A former student of Spartanburg Technical College and overall geek, I enjoy listening to music, reading books, playing video games, and watching movies. Sometimes I write about them.View all articles by Adrian Tallent
James Cameron is well known in science fiction circles as the man behind the Terminator and Aliens series. He is equally well known in film circles as the man behind “The Titanic”. If that kind of resume alone doesn’t make him The Director of the 20th Century, then Avatar could very well see the man getting his own statue erected on Mount Olympus. For those of you who aren’t born yet, allow me to put some things into perspective: The Terminator became a pivotal piece of pop culture in the 80’s, making Arnold Schwarzenegger into a household name and blurring the line between science-fiction, action, and horror. Aliens became even more popular, developing a dedicated following, a spinoff franchise that was eventually married to the continuity (Predator), and changed what horror could mean in films. "The Titanic" was the most popular film hands down of the following decade, whether or not it deserved the title (some people attest it didn’t).
What James Cameron did next was…nothing. Well, not exactly nothing. He had an idea. With "Titanic" fresh on his mind, he turned once again to the familiar grounds of science fiction. Could the sentimental undertones that spoke to so many people in "The Titanic" work when wrapped in science fiction? After thinking for a while and considering various options and approaches, he had an amazing vision; an ambitious vision. Traditionally, when it came to making films, advancements in technology led to advancements in film. Why not create a film that would force advancement in technology, thereby creating something totally new that had never been seen before? Unfortunately, Mr. Cameron’s vision was too ambitious; after pursuing it for a while, he found that the film would have cost somewhere in the park of $400 million to make according to his vision, and no film studio in the world was willing to foot the bill.
So James did the same thing that fellow filmmaker George Lucas did when he ran into the wall of technology. He decided to wait. Titanic would be the last feature film he’d make for an entire decade, with the exception of the odd documentary or special. I like to imagine he spent much of this time hunched over a notebook, taking notes as ideas came to him and trying to hammer out Avatar into something that could stand on solid ground when the time came. According to Mr. Cameron, that time came after he noticed how life-like and convincing Gollum was in “The Lord of the Rings”.