Hard to be Cameron

"Avatar" by James Cameron
Soviet sci-fi writer, 76-year-old Boris Strugatsky, has accused Oscar-winning director James Cameron of plagiarism.

One of the authors of “Roadside Picnic” is claiming that the plot of Cameron’s latest 3-D sci-fi adventure, “Avatar”, has been taken from his “Noon: 22nd Century” novel, released in mid ‘60s.

“The Americans have borrowed our idea – it’s very unpleasant,” Boris Strugatsky was quoted as saying. “But I won’t take them to court. Or shall I?”

The trailblazing director of “Aliens”, “Terminator” and “Titanic”, James Cameron, described his latest production as “the most challenging film he’s ever made”.

He first conceived of “Avatar” 15 years ago, when the means to realize his vision and imagination did not yet exist.

After four years of production, the sci-fi extravaganza with a new generation of special effects has offered a new kind of a cinematic experience where Cameron managed to blend the revolutionary technology with the emotion of the characters and the captivating plot of the story.

“Avatar” is set on Pandora, a moon with an Earthlike environment that orbits a gas-giant planet called Polyphemus in the Alpha Centauri-A star system, our nearest stellar neighbor.

Meanwhile, the collection of “Noon Universe” novels written by Boris and Arkady Strugatsky in the 1960s features a number of planets, including Pandora.

Wikipedia describes it as “a planet-wide holiday resort. It is mostly covered with jungle swarming with dangerous alien fauna [which] young people just love to hunt…”

However, there is no direct evidence that the groundbreaking American director has borrowed any plotline from the Soviet sci-fi classics.

According to the Soviet writer, “Avatar” is akin to an illustration to Strugatsky’s books. For instance, their “Disquiet” novel focuses on a biologist, Mikhail Sidorov, who finds himself on Pandora among the native population. In Cameron’s film, according to Strugatsky, he has morphed into a former Marine, Jake Sully.

In Strugatsky’s books, the inhabitants of the planet resemble dogs, while Cameron’s creatures have the features of cats.

Cameron says the idea was to “create a familiar type of adventure in an unfamiliar environment by setting the classic tale of a newcomer to a foreign land and culture on an alien planet.”

And even if the groundbreaking author of “Avatar” did read “Noon Universe”, those who watched the film say it does not look like he has borrowed anything from it.

Cameron says he has dreamed of creating a film like this, set on another world of great danger and beauty, since he was a kid reading pulp science fiction and comic books by the truckload, and sitting in math class drawing creatures and aliens behind his propped up textbook.

Boris Strugatsky has admitted, though, he has not seen “Avatar” and says he most probably will not do so. “However, I’m curious to see what Hollywood has created from our idea.”

Check out the review on Avatar in RT’s blogs.