Robotic body suits, evil corporations, do-not-mess-with-me female sidekicks — these are just some of the recurring motifs in the films of James Cameron, present from 1984's "Terminator" up through current box-office and awards-season pet "Avatar."
But it's not just these whiz-bang action-flick factors that connect "Avatar" to the director's earlier work. The forbidden love story between ex-Marine Jake Sully (Sam Worthington) and silky blue alien Neytiri (Zoe Saldana) calls to mind another set of star-crossed paramours: Jack and Rose from "Titanic," otherwise known as Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet. Both couples come from radically different cultures that are contemptuous of their relationship and are forced to choose sides between the competing communities. (Earlier this week, we explored whether Worthington and Saldana will follow DiCaprio's and Winslet's post-Cameron career paths.)
It's a storytelling similarity that even Cameron acknowledges. "They both fall in love with each other, but they need to fight side-by-side, and so there's that kind of requirement to let the other person go in order to do what you need to do, which is kind of interesting," he explained.
The director also sees a few differences between his futuristic couple and his pre-World War I pair. "They don't fall for each other right away, though, in this film," Cameron said of Sully and Neytiri. "There are some challenges in between."
Neither, it should be noted, do Jack and Rose. There is hardly an intimation of enduring romance when the artsy drifter interrupts the high-society teen's mid-sea suicide attempt. Their romance certainly sparks quicker than Sully and Neytiri's, but then the Titanic meets its doom far sooner than the aliens' Hometree. Time constraints require a hasty oceanic courtship.
Worthington and Saldana themselves argued that Sully and Neytiri do in fact fall in love at first sight, despite Cameron's sentiment to the contrary. During MTV's "Avatar" live-stream chat back in December, Worthington argued that Sully immediately falls under his alien cohort's spell.
"I really think it was [love at first sight] for Neytiri too," Saldana added. "She just had to conceal it because you can't give all your goods away so quickly."
Cameron sees one more commonality between his stars — with which surely everyone involved can concur: "They had a great chemistry right from the get-go, and it was always fun on set," he said.
Check out everything we've got on "Avatar."
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