“Avatar 2”: invented language, ecology, religion… Five astonishing facts about the saga of James Cameron

Thirteen years after a first part which had generated nearly 3 billion euros in revenue, Avatar returns to theaters on Wednesday, December 14 with a second episode, The Way of the Water. This monumental saga, thought about since 2014, is inspired by several ancient religions and has resulted in the creation of a new language: Na’vi.

► “Avatar” enabled the creation of a whole new language

Paul Frommer, professor of communication at the University of South Carolina, was contacted by James Cameron in 2005. His task: to create the Na’vi language, that of the blue-skinned alien species that inhabits the moon of Pandora.

Its grammar is based on Polynesian languages, and Paul Frommer also borrows several sounds from indigenous languages ​​of America and Central Asia. Conversely, he excluded several sounds common in the West, such as the [b]the [d] and the [g]. Currently, Na’vi has 2,600 words, compared to 32,000 for everyday French.

► The first film was written in 1994

The first scenario ofAvatar is written by James Cameron in 1994, well before the release of the first opus in 2009. The director of titanicwho believes that the technology is not yet ready to allow him to realize his vision, is chomping at the bit while waiting for it to move forward.

Finally, viewing the Lord of the Rings convinces him to go. The figure of Gollum makes him understand that it is now possible to create at movie theater “compelling, fully computer-generated characters.”

► The producers, not fans of the discourse on the environment of “Avatar”

“Could we take out some of that hippie and tree hugger bullshit?” », reportedly asked a Fox producer of James Cameron during the production ofAvatar. “They were worried that the environmental themes would hurt the film,” explained the director in 2011.

It would seem that James Cameron did not give in to Fox: without rising to the level of Miyazaki’s films, the saga Avatar carries an ecological discourse. “We can consider that he pleads in favor of better conservation of the environment”,analyzed the anthropologist Perig Pitrou in the CNRS journal about the first film.

► James Cameron accused of plagiarizing two Soviet novels

In the 1960s, the Arkady brothers and Boris Strugatsky were writing a series of ten science fiction books in the Soviet Union. The story takes place in a utopian setting called Pandora, the name of the lush planet that is home to the Na’vis in the series. Avatar. A strange coincidence, especially since the species that inhabits the Strugatsky world bears the name “Nave”.

The two Pandoras are also humid planets, covered by dense forests. The two works are not, however, exactly alike. In Avatarthe inhabitants of the Earth live in misery, while the world prospers thanks to the communisms in the Soviet news.

► A saga inspired by Hindu and Jewish traditions

Word avatar comes from Sanskrit, the language of Hindu and Buddhist religious texts, which continues to be used in India as a liturgical language, like Latin in the West. An “avatar” is the embodiment of a Hindu god on Earth.

The inhabitants of Pandora, the Na’vis, are otherwise blue and tall in homage to the Hindu god Vishnu, who has ten avatars in the most widespread tradition. Avatar also borrows ideas from the Jewish religion, since navigate means “prophet” in Hebrew.

“Avatar 2”: invented language, ecology, religion… Five astonishing facts about the saga of James Cameron