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How James Cameron took on the world It looks like James Cameron has done it again.

Within 31 days of its opening, his new movie Avatar had left Star Wars's box office record in the dust. Within 39 days, The Dark Knight's record was left dangling by its cape. Finally surging past Titanic's record last week, Avatar's haul topped $2 billion worldwide, making it the "highest grossing movie of all time", and yesterday it led the field of Oscar nominees with nine nominations, including best film and best director. James Cameron would once again seem to be king of the world, plus a small constellation of fictional moons. Avatar's only real challengers have come, not in the form of other movies new films from Harrison Ford, Denzel Washington and Mel Gibson slammed into Avatar's side and just slid off, like Wile E Coyote but governments, political parties, world religions. In China it was a huge hit until the government decided that the film's indictment of predatory property developers hit a little too close to home and pulled it in favour of a biopic of Confucius starring Chow Yun Fat. A critic for L'Osservatore Romano, the Vatican's daily newspaper, accused the movie of promoting paganism. In Russia, critics railed at what they saw as a rationale for the Nobel Prize given to Barack Obama. Back in America, meanwhile, it met with the kind of antagonism from the Right "Death Wish for Leftists", "Cinema for the hate America crowd" usually reserved for Oliver Stone pics. Anti smoking lobbyists have taken out ads to protest at Sigourney Weaver's habit in the film; while doctors have worried that it causes depression the "Avatar blues". If the first test of a blockbuster is that the number of box office records it breaks is exactly equal to the silliness levels of the interpretations to which it is subject, then Avatar passes with flying colours. "It's just a movie," comes the obvious rejoinder, which is only partly true. Films as successful as Avatar are less movies than socioeconomic juggernauts, Rorschach blots into which everyone peers and sees their own viewpoints challenged or validated. But still, once you adjust those box office records to acknowledge the effects of inflation, it's a slightly different story: 4. Avatar $2,021m 5. The Extra Terrestrial $1,897m Looked at like this, Avatar seems less a sinister plan to turn the world blue and make us all vote Obama, and more the kind of thing you'll be catching on BBC2 on a lazy Sunday: the kind of big budget, special effect spectacle aimed at the widest possible audience that Hollywood has long excelled at, with Jim Cameron entering an illustrious winner's paddock that includes Steven Spielberg, George Lucas, Cecil B DeMille and David O Selznick. They even dip into the same gene pool; as film historian Molly Haskell has pointed out, Avatar shares with Gone with the Wind a hero who occupies two worlds, a romance set against a backdrop of war and evil imperialists taking up arms against a peace loving tribe, the main difference being that Vivien Leigh's skin, while vividly rendered in Technicolor, was not a deep shade of cerulean blue. If Avatar implements a revolution for Hollywood, it has nothing to do with the advent of 3D technology; the recent announcement of a company called Girls in 3D to release 15 hours of 3D porn notwithstanding, the technology is likely to remain a rich man's toy, awarded to the likes of Spielberg and Peter Jackson, but denied lesser mortals. Nor does its motion capture technology spell the end of acting, although the look on Julia Roberts's face when she announced Avatar's Golden Globe for best film was a masterclass in barely disguised contempt: if anyone stands in the way of a repeat performance for Cameron at the Oscars, it is the pandora charm offers sizeable voting bloc of Hollywood actors. The real revolution effected by Avatar has to do with the amount of money it made overseas. The box office has been on an international trend for some time now Star Wars made 40 per cent of its money overseas, Jurassic Park 60 per cent but Avatar took 70 per cent abroad, an astonishing figure which relegates North America to being just another territory. It's the most important one to be sure, but if James Cameron still hasn't mastered the art of the gracious acceptance, using both of his speeches pandora jewelry where to buy at the Golden Globes to update us on the state of his bladder, he said one true thing that night: "What we do is we make movies for the global audience." In one sense, Avatar finishes what Star Wars started, as is often the way with revolutions. First, the boy wonders headed out into the field the Spielbergs, the Lucases, the Trotskys, the Dantons to be followed by a more steely eyed strategist a Napoleon, a Stalin, a Cameron who bides his time, picks his moment and becomes king of the world. Cameron has something else in common with those men: he is not a native of the country he has come to represent, but was born and raised in Canada, where he whiled away his childhood building models, as the young George Lucas did. Once, he fashioned a hot air balloon out of a dry cleaning bag, which drew the attention of the local fire department, rather as the young Steven Spielberg locked himself into his bathroom in Phoenix just so he could see the lights cast by all the fire trucks when they arrived at the end of his street to rescue him. The most important fact about Cameron, however, can you order pandora charms online is that when he was five, he saw the United States invade Vietnam, and was 21 by the time they extricated themselves. This meant that during his teenage years his formative years as a filmmaker Cameron witnessed the long, slow, humiliating defeat of the giant who lived next door. It made a big impression, instilling in him a curious political mixture, the leanings of a liberal trapped inside the titanium exoskeleton of a hawk or as Colonel Quaritch says in Avatar: "A marine inside a Na'vi body. That's a potent mix." It certainly is for the movies, which soon get bored with people in perfect agreement with themselves. The result was Apocalypse Now. Cameron is like Coppola and Milius in space. Sigourney Weaver may have worried about all the military hardware on display in his Aliens "Here I am, a member of the gun control lobby," she complained "and all I do all day is shoot guns" but remember what happens: the marines descend to the surface of LV 426, whooping it up while they load their gunclips, only to find all their firepower is effectively useless, their armour more hindrance than help. The movie is a study in hubris. Or think of the enemy Cameron devised in Terminator 2: Judgment Day. Almost any other director would have come up with a Terminator that was bigger than Arnold bigger, heavier, more hi tech Cameron tacked the other way, devising a slim, sinuous shape shifter, a Porsche to Arnie's Panzer tank, mercury to his might. It is this feel for pandora jewelry charm bracelets the dynamics of an asymmetric fight, his interest in how small forces defeat larger ones, that lends Cameron's films their punch. How the mighty fall is Cameron's big theme, from The Terminator right through to Titanic, and it is a million miles distant from the top heavy bravado of a Michael Bay film, or the infinite regress of the Wachowskis' Matrix trilogy, whose godlike opponents were so equally matched that there was no reason, beside audience boredom, for the movies ever to end. But Cameron is famously a creature of contest. Combat is hard wired into his soul, as witnessed by the long held tradition his crews have of printing up T shirts bearing his favourite put downs "You either shoot it my way or you shoot another f?????? movie"; "It's a timing thing. I don't care if it has any organic emotional reality or not." But here is the unnoticed thing: every time he loses his head he gets his way, so much so that, even as the budgets of his movies have become larger, he has managed to imbue the spectacle on screen with the same sense of combat and strife with which they were conceived and shot: multi million dollar battles with the intimate feel of a catfight. Cameron knows he is hated: every time he opened his mouth at the Golden Globes, the air was sucked from the room as surely as oxygen from the lungs of those on Avatar's Pandora. He didn't need to conjure up a new world to let us know he was God.

We already knew. Listen to him when he picks up his Oscars and you will hear a man whose pulse doesn't flicker above 80, even while addressing a billion people. Why should he be scared? Just another film maker having a chat with his audience.


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