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James Cameron talks about universal theme of nature in 'Avatar' sequel

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Director James Cameron speaks during a press conference for the film,
Director James Cameron speaks during a press conference for the film, "Avatar: The Way of Water" at Conrad Seoul, Friday. Yonhap

By Kwak Yeon-soo

After a 13-year wait, director James Cameron has returned with a sequel to "Avatar," containing a strong environmental message.

The sequel "Avatar: The Way of Water" centers on Jake Sully (Sam Worthington) and Neytiri (Zoe Saldana), now parents to five children, who try to protect their family from a new threat to Pandora. They seek refuge with the oceanic Metkayina clan and learn the way of water to survive. The cast also includes Sigourney Weaver, Stephen Lang and Kate Winslet.

Compared to the first film, which questions human greed in mining or extraction projects, the second film talks about the exploitation of the ocean.

"I think the film is an adventure first and foremost. It's a family story and an emotional story ― a love letter to family and how family makes you stronger. It is not a film that beats you over the head with its message, but it asks you to feel for the ocean and then maybe a few people can translate that into action," Cameron said during a press conference held at Conrad Seoul, Friday.

A scene from the film 'Avatar: The Way of Water' / Courtesy of Walt Disney Co. Korea
A scene from the film 'Avatar: The Way of Water' / Courtesy of Walt Disney Co. Korea

Saldana elaborated on how the film conveys the complexities of family.

"Jake and Neytiri fall in love in the first movie, so obviously the first one is about a love story. The natural progression of Jake and Neytiri was for them to start a family, raising children in a time of war and great turmoil. You can still find joy while teaching them (the children) skills to stay alive. James wanted to follow that theme of how relatable and complex families can be," she said.

Worthington said he found 'Avatar 2' to be a simple story about a man trying to protect his culture, planet and family. "Personally, I would do anything for my family and my sons. James deals with outsiders who are up against insurmountable challenges and find the way through love," he said.

A lifelong lover of ocean exploration, Cameron discussed how he brings nature into his films, including 1989's "The Abyss" and 1998's "Titanic."

"The oceans are very important to me. As a diver and explorer, I have spent thousands of hours underwater. I love the ocean, and I love what it means to us symbolically. Subconsciously, we all know that the ocean is like our mother. At least by making a film, I can give something back from the standpoint of conservation and the preservation of the ocean," he said.

While the film's three-hour-and-10-minute runtime has been making headlines, Cameron said that he has not heard any complaints about the length from people who have actually seen the film.

"I never had anyone complain about getting more for the same rights. If you got more of anything for the same amount of money, you wouldn't complain. There are short novels and there are long novels. This one is a long novel. It doesn't mean that it is a bad novel," he said.

"Avatar 2" will hold its world premiere in Korea on Dec. 14.

Kwak Yeon-soo

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