A comparison of Dances With Wolves and Avatar



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A Comparison of Dances With Wolves and Avatar

James Cameron’s Avatar (2009) is one of the most prosperous movies of the last few years. It has been nominated for nine Academy Awards and has won three of them. A fascinating film concerning it’s spectacle at least, inasmuch as we should have a little acquaintance with the story. Avatar and Kevin Costner’s movie Dances With Wolves (1990) resemble each other more than we could imagine.


At first, let us glance at the protagonists. Two handsome young men with problematic legs who are disillusioned from their own civilizations and desperately seek something entirely new. For Lieutenant John J. Dunbar it is perfectly enough to travel a few miles from home in Dances With Wolves, while the Avatar hero, Marine Jake Sully, has to go to the planet Pandora. Both are enthralled by the uncommon tribes: Sioux Aboriginals and strange blue human-like creatures, the Na’vis.

Interestingly, initially the tribes want to know the protagonists only in order to get information of their enemies, the white people. Moreover, neither Dunbar nor Sully can truly join the tribes as the lieutenant feels his duty no to leave his post and the marine has to work as an informer. Later they can prove their suitability, fall in love with the unspoiled civilizatons and rebel against their own culture.

There is no hero without a heroine thus the aforementioned protagonists can find their beloved ones in the new tribes. It may not be astounding that the stories of the main female characters show a parrallel with each other. At first, Stands With A Fist in Dances With Wolves wants to kill Dunbar. She was a white girl whose family were killed by another Native American tribe, the Pawnees. She was hiding but a Sioux warrior found her and she joined to the Sioux tribe. As a soldier, Dunbar symbolizes the returning to white people to Stand With A Fist, however, she wants to stay with her tribe. Her incipient disinclination becomes heavier when her foster-father instructs her to be the interpreter between him and the lieutenant. She has to teach Dunbar the Sioux language and as she is getting to know him she falls in love with him.

The Avatar heroine, Neytiri, is in the same boat as Stand With A Fist. Firstly, she has to pass all her knowldgements to Sully, although she can hardly bare the fact that the marine is more awkward than a child. In spite of this they later become friends and then lovers.



Naturally, the two communities have leader warriors who reckon the protagonist as a principal opponent. Both Wind In His Hair in Dances With Wolves and Tsu’Tey in Avatar want to throw off the new, good-for-nothing member of the tribe. After a while, as Dunbar and Sully can show their suitability, the warriors admit the protagonist’s knowledge and manhood. Obviously, they begin to honour themselves and become friends.

The only thing that makes the two story dissimilar is that they take place in different space and time. Dances With Wolves is our past and according to James Cameron the same would be our future. He may have wanted to try the newest digital techniques. He may have shown something moralizing. Anyhow, his movie is anything but new. We all know that there is nothing new under the sun, however, if we made a good job our work would seem new at least.


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