Does Avatar Steal From Roger Dean?
Since its release in December, Avatar has become a cinematic phenomenon.
The 3-D world of Pandora, the futuristic planet filled with floating mountains and mystical creatures, has captured the imagination with the film breaking box office records worldwide.
But if you thought those vivid, surrealistic landscapes look familiar, then you are not alone.
It doesn’t require 3-D glasses to see why many have drawn comparisons between the Pandora created by Avatar director James Cameron and the iconic work of artist Roger Dean, whose dreamlike, fantasy paintings have graced numerous album covers, most notably those of Yes.
“You wouldn’t believe how many letters I got,” Dean tells Classic Rock. “Some people congratulated me assuming I’d worked on it.”
But Dean hadn’t worked on it, nor has he been credited, which has led him to explore his legal options.
“I can’t talk more now. I have been told by my lawyers not to talk to anyone at this stage.”
Since first developing the idea for Avatar in 1995, Cameron has pursued his singular vision, albeit with the assistance of a large creative team, including the film’s production designer Robert Stromberg, whose initial drawings made a huge impression on the director.
“I stayed up all night and did two images and one of them was an image of this alien planet with floating mountains.” When Cameron saw them, Stromberg said he pointed at them and went: “That’s my movie.”
Asked if he was aware of Dean’s work and whether it was ever referenced during the film’s development, Stromberg replied: “The answer is yes, in among many science fiction artists and different artists, just trying to get, not a direct influence, but see what people were up to.
“There are not many places to go when talking about floating mountains when you’re talking imagery.”
“There’s not, is there?” responds Dean, sardonically.
Check out the images below. What do you think?
* For more on this story, check out the March issue of Classic Rock, on sale Wednesday, February 3.