James Cameron Reveals His Dreams at La Cinémathèque

© Avatar Alliance Foundation, James Cameron - All rights reserved

To say we loved the retrospective "The Art of James Cameron" at the French Cinémathèque would be an understatement. Over 300 archives straight from the Canadian director's "vault" are exhibited for the first time in Paris: a true dive into his subconscious and filmography that leaves us speechless. Get ready to be overwhelmed.


The Painter Before the Filmmaker

Long before cinema, James Cameron was a drawing enthusiast. As a child, he took painting classes and put his wildest dreams and nightmares on paper. Avatar? He came up with the idea at 19. Fortunately, Jim merged his talent as a draftsman with that of a director to create the biggest successes of the 7th art. His dreams are actually the origin of ALL his films. The most striking example: suffering from a high fever, he dreams of a chrome skeleton emerging from a wall of fire. That night, Terminator was born.

Where does this limitless imagination come from? A cinephile and avid reader, James Cameron draws inspiration from his favorite works, thus nourishing his dreams: novels and horror and SF films, Marvel comics, books on mythology, and prehistory are also presented at the Cinémathèque. Everything is done so that the visitor understands James Cameron's creative process, as he confirmed during the exhibition's inauguration: "The organization is very successful because it clearly shows my evolution, film by film, with excerpts that contextualize the graphic works".


A Pandora's Box

It is to the tunes of Terminator and Titanic themes that the visitor enters the extraordinary world of James Cameron. It all starts with his early sketches, comics, and pastels. In total, hundreds of drawings, paintings, models, storyboards, photographs, and film props are presented, each more impressive than the last. And the majority are originals loaned by James Cameron! A unique hanging that makes your head spin. On one side, a life-size statue of Arnold Schwarzenegger as Terminator stares down at us while we catch sight of the preparatory drawings of Aliens out of the corner of our eye.


No time to catch your breath when entering the Titanic backstage. With mouths agape, we admire for long minutes the nude of Kate Winslet drawn by Cameron himself, while a reproduction of the Heart of the Ocean shines brightly nearby. The emotion is only intensified as we move towards the ideal world of Avatar. Busts of Na'vi, statuettes of Pandora's animals, and early sketches of the characters: the beginnings of cinema's biggest commercial success are right before our eyes. The icing on the cake? The reproduction of the Pandora forest created from a drawing by the director. A magnificent ending that confirms he is the true king of the world!

The Art of James Cameron until January 5, 2025, at the French Cinémathèque. Open Monday and Wednesday to Friday from 12 pm to 7 pm, Saturday from 11 am to 9 pm, and Sunday from 11 am to 8 pm.

© Avatar Alliance Foundation, James Cameron

Also discover the revival of the impressionists at the Musée d'Orsay and the fantastic world of Paolo Roversi at the Palais Galliera.

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