Avatar: A Lesson in Story

February 1, 2010
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Update: Check out this post for my latest Avatar lesson plan

While I was preparing for a presentation over Dan Pink for a regional technology conference, I ran across this amazing article in Newsweek entitled “It’s the Story, Stupid.”

I do not think I could have made up better evidence of Dan Pink’s Story aptitude from A Whole New Mind.

You really should read the entire article, as it vividly shines a light on technology and the use of story.  But I would like for you to try something.

In the article, James Cameron discusses the original trailer for Avatar, which featured the amazing technology of the movie.  But the audience response was flat.  He then points out that the studio revamped the trailer and focused on the actual story.  Audience response went through the roof.

I plan on using this example at the conference and wanted to share it on the site.  It really is interesting.  Watch the first trailer, then read Cameron’s quote.  Then take the time to watch the revamped trailer. The conclusion is obvious: Story matters!

Original Avatar Trailer

“…we put out a teaser trailer that was all about the imagery, and people were less than satisfied, because they weren’t learning enough about the story. We put out a story trailer that set the stage and told you what the main character was, and all of a sudden people were wildly excited about the movie.”

-James Cameron

Revamped Avatar Trailer: Focus On Story

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4 Responses to Avatar: A Lesson in Story

  1. Brian
    November 5, 2010 at 5:55 pm

    I get a mixed responce when asking people about Avatar, some relate to the story very strongly, a few see it as just a great special effects movie , for the most part they all aggre that when it comes to humanty and empathy avatar sets a great example that we could learn much from and that makes it a very good learning tool , do be aware that JC showed the film to indigious people in brazil , and to his suprise they did not like the agressive nature of parts of the film he says he has learned from this and will adapt changes in avatar 2 and 3 only time will tell what those films will address.

    • November 9, 2010 at 3:55 pm

      Thank you for reading!
      Now that you mention it, the people I talk to also fall into those two camps. But once I started to use Bennett’s DMIS model with my students, they began to see some of the deeper meaning and enhance their empathy.
      If you haven’t read that post you might like it. http://lessonupgrades.com/daniel-pink/lesson-plan-for-avatar-and-empathy/
      Thank you for sharing your story about Cameron and Brazil. Very interesting!
      Thanks again!!

  2. April 14, 2010 at 6:35 pm

    Avatar should be named the greatest movie since Star Wars.

    • April 26, 2010 at 2:14 pm

      I agree. I’ve seen it three times and I can’t wait to get it on DVD. What a great story!

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