many wonders include the world’s neural network, through which all its
plant and animal life are connected . . .
Akin to a human nervous system, this network enables
all life on Pandora to function as a single harmonious system. The center
of this network – and the moon’s heart and brain –is a massive, gnarled
and ancient willow tree that is the Na’vi epicenter, an extension of their
lifeblood, and a place of regeneration and knowledge. This “Tree of Souls”
is situated at the center of Pandora’s most powerful magnetic field, the
Flux Vortex. Eons ago the invisible field created the unusual geological
formations of arches that form rainbows of stone, above a deep caldera,
with the Tree of Souls at its center.
Living amidst these incredible environments are myriad
creatures, some of which were created by Avatar’s in-house creature design
team under Neville Page, with the others designed by John Rosengrant’s
team at Stan Winston Studios. The most fearsome of Pandoran creatures is
the Thanator. “The Thanator could eat a T-Rex and have the Alien for
dessert,” says the filmmaker. “It’s the panther from hell.” Then there are
the Viperwolves, which Cameron describes as “hairless with shiny skin that
looks like overlapped armor. Most disturbing are its paws, which are like
A winged creature known as the Banshee is a key figure
in Jake’s journey; in a Na’vi rite of passage, Jake must dominate and ride
a banshee to assume a rightful position in the clan community. The test’s
stakes are further heightened by the fact that the banshee that most wants
to kill him is the “chosen one” he must capture.
"The Thanator could eat a T-Rex and have the Alien for dessert. It’s
the panther from hell!"
Pandora’s Direhorses, as the name suggests, resemble in
some ways terrestrial horses – but with several important flourishes as
conceived and designed by Stan Winston Studios and Cameron, the latter
describing the animal as a “six-legged alien Clydesdale with moth-like
Pandora’s diverse menagerie also includes the deer-like
Hexapede; the ferocious Hammerhead Titanothere, a rhinoceros-like
herbivore with a bad attitude and a head like a sledgehammer; and the
Leonopteryx, a the king predator of the sky, striped scarlet, yellow and
black, with an 80-foot wingspan. A smaller and gentler Pandoran species is
the jellyfish-like Woodsprite, which waves silky tendrils to move
gracefully through the night air. Called Atokirina by the Na’vi, they are
actually seeds of the sacred Utraya Mokri “Tree of Voices,” and thus an
important part of the “soul” of the rainforest. When they land upon Jake,
Neytiri interprets this as an important sign, and things take an
Academy Award winner Richard Taylor and his team at
WETA Workshop designed props and weapons for both the Na’vi and the
heavily armed RDA. While renowned artist TyRuben Ellingson designed many
of the vehicles used by the military forces based at Hell’s Gate –and
which figure prominently in the an epic third-act battle pitting machine
against banshee, and hardened soldier against Na’vi warrior.
The AMP Suit (“AMP” is an acronym for “Amplified
Mobility Platform”) “amplifies” the movements of its human operator. The
AMP Suits and their soldier occupants are transported by what is perhaps
the RDA’s deadliest aircraft – the C-21 Dragon Gunship. This giant
rotorcraft resembles a predatory insect and has multiple canopies.
as destructive is the AT-99 Scorpion Gunship, a high speed, highly
maneuverable military attack aircraft. And on a world with no landing
strips, these tilt-rotor aircraft have the important capability of
vertical takeoffs and landings. While the military aerial vehicles in
Avatar are futuristic rotorcraft, they were intended to seem as familiar
as the Huey gunships of the Vietnam era, to ground the audience in a
strong sense of reality.
Avatar’s largest vehicle, over a kilometer in length,
is the ISV Venture Star, an interstellar ship that transports RDA
personnel – including Jake –to Pandora. Its antimatter engines propel it
to seven tenths the speed of light, but the voyage to Pandora still takes
almost six years, during which time the passengers are frozen in cryogenic
suspended animation. To reach the planet’s surface from orbit, the
newcomers board the Valkyrie TAV (Trans-Atmospheric Vehicle), a distant
descendant of the space shuttle.
The costume designs by Mayes C. Rubeo and Deborah L.
Scott provide yet another gateway into the Na’vi culture. Although many of
the costumes and accessories are worn by CG creations, the items were
created practically, to best communicate the subtleties of the costume
textures, the weaving styles, and the translucency of the jewelry.
Practicality and comfort define the Na’vi clothing, reflecting the grace
and beauty of Pandora’s indigenous people.
- Taken from the production notes