Cameron sees metaphor for Earth in 'Avatar'

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Its story unfolds on an alien planet in the 22nd century, but director James Cameron says his new film "Avatar" is a metaphor for the way humankind treats Earth today.

Cameron joined stars Sigourney Weaver, Sam Worthington, Zoe Saldana and Stephen Lang for Thursday's premiere of the science fiction epic in London, ahead of its worldwide release next week.

Set on a distant planet called Pandora, in the heart of a vast tropical forest, it recounts how strife erupts between an indigenous tribe and an Earth-based consortium pillaging for a precious mineral.

"I see it as a broader metaphor, not so intensely politicised as some would make it, but rather that's how we treat the natural world as well," the Canadian-born filmmaker said.

"There's a sense of entitlement - 'We're here, we're big, we've got the guns, we've got the technology, we've got the brains, we therefore are entitled to every damn thing on this planet'," he said.

"That's not how it works and we're going to find out the hard way if we don't wise up and start seeking a life that's in balance with the natural cycles of life on earth."

Cameron conceived "Avatar" 15 years ago. Four years in production and packed with computer-generated imagery and 3D effects, it is his first feature since "Titanic" in 1997 which scooped 11 Academy Awards.

"It's a great feeling of satisfaction," he said of finishing the project. "It's a big relief for me to be done with the film and to know that people are finally going to be seeing it, that it's out of my hands at this point."