The Way Of Water Were Planted In James Cameron’s First Film

Both “Piranha II” and “Avatar: The Way of Water” feature extended scenes of people teaching deep sea diving and using underwater sign language. Both films feature sequences where inexperienced divers are brought by more experienced divers to an isolated location where their lives threatened by man-eating fish. Both films feature climaxes that begin with teenagers running off to the middle of the ocean by themselves, directly into harm’s way, where they have to be rescued by their parents. Both films have climaxes that take place on sunken ships. Both films have characters driven, at the end of the film, by blood revenge.

It’s starting to add up, isn’t it?

What’s more, both films evoke a certain spiritualism about sea life. The centerpiece of “Piranha II: The Spawning” is actually the “spawning” part. It’s a grunion run, where the little aquatic critters arrive on the shore for mating purposes. They’re just like the sea creatures in “Avatar: The Way of Water,” which return cyclically to the film’s central village to share intimate connections with the populace.

Tricia O’Neal’s character in “Piranha II” gives a speech about how remarkable it is that grunions always meet “the first full moon after the spring equinox,” at which point someone asks her, “But how do the fish know?” They have no answer. Sea life is just pretty darned magical in James Cameron movies.

And then of course there’s the time in “Piranha II” where Chris tells his mother he’d like to be her “spiritual advisor,” which is played like a joke, but when “Avatar: The Way of Water” comes along the whole story leads to the parents’ discovering that their children are operating on higher planes than they realized. That connection is most likely a coincidence, but it’s a notable one.

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