James Cameron Discusses 'Avatar' Spirituality, Cliches On 'Oprah'

'There's a fine line between cliché and archetype that touches something universal,' the director argues.

As "Avatar" gets set for a fifth straight week as the #1 film in America, director James Cameron stopped by "The Oprah Winfrey Show" to talk about the film's gender-line-exploding appeal, accusations of recycled storytelling and the franchise's spiritual and environmental roots.

After exchanging a greeting in the language of the native Na'vi population, Oprah asked Cameron if he's a spiritual person. After all, the Na'vi greeting "I see you" is a phrase with a deeper meaning more akin to "I understand who you are."

"I guess I must be, because this film represents a lot of ideas and feelings I have as an artist," he said, going on to highlight his movie's "environmental message and the idea that we are all connected to each other as human beings."

Obsessed with what he termed "nature's imagination," Cameron said "Avatar" was his "attempt to bottle that."

Oprah declared herself a huge fan. Though not having gone to the theater since the '90s — maybe since "Dances With Wolves" — the host said not only did she take in a theatrical viewing of "Avatar," but called all her friends and told them they had to check it out. Cameron explained that while opening-night crowds were dominated by male viewers, positive word of mouth has resulted in an even male/female split in the film's audience.

"Avatar" continues to reel in bundles of cash — $1.4 billion worldwide and counting — but Oprah asked Cameron to respond to charges from critics and viewers that the story is derivative or clichéd. "I think the story is communicating with people," Cameron said. "There's a fine line between cliché and archetype that touches something universal."

The Na'vi's blue color, while not necessarily universal, has become prominent in pop culture — so much so that Lady Gaga has had to abandon plans to coat herself in the hue. Appearing on "Oprah" after Cameron, the pop superstar admitted, "I've been talking about how I want to paint myself blue for a performance for the longest time."

Check out everything we've got on "Avatar."

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