'Avatar': Final Burning Questions Answered

Find out why the Na'vi have only four fingers and more, directly from James Cameron and Jon Landau.

Two hundred fifty-three days have passed since "Avatar" first unveiled its blue-skinned magic on the big screen, and still we find ourselves bewitched by burning questions -- intoning "What about...?" and "How come...?" like some demented incantation. Does that mean we have issues?

Oh well. Fact is, James Cameron's "Avatar" delivered such a rich mythology that even after multiple viewings and countless interviews with the cast and crew, we continue to want to know more. Thankfully, "Avatar" is getting a nine-minute-long enhanced re-release on Friday (August 27), and Cameron and his Pandoran pals are once again talking at length about their record-breaking blockbuster.

In separate conversations with Cameron and his longtime producing partner Jon Landau, we threw out a bunch of our still-burning questions. Here's how they answered.

Do people age when they travel from Earth to Pandora?

James Cameron: A very small amount, because they're in cryogenic suspension. The ship's crew, which has to be conscious, age at a rate relative to their speed because they're going at .7 times the speed of light, so they're aging slightly slower than the people on Earth.

Why did you choose to set the film in 2154?

Jon Landau: Jim went through it with a bunch of people one day and plotted out a whole calendar with nuclear physicists and other scientists and creative people. Jim picked that date because it had to do with when Pandora was discovered, its relationship to other planets and all of those things. They backed up from when it was discovered and how long it would take to get there and they just started adding the years: here's when the base was built, here's when the Avatar program started.

Why do the Na'vi have four fingers while Avatars have five?

Cameron: They're a generic hybrid, and they've retained a little bit more of the human DNA that expressed itself in the human number of digits, and we wanted to distinguish the one from the other. There's actually a scene that we shot, which is not in the re-release, where Grace [Sigourney Weaver] is reunited with the children that are part of her school, [and] she sees if they can still count on their fingertips. Her counting is different from theirs because they run out of fingers.

What is life like on Earth in 2154?

Landau: Real estate has become so valuable that even the skies are sold as advertising spots, so there's advertising in the sky, like the Bat signal. In the cities, they have [super-fast] maglev trains. No matter how small your apartment is, usually your biggest purchase is your big-screen TV. TVs can be whole walls in apartments, no matter how impoverished you are. But we also believe that not everything changes in the future. If you went into a local bar in [2154], it's still going to have pool tables and TVs and people hanging out at tables.

Are there any atheistic Na'vi?

Landau: That isn't anything we've tapped into yet. You'd have to wait for the sequel for that one!

How long do Na'vi live?

Landau: The Na'vi age slower than humans, so they have a longer life span. In the burial scene in the film, that woman would be older than the equivalent-looking human.

Is there anything you haven't been asked that leaves you thinking, "Gee, why hasn't anyone asked me that?"

Landau: The questions you've asked today aren't ones I've had before! Something I wonder -- and you'd have to ask Jim for the answer, we've gone through a couple different scenarios -- is how did Jake hurt himself? How exactly?

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

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