James Cameron in Montreal for new Avatar-inspired Cirque show

The director of Avatar is a Cirque du Soleil fan and thrilled that the first circus show inspired by a movie is based on his box office success.

Toruk opens tonight in Montreal

James Cameron on Toruk, Cirque du Soleil's Avatar-inspired show

7 years ago
Duration 0:32
The blockbuster director discusses his creative role in the production of Toruk, which opened Dec. 21

Canadian director James Cameron is in Montreal for tonight's opening of Toruk, the new Cirque du Soleil arena show inspired by one of the highest-grossing movies of all time, Avatar.

The show is set on Pandora thousands of years before the events of the movie. 

The Na'vi people are blue, like in the movie, with costumes designed to enhance their lithe bodies and long necks. The show uses some of their language as well as many of the creatures that Cameron created for the movie.

Cameron, who acted as a creative consultant on the Cirque production, spoke with Radio-Canada about the collaboration.

How do you feel about Avatar inspiring a Cirque show?

They've never done a show based on a film before so it's an honour and it's nice to feel there's some synchronicity between the goals of the movie and the goals of a Cirque du Soleil show, in terms of inspiring the audience with the sense of a different culture, a sense of fantasy, a sense of dream-like wonder. We always felt it was a natural connection.

How did the connection between you and Cirque come about?

I've been a fan of the Cirque du Soleil for 20 years or so.  I did a film with them several years ago called Cirque du Soleil, Worlds Away a few years ago which was of their Las Vegas show and about the same time we started talking about doing some kind of live show, we didn't know if it was going to be a tent show or an arena show, I left that up to them.

A circus performer plays the role of a Na'vi in Toruk. (Cirque du Soleil)

What impressed you about the Cirque production?

Well I think it's the fact that there are characters that you follow in a world and the fact that they could create such magic just with live performers and projections and instantly take you to another planet.  You've walked into a theatre. You know you're sitting in an arena seat and yet you've mystically been transported to another world.

Do you think films like Avatar and shows like Toruk can truly make a difference and help people think more about the environment? 

I think people bring to Avatar and Toruk a sense of their own conscience about the natural world and that's what resonates with them so I don't think the show changes them, I think it just awakens something in the audience. A tiny difference for a large number of people is a difference.

You left Canada when you were 17. Do you still feel connected to Canada? 

I have two farms in British Columbia and we have a large agricultural company in Saskatchewan, so yeah I follow the politics now more than I did for many years when I was living down in Los Angeles. Canada really turned a corner recently. I think the Canadian people have sort of woken up and said we need to be more responsible environmentally. I think Harper was given the broom which he richly deserved, in my opinion. And I see big changes.   


To encourage thoughtful and respectful conversations, first and last names will appear with each submission to CBC/Radio-Canada's online communities (except in children and youth-oriented communities). Pseudonyms will no longer be permitted.

By submitting a comment, you accept that CBC has the right to reproduce and publish that comment in whole or in part, in any manner CBC chooses. Please note that CBC does not endorse the opinions expressed in comments. Comments on this story are moderated according to our Submission Guidelines. Comments are welcome while open. We reserve the right to close comments at any time.

Become a CBC Account Holder

Join the conversation  Create account

Already have an account?