Saturday, August 09, 2014

Deepsea Challenge 3D

Last night I saw the documentary Deepsea Challenge 3D, about the journey James Cameron takes to a deep section of the ocean floor.

The director asks himself on screen whether or not he's a filmmaker who explores as a hobby or an explorer who makes films as a hobby. This film suggests the latter.

After seeing two men journey to the bottom of the ocean on television as a child in the 60s, Cameron held on to the dream of doing it himself until he had the means to duplicate the mission. That chance came a few years ago, when he commissioned the construction of a new submarine that would not only take him to those impressive depths, but also possess the capabilities to film and collect sediment samples during the journey.

A great portion of the film is spent watching Cameron, known for his tough treatment of employees, pushing the engineers and scientists to finish the build and fix the problems that keep surfacing (no pun intended). He can't be blamed for wanting them to get it right (after all, it is he who will perish if they don't); but I'm not sure viewers need such exploration of the preparation. For at least an hour, I was saying to myself "just get down there already."

After personal tragedies and systematic failures of epic proportion during testing are behind them, the trip finally takes place in 2012. The journey is long (over 35,000 feet) and insanely dangerous. It's hard to picture anyone but Cameron with the patience and passion to actually risk his life to do it—lucky for us it is him, and he does a beautiful job of capturing what he sees and experiences.

Though it could be argued that the sea life he encounters at elevations higher than his final mission are more illuminating than the desolate space at the bottom, there's an instant peace you can't help but experience, placing yourself for moments in his pod-like contraption and watching the quiet existence of nothing that is a magnificent something, wide-eyed in wonder.

If you've ever wanted to feel for a moment that you were part of an alternate world, treat yourself to this one-of-a-kind documentary. And enjoy the mysteries of the earth that are still yet undiscovered.


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