“Deepsea Challenge 3D” is a thrilling documentary about James Cameron’s incredible journey to the deepest point on planet earth. It was seven miles down in a complex vehicle named the Deep Challenge submersible.
For the multiple Oscar winner (“Titanic”) delays at sea turned into an unforeseen life changing opportunity. In 2002, the master filmmaker was returning home from a forensic study of the wreck site of the German battleship Bismarck in the North Atlantic when he and his crew found a rare luxury—time on their hands. The Russian vessel that carried them was not cleared to enter port until 10 days later than originally expected.
“I had nothing to do but go through all my Bismarck footage and sit and talk to the engineers,” Cameron said. “One of the topics that came up was the idea of a full ocean-depth vehicle.”
In exploring the wreck of the Bismarck, Cameron and his team had dived to depths of 16,000 feet in Mirs— two Russian-designed submersibles intended for scientific research. The deepest part of the ocean, the Mariana Trench, was more than double that. We’re talking nearly 36,000 feet. That’s deeper than Mount Everest is high.
“I thought, 16,000 feet—that’s not even half of full ocean depth,” Cameron said. Then a thought occurred to him, “What would it take to go all the way?” He didn’t know it then but that was the spark of an idea that led to the Deepsea Challenge.
Building the Challenger wasn’t always a smooth ride. “We hit, I would say, four or five hurdles that we thought were showstoppers,” Cameron said. “A more experienced team would’ve just stopped. But we didn’t know what was possible and what wasn’t, so we proceeded to do the impossible. It’s really about attitude. If you think you can do it, you can do it.”
“Deepsea Challenge 3D” opens Aug. 8, 2014. Rated PG. 90 min.