James Cameron plunges to ocean's depths in 'Deepsea Challenge 3D'

Wed Aug 6, 2014 3:17pm EDT
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By Patricia Reaney

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Oscar-winning director James Cameron ventured to the farthest reaches of the planet and fulfilled a childhood dream in "Deepsea Challenge 3D," a documentary that follows him on a record-breaking solo dive to the ocean's depths.

Tightly crammed into the tiny capsule of a vertical-diving submarine, the director of Hollywood's highest grossing films, "Avatar" and "Titanic," plunged 35,787 feet (10,908 meters) to the deepest known place on Earth in the Mariana Trench in the Pacific Ocean.

"Curiosity is the most important thing in my life," said Cameron, 59, whose team of experts designed and built the equipment to dive to the ocean's depths, photograph its fascinating creatures and gather samples for scientists.

"Part of it for me is the excitement of the engineering. Part of it is the excitement of physically going and seeing something that I know no human being has ever seen," he said in New York after a screening of the film that opens in U.S. theaters on Friday.

The dive in 2012 was the culmination of a seven-year project and the realization of a boyhood fantasy. Cameron had been enthralled with exploration since reading about French oceanographer Jacques Cousteau and was also inspired by the historic dive of Lt. Don Walsh of the U.S. Navy and Swiss oceanographer Jacques Piccard half a century earlier.

The 1960 Mariana Trench dive, the first to explore the deepest ocean depths, is depicted in the film. Walsh was also with Cameron as he began his dive.

Cameron admitted being nervous, although once he was bolted into the capsule and the 24-foot-long (7.3 meter-long) submarine was lowered from a ship into the dark, stormy water during the dangerous night dive the overwhelming emotion was excitement.

But at one point during the two and a half hour, nearly seven-mile descent Cameron said he thought, "This might be the dumbest idea I have ever had."   Continued...

Director James Cameron poses for a portrait in Manhattan Beach, California April 8, 2014. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson/Files