Words by Mpdclick’s Cinema Trend Researcher…
The world’s oceans have forever mystified and wowed us with its power and remarkable inhabitants. The continuous discovery of new creatures great and small shows that the mystery of marine life is never-ending. Over the vast span of his career, director James Cameron has always conveyed a great interest in the ocean and all its glory with ‘The Abyss’ (1989) and a few documentary shorts: ‘Ghosts of the Abyss’ (2003), ‘Aliens of the Deep’ (2005) and ‘Volcanoes of the Deep Sea’ (2003), which were all results of several deep sea expeditions made for both research and personal interest. This inspiration was further spotted in his 2009 epic 3D film ‘Avatar’ and now the oceanic influences will be taken even further in ‘Avatar 2’ (due for release 2014) as Cameron prepares to take moviegoers into the depths of Pandora’s oceans.
In 2003, James Cameron embarked on his second expedition to the wreck of the Titanic (described below), which has been quoted as the “site of his greatest inspiration”, some six years after he wrote and directed the eponymous film starring Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet.
“With a team of the world’s foremost historic and marine experts and friend Bill Paxton, he embarks on an unscripted adventure back to the final grave where nearly 1,500 souls lost their lives almost a century ago. Using state-of-the-art technology developed expressly for this expedition, Cameron and his crew are able to explore virtually all of the wreckage, inside and out, as never before. With the most advanced 3D photography, moviegoers will experience the ship as if they are part of the crew, right inside the dive subs. In this unprecedented motion picture event, made especially for IMAX 3D Theatres and specially outfitted 35mm 3D theaters across the country, Cameron and his team bring audiences to sights not seen since the sinking 90 years ago and explore why the landmark vessel more than any shipwreck continues to intrigue and fascinate the public.” – IMDB
A couple years later in 2005, he teamed up with NASA scientists to produce a documentary on their exploration of the Mid-Ocean Ridge, which is a submerged chain of mountains that band the Earth and are home to some of the planet’s most unique life forms. One can’t help but wonder if this particular expedition may have prompted some of his inspiration for the hybrid creatures of Pandora, such as the Hammerhead Titanothere (a combination of a rhinoceros and a hammerhead shark).
In ‘Avatar’ (2009) some of the fantastical creatures and plant life of Pandora appeared to take their movement & colour inspiration from marine life such as jellyfish (the seeds from the Tree of Souls, pictured below) and Christmas tree worms (the Helicoridians). Even some of the lighting effects and the concept for the Tree of Souls were inspired by the bioluminescence of Cameron’s night dives. The Neural Network of Pandora (pictured main), although is inspired by the neural network of the brain, bears an incredible resemblance to the effect of light shining through water.
Recently, Cameron announced plans to have a two-man multi-million dollar submersible built to take him to Challenger Deep at the base of the Mariana Trench; the deepest most treacherous spot in the world’s oceans, some seven miles beneath the surface of the Pacific Ocean. This trip has only ever been accomplished by two other explorers – Jacques Piccard and Don Walsh – to date and from their own words “it was a pretty hairy experience”. This new expedition will be a part of the pre-production process for ‘Avatar 2’.
The significance of this expedition does not simply mean the possibility of another awe-inspiring movie from the legendary director, but also the prospect of a wealth of marine research not yet gathered due to the treacherous depths. It also fuels an Mpdclick theory of a greater interest in the world’s oceans. As global warming progresses, ice caps melt and sea levels continue to rise causing concerns for coastal areas. Experts are hard at work in attempts to find a solution to how humankind and our world as we know it can survive the power of the sea.
For more information about initiatives surrounding rising sea levels, a project-soon-to-be-exhibition called ‘Rising Currents’ is an interesting starting point.
“The ‘Rising Currents’ project was inspired by a study conducted by the 2007 Latrobe Prize team. The study, On the Water: Palisades Bay, explores the New York/New Jersey Upper Bay region’s need for “soft” ecological solutions to reduce water damage from flooding and storm surge, rather than “hard” systems such as concrete dams.” – archrecord.construction.com. Read more about the project here.
Image source: Swissmadevfx.com