D O C U M E N T A R I E S
Bismarck is a 2002 documentary film produced for the Discovery Channel by Andrew
Wight and James Cameron, directed by James Cameron and Gary Johnstone, and
narrated by Lance Henriksen. The film follows an underwater expedition to the
German battleship Bismarck and digitally reconstructs events that led up to the
ship's sinking during World War II. In 2003 the film was honored with an Emmy
award for Outstanding Sound Editing for Non-Fiction Programming.
From the Back Cover:
It was WWII's most fearsome ship. A ship so powerful, it sank the pride of the
British fleet with a single salvo. Hearing the news, Winston Churchill saw no
choice. He sent nearly the
entire Royal Navy to hunt and destroy the Bismarck. But what really happened to
this German legend? Was she sunk? Or was she scuttled? Now Titanic director
James Cameron returns to the high seas to tell the tale and search for the
truth. Leading a team of explorers, historians and Bismarck survivors, Cameron
examines the wreck three miles down and discovers the answers that may finally
end the debate. With revolutionary production techniques and high-tech Remotely
Operated Vehicles, Cameron lights up this dark world and gives us the first
glimpse inside the Bismarck in more than 60 years. Stunning high-definition
footage shows underwater images with cinematic clarity. And cutting-edge
animation and ultra-realistic reenactments bring the survivors' stories to life.
Join the expedition and relive the dramatic final days of the DKM Bismarck.
Launched on May 18, 1941,
the Nazi battleship Bismarck was the largest war vessel of its kind ever built.
Wasting no time in making its mark on the Second World War, the Bismarck spent
the first eight days of its existence cutting a swath of destruction and
devastation throughout the North Atlantic, sending several Allied ships (and
sailors) to the bottom of the sea. But on day nine -- May 27, 1941 -- the
Bismarck itself was defeated and destroyed by the combined efforts of the
British battleships Rodney and King George. When the smoke cleared, the Bismarck
was sunk beneath the waves, carrying 2,106 German sailors with it.
Produced and directed by
James Cameron, the man who brought the movie megahit Titanic to life in 1997,
the two-hour documentary Expedition: Bismarck uses state-of-the-art technology
and filming equipment to offer viewers the first images of the Bismarck since
its death 61 years earlier. This required Cameron and his hardy crew to risk
their own lives by plunging some 16,000 feet into the icy North Atlantic, but
the end results were well worth the danger involved. Debuting on the Discovery
Channel cable network on December 8, 2002, Expedition: Bismarck was made
available on both video and DVD within a matter of days after its TV bow. ~ Hal
Erickson, All Movie Guide
primetime documentary, produced for Discovery Channel by James Cameron's
RTL aired this TANDEM co-financed production in Germany with a 25% market share
in the main advertising target group of 14 to 49 yrs., winning primetime for the
Oscar®-Winner James Cameron and his crew once again dive down to the depths of
the ocean to uncover the secrets of Germany 's "unsinkable" battleship DKM
Bismarck. The wreck, still upright on the North Atlantic floor, lay virtually
unexplored since a furious British Navy bent on revenge bombarded it into
oblivion in May 1941. James Cameron, who wrote, directed and appears in this
breath-taking and emotionally charged documentary, brought his deep-sea
filmmaking expertise and newly-advanced equipment and technology to conduct the
first detailed survey of the sunken ship and probe its ghostly interiors for the
first time ever.
James Cameron and his
brother Mike are determined to find out whom is really correct. They chart the
Russian research vessel the Akademik Keldysh and the submersibles Mir I and Mir
II. The Mir submersibles are the deepest diving and most advanced in the world.
Mike Cameron has designed some really expensive, really advanced undersea camera
equipment and Robotically Operated Vehicles (ROVs) to photograph the wreck in
detail and explore inside the ship. The Mir pilots are extremely experienced:
Whatever Jim Cameron wants done, they can do it. Whether what Cameron wants done
is safe or not is another issue.
is as devoted to the project as he is to any Hollywood blockbuster. “I enjoy
this”, Cameron says in an interview, “It’s an alternative to making movies,
which are as technically challenging, as emotionally challenging”. For Cameron,
it’s also a challenge to be able to do things as right and safely as possible to
emerge with great results.
Unlike on Cameron’s explorations of the Titanic, he has people on board with
knowledge of the ship, either from research or from first-hand experience. Two
historians of the Bismarck sea chase discuss the main points of the drama and
the various figures involved, providing a detailed framework. That framework is
filled in by two survivors invited to the expedition. They provide for some of
the movie’s more emotional moments, such as a small ceremony over the wreck
itself. And, knowledgeable as the historians may be, nothing beats experience.
A combination of newsreel footage, historical footage and re-enactments- both
live action (Filmed aboard the USS North Carolina, preserved as a museum ship)
and computer animated- help bring the story to life in a movie magic sense. But
nothing can match seeing the real thing: The time and money spent by Jim and
Mike Cameron is well worth from the first dive on. Startling footage shows
intact AA guns on the ship, or seaplanes resting inside the hanger. The damage
sustained to the bridge shows up in great detail, while the ROV gives us shots
in the innards of the wreck, revealing spring mattresses in crew quarters and
tables in the encoding room (One of the survivors worked as a coder onboard the
ship). Cameron also explores the stern area of the ship, and giving us the first
glimpse ever of the torpedo damage on the rudder which doomed the ship. Finally,
the hull is examined in thorough detail to settle the debate over whom really
sank the Bismarck.
GHOSTS OF THE
Ghosts of the Abyss is a 2003 documentary film released by
Walt Disney Pictures and Walden Media. It was directed by Academy Award winning
filmmaker James Cameron after his Oscar winning film Titanic. It consists of
Cameron and a group of scientists sailing out to the wreck of the Titanic, and
then going down to get closer than anyone has before. With the help of specially
created cameras, Jake and Elwood, the audience too can see inside the Titanic
and with the help of CGI, people can see how it would have originally looked.
Also along for the ride Cameron invites friend and actor Bill Paxton who played
Brock Lovett in the 1997 film. He narrates the event through his eyes. The film
itself was produced for IMAX 3D during the Summer of 2003. It was also nominated
for a BFCA award for Best Documentary.
The submersibles Mir 1 and Mir 2 carried the
Ghosts of the Abyss team on twelve
From Walt Disney website:
Walt Disney Pictures and James Cameron, the Academy Award(R)-winning
director of TITANIC (1997), present the groundbreaking cinematic achievement GHOSTS OF THE ABYSS. Joined by his personal friend Bill Paxton (TITANIC) and a
team of the world's foremost history and marine experts, Cameron journeys back
to the site of his greatest inspiration -- the legendary wreck of the Titanic.
During the voyage, you will explore the entire ship, deck by deck, room by room,
encountering mysteries that have remained hidden for almost a century.
Revolutionary underwater robots were designed and built solely for the purpose
of allowing the explorers to peer deep into the remains of the once great ship
and bring those surreal and haunting images back to the surface. Loaded with
never-before-seen footage, revealing interviews, and innovative DVD bonuses,
this unprecedented motion picture event is a must-own companion for anyone who
Ghosts of the Abyss, an IMAX rendered documentary that benefits from the
additional boost of state-of-the-art 3-D technology. The film combines Cameron's
love of the ocean with his continued thirst for historical knowledge,
specifically as it pertains to The Titanic. Cameron, who has become legendary
within Hollywood for stretching the limits of both man and machine when it comes
to his films assembled a rag-tag crew of scientists (and buddy Bill Paxton) and
together they spent several weeks exploring the insides of the sunken wreck of
one of the greatest ocean going vessels ever to breach the icy brine of the
As for Cameron himself, he's an avid diver, having logged countless hours
underwater both professionally and recreationally. And when you begin talking
about diving a warm smile crosses his face. Tell him that you, too are a diver
and would he recommend any particular spots and he's quick to mention Truk
Lagoon. "Well Truk, because it's a lagoon and it's in the tropics where the
plankton is driven down to a hundred feet, it's gin clear," he says of the
underwater visibility there. "You know, a bad day is a hundred feet. A good day
is a hundred and seventy-five feet." He pauses, then immediately ties it into
his fairly recent trip to the Titanic. "That's the kind of visibility we got
down at Titanic. Sometimes, not all the time. Sometimes it dropped down to about
fifty feet, but usually up around the hundred, hundred and twenty-five foot
mark. The limitation at the Titanic wreck is lighting, just pounding enough
light onto the ship to be able to see it. The ship is orange and orange light is
the first wavelength, or red is the first wavelength that you lose coming
through water. So you put a white light on an orange subject a hundred feet
away, eighty percent of the light is absorbed before it reaches you, because
it's only reflecting in the red end of the spectrum. All the blues are not
reflected so you've just lost most of the effect or your light. It's a tough
subject. The Bismark [referring to his Discovery Channel documentary Expedition:
Bismark] was much easier because it was gray, so it reflected the full
Looking at Cameron's body of work, specifically starting with The Abyss in 1989
(although one could argue that it all began with Piranha 2: The Spawning), then
Titanic, Ghosts of the Abyss, and his television documentary The Bismark it
seems as if he's been exorcising a distinctively liquidic fetish or, more
accurately, a nautical obsession. Cameron laughs at the terminology and quickly
states that he hasn't lost his water-oriented fixation. "Hell no. You know, I
could do and hope to do marine expeditions indefinitely, as long as I can still
function. I'll probably go back and forth, call it alternating years between
features, which might be about any subject and you know, oceanographic work,
'cause I love it. It's great and I enjoy it. You know, I was a diver before I
was a filmmaker. I was a wreck diver before I was a filmmaker."
Given Cameron's heavyweight Hollywood status, one can't help but wonder how he's
viewed amongst the scientific community, especially those who work within the
field of oceanography. Let's face it,
there's a huge divide between the realms of motion pictures and science. "You're
absolutely right," nods Cameron in agreement. "There's a real sense that nobody
in Hollywood knows their butt
a rat hole when it comes to science and technology, you know what I mean? I
think now that we've done a few of these things and we've generated the
technology for our own purposes that is the equivalent to or in some cases
better than what the science community has, a little bit of grudging respect has
started to emerge. What I'm hoping to do is to work with folks in the
oceanographic community really closely and say 'Look, I think not only are we
bringing resources to the table technologically that can be utilized, but you
have stuff that we need. And we're also bringing financial resources to the
table to put together expeditions to look at things that you might want to be
looking at also. You'll look at them differently, you'll be taking samples and
measurements and doing trans sects and things like that, which I don't care as
much about. But there's no reason why we couldn't co-fund an expedition, share
the basic expedition costs.' So that's the kind of deals that I'm going to be
looking to make in the future. To try to actually facilitate not only what I'm
doing, but to facilitate oceanographic research. Because frankly, those folks
are under funded."
That said, is Cameron at all attempting to assume the mantle/void left vacant by
Jacques Cousteau? "Cousteau was kind of the guy who defined the nexus of
exploration and filmmaking," expounds Cameron. "Because not only was he out
there exploring, but he was filming his exploration. He's far shifted over to
the explorer side, but he understood the value of sharing it with an audience to
fund his explorations. First of all Cousteau is the god, right? But the other
difference is that he dedicated his life to it. I'm not doing that. For me it
can never go that far because I still want to make movies, you know, the way
I've been doing in the past. But I'm very, very serious about trying to
facilitate research and exploration in any way that I can. I think that's at
least equally important as anything that I might do in Hollywood. And it
certainly helps keep you sane when you're working in Hollywood, as well.
Hollywood is this kind of closed bubble eco-system that feeds on itself and it's
entirely self-referential, you know? And that's not a healthy place to exist. I
like to be as comfortable sitting in a room with agents and studio heads as I am
sitting in a room with scientists or engineers or NASA people, that sort of
thing. I just think that it's the range of experience that then comes back into
the filmmaking and validates the filmmaking in a way. And I also have to tell
you that coming from a place of total artifice, which is what Hollywood
filmmaking is – everything is made-up, everything you see is created, everything
that is said was written down beforehand – to a place of shooting the real world
in all it's fantastic wonder and diversity and real people just doing and
behaving the way they do, that's very refreshing for me, you know? And it's a
lot of fun. It also gives me a lot of respect for documentary filmmakers, which
I probably never had before. Now our industry, the entertainment industry,
doesn't really respect documentaries that much. They're sort of low on the food
Scientific facilitation and newfound respect for the documentary aside, how does
Cameron hold up in terms of the hurling factor? Astute moviegoers will notice
that Bill Paxton is almost caught on film losing his cookies early on in the
documentary. As for Cameron? Well, he actually fesses up to the fact that his
stomach may be a bit weaker than Paxton's. "I think the truth of the matter is
that I threw up a lot more mildly than he did," he laughs. "Bill's got a
stronger stomach than I do. I mean I've done a lot more diving than he has, but
he did all the 'Vomit Comet' stuff in Apollo 13. To me, that's the challenging
part of the dive, when you have to surface. Underwater, I'm fine."
Directed By: James Cameron
Original Release Date: 4/27/04
Studio: Walt Disney Home Entertainment
Categories: Special Interest
Approximate Run Time: 90 MINUTES
MPAA: PG. For thematic elements
OF THE DEEP SEA (2003)
The depths of the ocean remain one of the last great mysteries on Earth. Far
below the waves is an incredible place teeming with life, but few people have
seen it... until now. For the first time you can be there, 12,000 feet below the
ocean's surface, inside an unparalleled undersea volcanic world filled with
strange creatures and dramatic landscapes. You've never seen anything like this
as brand-new lighting technology far superior to anything that's ever been used
before illuminates this secret realm. Exhibited to great acclaim in IMAX and
other giant-screen theaters around the world.
filmmaker Stephen Low directs the IMAX movie Volcanoes of the Deep Sea, with
Titanic director James Cameron as the executive producer. During its brief
40-minute running time, the film starts out with a 1977 expedition to find life
at the bottom of the sea. At depths as low as 10,000 feet, the discovery proved
the existence of underwater volcanoes and the plant life they help sustain.
Using the deep-sea diving vehicle known as Alvin, the filmmakers capture
large-format film footage of some of these underwater ecosystems along with some
helpful CGI reconstructions. Ed Harris delivers the narration.
With its spooky,
otherworldly rock formations, its unimaginably bizarre creatures, and its
mysterious remoteness from ordinary life, the deep ocean holds all the makings
of a genuinely magical science film. "Volcanoes of the Deep Sea" throws some
spectacular and previously unseen images onto the giant Imax screen, but it
stitches them together with a sometimes confusing narrative that only distracts
from the fascinating undersea world.
We begin on an unnamed coastline, with an unnamed man. Later we learn that the
coast is Spain's and that the man is a paleontologist named Dolf Seilacher. He's
talking about the "mistress" he acquired here on his honeymoon.
That mistress would be a small, elusive creature called Paleodictyon nodosum,
whose fossilized tunnels Seilacher discovered half a century ago. Remarkably, he
believes that the prehistoric creature, which he thinks is a kind of worm, still
exists; geologist Peter Rona has found similar hexagonal patterns of tunnels on
the deep ocean floor. But neither these two nor anyone else has ever seen the
So off we go into the deep, in search of Paleodictyon. But first we get some
back story: about Alvin, the famous submersible the scientists will use; about
the mid-ocean vents that an Alvin team discovered in the Pacific three decades
ago; about volcanic eruptions underwater and how and why they occur; about the
many weird creatures that live near these "volcanoes," properly known as
hydrothermal vents; about the connections between this deep-sea life and deep
space. It's all nicely narrated by Ed Harris. Perhaps, though, director Stephen
Low would have been wiser to go even further off the rails. For when we do
finally get back to Seilacher, as he and Rona eagerly slice open cores of
sediment to look for Paleodictyon, disappointment awaits. They find the tunnels,
but not the creatures.
Science is like that sometimes. But the failure to find a living creature makes
the decision to focus the film on the search for it an odd one. Perhaps this
emphasis was influenced by Rona's association with Rutgers University, which
coproduced "Volcanoes" and would naturally want to see its professor's discovery
"It was intended to give
people a really big view, and to show people stuff they otherwise couldn't see,
and take them somewhere they can't get to themselves," says Stephen Low,
producer and director of "Volcanoes of the Deep Sea." His business, the Stephen
Low Company, produced the film in association with Rutgers University. This
volcanic world, which has been there for billions of years, could well be the
origin of life on this planet, Low says. "It's on the edge of science fiction,"
he says. "There are a lot of things in nature that aren't well understood yet,
and a lot of mysteries that haven't been solved."
Perhaps the most bizarre and mysterious life form is an unidentified creature
that, for evidently billions of years, has been digging complex, hexagonal
tunnels in the mud. "How a creature could do that ... remains an
incredible mystery because it doesn't make any sense," Low says. Another mystery
is how organisms survive in the extreme heat of the underwater volcanoes, via
hydrothermal vents, he says. People like the "mystery and the weirdness" about
the Earth's hidden treasures seen in "Volcanoes of the Deep Sea," Low says.
"It's the kinds of things that are more likely to be on other planets," he says.
"It's a look at what life would be if we could find it elsewhere.
"You can't go scuba diving and see this stuff," Low says. "It's very dangerous
and very far away. ... This footage is the best view you'll ever get of these
very deep ocean environments."
THE DEEP (2005)
of the Deep is a 2005 documentary film directed in part by Academy Award-winner James Cameron and
filmed in the IMAX 3D format. It was produced by Walden Media and Buena Vista
Pictures. Cameron teams with NASA scientists to explore the Mid-Ocean Ridge, a
submerged chain of mountains that are home to some of the planet's more unique
forms of life.
Cameron joins up aboard the
Russian research vessel Akademik Mstislav Keldysh with a group of NASA
scientists, as well as some Russian marine biologists, to investigate ten
hydrothermal vents in both the Atlantic and Pacific. The vents have their own
unique ecosystem, which support diverse organisms such as giant tube worms,
swarms of blind white crabs, and vast amounts of shrimp which are capable of
"seeing" water that is heated by the vents. These creatures do not require
sunlight like other organisms, and instead obtain their energy from the vents.
They are able to survive in the superheated and sulfurous water. Because of
this, the documentary suggests that this is what life beyond Earth might look
like. As some alien ecosystems are likely to be a lot harsher than a typical
terrestrial ecosystem, these exotic vents provide an insight into some of the
forms that alien life might take.
The documentary shows
Cameron's passion for exploring the oceans, as well as his interest in
extraterrestrial life. It also showcases the technology employed to reach such
From Walt Disney Website:
Take a once-in-a-lifetime
journey with Academy Award®-winning director James Cameron (Best Director,
TITANIC, 1997) in ALIENS OF THE DEEP, and make contact with another world.
This incredible underwater adventure gives you extraordinary glimpses of
unbelievable creatures that live in an alien world in the deepest depths of
Could these alien life forms be clues to life in outer space? It's an exciting
exploration you'll not soon forget.
We can only applaud
James Cameron's willingness to take advantage of his fame and fortune and do
some real exploring. Then again, after watching it it's easy to understand why Cameron is doing
this: it really is like exploring a whole new world.
The documentary begins with a
short prologue informing us that we are all solar-powered. Life on Earth needs
the nourishing rays of the sun to survive. Yeah, sure, we all know this, but that's why it's all the more interesting to discover that, no, in fact
it is possible for life - complex life - to exist without ever having caught a
glimmer of sunlight. A small, but very experienced team was assembled for the
mission. There's Cameron, a marine biologist, an astrobiologist, several
Russian submersible drivers, a robotic scout expert (who also happens to be
James Cameron's brother), and the crew of the ship that the team is using as
their base of operations.
There's a great sequence in right as
the team is about to launch into the water. For some reason the large
"A-frame" device that will be used to lower the submersibles into the water
has broken; without it, there seems to be little hope for the rest of the
mission. No doubt pulling out some ideas from his film director bag of tricks,
James Cameron comes up with a solution: they can use the boat's on-board crane
to lower the ships into the water.
However, when lowering something with a crane the object is subjected to the
"wrecking ball effect" wherein it sways from side to side uncontrollably.
Given the fragile nature of the submersibles, this would be very bad. Cameron
also realizes that if they cut away the side wall of the boat, they could tie
ropes to the subs to keep them steady and then lower them in through the hole.
After a little practice the team implements the strategy and they're off;
ready to sink into the murky and unknown depths of the Pacific. Once they're
in the water you're treated to some fascinating sights. Some of the fish look similar, if slightly deformed, while
others are totally alien. One of the animals looks like a glowing parachute,
blowing in the wind. It prompted the astrobiologist to mutter, "How is that
Later on, the team lowers to a site that is full of underwater "exhaust
volcanoes." Essentially, these spots are fissures in the Earth where water is
heated due to its proximity to the molten core of the planet, but since all of
the water around it is below freezing, the water cannot boil and it's released
through small stone chimneys in the form of black smoke. This "smoke" is full
of nutrients and minerals.
When the team approaches one of these sites they notice that the rock around
the volcanoes is covered in what looks to be a massive white blanket. As they
get closer they see that the "blanket" is actually an impossibly large swarm
of crabs and squid. Somehow, thousands of meters below the water, in complete
darkness, this eco-system is thriving. How? As it turns out, the animals can
feed off of the minerals released by the underwater volcanoes. And just as
surprising, somehow they have adapted to an environment that can go from below
freezing to above boiling in the span of just a few feet. This discovery is
what propels the documentary into its second half, and the main focus of the
narrative. The scientists propose the question, and Cameron pushes it along:
if it is possible for life to exist in water without the presence of sunlight,
might one of the planets in our solar system contain life beneath its icy
surface? Our attention is then drawn to the planet Europa - one of Jupiter's
Europa appears to be a prime candidate for one of these underwater
life-sustaining planets. Through a sequence of wonderful CG animations we are
shown how NASA is planning a mission to send a probe to Europa, land safely,
deploy itself and, with the help of a nuclear-core, begin to melt away a hole
in the planet's crust. Once the probe breaks through to water, an autonomous
submersible unit will be deployed and it will begin to search for life.
The documentary ends in an exciting mock-up of man's possible encounter with
intelligent life on Europa
MYSTERIES OF THE TITANIC (2005)
newly developed technology, Cameron and his team present history’s best look
yet at the ship’s interior, including some areas not seen since Titanic’s lone
voyage in 1912. And since time and the harsh conditions of the ocean floor
have taken their toll on the ship, these may be the last images ever gathered
of the Titanic before it is surrendered to the deep forever.
The majestic Titanic has been an object of fascination and study for decades,
but many tantalizing questions still remain about the ship and its
catastrophic sinking. This expedition, Cameron’s final and most comprehensive
dive yet, attempts to uncover clues and solve some of the Titanic’s most
haunting mysteries. Throughout LAST MYSTERIES OF THE TITANIC, Cameron’s
specially designed remotely operated vehicles explore the Turkish Baths (the
best-preserved and most opulent remaining space in the ship’s interior),
Scotland Road (the crew quarters), the first class cabins (which are full of
countless personal possessions of the Titanic’s wealthy passengers), the
mysterious boiler room #6 and the cargo holds (which housed the luggage of the
ship’s first class passengers and remain largely unexplored).
LAST MYSTERIES OF THE TITANIC combines re-enactments, archival footage, and
the results of two new Titanic dives with live updates from James Cameron from
aboard one of the two MIR submersibles while at the wreck and from the Keldysh,
his research vessel. Re-enactments were filmed using sets built during the
production of the feature film, Titanic, and present a vivid look at
rarely-seen areas of the vessel. As this is his last expedition to the doomed
ship, the special also features Cameron’s live farewell to the Titanic.
With the technological savoir-faire that only a genius mind could offer,
Academy Award winner James Cameron explored the innermost spaces of the
Titanic shipwreck. The famous director of the movie by the same name led a
film team of underwater explorers on a series of historic dives.
From the interiors of a scientific submersible, Cameron navigated one to four
robots, in order to reach unexplored nooks and crannies of the gigantic liner
that sank in 1912. As the other scientists assisted, their faces told a much
grander story: this was their trip of a lifetime! They, unlike most of us sat
in a front row seat before an un-replicable screen at 12,000 feet on the ocean
The sea-floor-to satellite-data system revealed to the scientific team as well
as TV viewers areas of decay, but amazingly, also those which have been
beautifully preserved: Turkish baths with blue-green tiled walls intact, a
domed archway, and of course the famous bow—the one reminiscent of the famous
movie scene with Di Caprio and Winslet.
James Cameron is not only a film director, but a scientist by training; his
specialty is physics and his passion is shipwrecks. His two wrecks of
expertise to this point are the Titanic and the Bismarck. He has made
documentary films on both.
The director James Cameron would be the first to admit that he is obsessed by
the ocean. Ever since he first plunged into the murky depths at the age of 16,
the film-maker has been unable to kick the underwater habit.
He has dived into the subject again and again in his films - from The Abyss, in 1989
to, of course,
the multi-Oscar-winning Titanic.
According to the director, "beside film-making, the underwater world has
always been my other love. So if I get an opportunity to be able to put the
two together and to make a film on an underwater subject, then I can't be
happier. If I had to choose one over the other, I would probably dive."
So he was very pleased to be offered the opportunity to combine his two great
passions on his latest project, Last Mysteries of the Titanic, which is
showing on the Discovery Channel on Saturday. This is a fly-on-the-wreck view
of the Titanic, which lies two and a half icy miles beneath the surface of the
Atlantic off the Grand Banks of Newfoundland. For the purposes of the
programme, Cameron helms a flotilla of state-of-the-art research subs down to
the stricken ship. The aim is to gain access, for the first time since the
craft plummeted to the ocean floor, to what explorers see as the Titanic's two
"holy grails": the ship's Turkish baths and its boiler room.
He says he relishes the
sheer unpredictability of non-fiction. "Documentaries are hard," he asserts.
"The kind of filming I had done before, where you have a script and you know
what you're doing, is easy by comparison. When you're shooting a documentary,
you never know whether you're wasting your time every time you start squirting
off some footage, or whether this could be the moment of gold."
Cameron, who was born and bred in Kapuskasing, Canada, goes on to explain his
love affair with documentaries about the deep. "When I was a kid, exploration
was the most important thing. When I realised that I wasn't going to be an
astronaut and I wasn't really going to go to other planets, I became very
interested in the ocean.
"The imagery that Jacques Cousteau was putting on television back then in the
mid-Sixties made me realize that there are alien worlds right here on Earth
that you can explore for the cost of the Scuba equipment. I still have the same urge to explore and to understand the wonders of the
natural world. Now I'm getting to live that fantasy." A fortune estimated to
exceed $50m may well be helping him achieve that goal.
An imposing, 6'2" figure with a neatly clipped, greying, beard, the
five-times-married Cameron bubbles with enthusiasm about the life aquatic. A
self-confessed "nerd from Kapuskasing", he is utterly immersed in all things
maritime. As he outlines in exhaustive detail the technological advances that
have been made in submarine filming over the past few years, he breaks off for
a moment to laugh: "I must warn you, I'm into this stuff."
Cameron first became intrigued more than a decade ago by the story of the
Titanic, the grand liner that was launched in 1911 amid a blizzard of
ticker-tape and hype. Less than a year later, at 2.20am on 15 April, 1912, its
crew ignored all warnings of impending danger, and the ship struck an iceberg
and sank. Of the 2,208 people on board, only 705 - predominantly women and
children - survived.
The director worked the story up into a $200m shipwreck epic which soon sailed
into the record books as the highest-grossing movie of all time. It rang up an
eye-watering $1.7bn at box offices around the globe.
Cameron returned to the subject two years ago when he piloted a sub down to
the real wreck of the Titanic to make the 3-D documentary Ghosts of the Abyss.
So why, all these years after his initial interest was pricked, is the
film-maker still hooked on the story of the mighty liner that came to a
mightily sticky end?
"I felt I'd finished with it after making Ghosts of the Abyss," Cameron
concedes. "But a little voice in my head kept saying, 'You've only searched 30
per cent of the wreck.' And so I thought, 'This is unfinished business. We now
have new smaller, more sophisticated vehicles. Let's finish the job and make
the definitive archaeological survey.'"
But, more than that, Cameron emphasises that the Titanic has immense symbolic
significance. "You have to start from the fact that the Titanic is different
from all other shipwrecks," reflects the director, who has made several other
marine documentaries, including Expedition: Bismarck, Volcanoes of the Deep
Sea, and Aliens of the Deep.
"The Titanic has a great metaphorical and mythical value in the human
consciousness. Is it the most compelling thing in the world when we need to
find a cure for Aids and millions of people are dying in Africa? No, on that
scale, it's not a priority. But you have to think of the Titanic in terms of a
feature film or a novel - something that touches people's emotions. Wrecks are
human stories. They teach us something about ourselves. A wreck is a fantastic
window into the past. Steel can't lie - it doesn't have an agenda. These
wrecks are like time-capsules. We'll put parking lots over battlefields, but
underwater these sites are frozen in time. By visiting them, we can touch
So what does the Titanic have to teach us today? "People cluck and say it's
not relevant because the
class structure of that time doesn't exist anymore,
but it really does. Contrast the way we in the West live with they way people
live in, say, Africa or Indonesia. There is still first class and there is
still third class. We're all living on one big blue spherical Titanic."
Cameron continues that there are also lessons to be gleaned from the way the
ship came to grief. "Like the crew of the Titanic, we've identified the
icebergs, but we're not reacting quickly enough as we approach them. By the
time they reacted to the icebergs, their fate was already sealed. That's a
great metaphor for today. Think about global climate-change. By the time we
see evidence of it, it will be too late - a collision will inevitably occur. Mr Bush might have some questions to answer about that."
The director gives another
example of what we can learn from deep-sea treasure-troves. "Look at the wreck
of the Bismarck, the Nazi ship that I explored a couple of years ago. That
opens a window onto a specific time in history. It gives us an insight into a
certain mindset and makes it more immediate. A lot of kids watched Expedition:
Bismarck, and all of a sudden to them the Second World War became more real.
"It's a way for me to give something back, in a sense, and not just be a
taker, who just makes films and makes a lot of
money, because ultimately that
doesn't really return anything other than entertainment value. I don't want to
negate that, but I think there's so much else that can be done.''
He is awestruck by the often unheralded endeavours of scientific researchers.
"I identify with them. They're basically people who don't live in a glamorous
world. They live off the beaten path and spend a lot of time on ships at sea.
They're, in a sense, cloistered in academia, but they're really heroes because
they're at the cutting edge of human exploration. They're at the frontier of
He believes that the work of such pioneers underlines the shallowness of our
celebrity-fixated society. "Most people are involved in making money.
Unfortunately, in our society you are seen as a chump if you don't do that.
People who pursue other dreams are the ones who interest me most, whether they
are artists, explorers, writers, scientists, or people looking for some
greater meaning or other purpose. I think these are the only people worth
knowing and worth celebrating.
"Unfortunately, our Western society tends to celebrate the wrong people,
people who entertain us in a very superficial way but don't entertain us
intellectually. I don't have any problem with those folks, I just don't
think that they should be put on a pedestal." After winning 11 Oscars for
Titanic in 1997, Cameron was himself put on a pedestal by Hollywood moguls.
He could have named his movie - and his price - but elected not to repeat
himself with endless clones of his greatest hits.
Finally, though, he thinks the time is right for him to return to feature
films because he can now harness new technology to make something entirely
fresh. Unsurprisingly, he has opted for an almost insanely ambitious sci-fi
blockbuster. It is clear that the director of such ground-breaking films as
The Terminator and Terminator 2, Aliens, The Abyss, and True Lies wants his
comeback movie to make as big a splash as they did.
So does this return to movie-making indicate that Cameron has finally got the
Titanic out of his system? He reckons so. The director, who was reportedly at
the head of the queue to pay $200,000 to go on Virgin's inaugural commercial
space mission, says that "with Last Mysteries of the Titanic, I'm hoping we'll
able to lay a few questions to rest. I've made the decision not to return
anymore. We've shed a lot of light on it now, and enough's enough. It's time
to move on.
That does not mean, however, that Cameron will stop being fascinated by this
gigantic hulk of metal that has lain rusting on the ocean bed for almost a
century. As far as he's concerned, the Titanic spell has not yet been broken.
"Over the years," Cameron muses, "I've found the Titanic story to be a
wonderfully rich and renewable metaphor for the way we look at the world. I'm
afraid that human nature has not changed much since 1912 - if at all!"
History Channel's documentary created by Jewish Canadian filmmaker Simcha
Jacobovici and the producer/director James Cameron. The documentary explores
evidence for the Biblical account of the Exodus. Its claims and methods were
widely criticized both by Biblical scholars and by mainstream scientists.
Jacobovici suggests that the Exodus took place around 1500 BC, during the
reign of pharaoh Ahmose I, and that it coincided with the Minoan eruption. In
the documentary, the plagues that ravaged Egypt in the Bible are explained as
having resulted from that eruption and a related limnic eruption in the Nile
Delta. While much of Jacobovici's archaeological evidence for the Exodus comes
from Egypt, some comes from Mycenae on mainland Greece, such as a gold
ornament that somewhat resembles the Ark of the Covenant.
The documentary makes extensive use of computer animation and visual effects
made by Gravity Visual Effects, Inc., based in Toronto
What if it is all true —
Moses parted the waters, 10 plagues fell on Egypt, the Israelites took a mass
journey out of Egypt? Simcha Jacobovici, an investigative reporter and
filmmaker, contends that he has assembled a compelling case for the veracity
of the biblical story of the Exodus. He unveils his theories in a 90-minute
documentary called “The Exodus Decoded,”. Mr. Jacobovici, an Emmy-winning
documentary maker, directed, produced and narrated “Exodus Decoded,” based on
six years of research and three years of filmmaking. The $3.5 million film was
broadcast on the Discovery Channel in Canada in April and was shown in Israel
in July at the Jerusalem Film Festival. He made front-page news in both
countries with the film.
Among his attention-getting ideas is that the Exodus occurred more than 200
years earlier than most scholars believe. He suggests that the biblical
plagues and the parting of the Red Sea can be attributed to a volcanic
eruption some 3,500 years ago in what is modern Greece. And he believes that
he has located the lost Ark of the Covenant (in the National Archaeological
Museum in Athens) and identified the real Mt. Sinai (Gebel Hashem el-Tarif in
Northeast Sinai, close to the border of modern Israel).
“How did we do it?” the tall, bespectacled Mr. Jacobovici asks at the start of
the film, which includes special effects and onscreen musings by the executive
producer, James Cameron, who wrote, directed and produced the 1997 film
“Titanic.” “By tracking down experts from a variety of disciplines who rarely,
if ever, talk to each other. None of them fully subscribes to our take on the
story, but many possess critical pieces of the puzzle, and what emerges will
challenge even the most skeptical.”
Mr. Jacobovici, who lives in Toronto, was making the media rounds in New York
for the United States debut of “Exodus Decoded.” Among his other film credits
are “Hollywoodism: Jews, Movies and the American Dream” and “Quest for the
Lost Tribes.” And now Exodus. Mr. Jacobovici knows that most scholars remain
skeptical of his ideas and that there is not a single archeological artifact
supporting the story of Exodus.
“The short version is that it all started with my very first film about the
black Jews of Ethiopia,’’ Mr. Jacobovici said in an interview, fresh from an
appearance on “Today.” “It was the first time I saw that conventional wisdom
is not necessarily correct,’’ he said, referring to the debate he kicked off
with “Falasha: Exile of the Black Jews.”
Mr. Jacobovici, a 53-year-old Israeli-born Orthodox Jew and a father of five,
said he was not grinding any particular ideological ax in his new film. “My
question was simple,’’ he said. “Has anybody checked the biblical account in
He argued that a reporter examining a biblical story was no different from a
detective solving a murder. “We don’t expect a DNA guy to solve a mystery,’’
Mr. Jacobovici said of the credentials needed to investigate a story usually
left to disciplines like archeology, geology, history and Jewish studies.
“Exodus Decoded” makes no grand theological pronouncements. It ends by asking
viewers to decide whether the events depicted in the Bible are caused by
nature or divine intervention.
Mr. Cameron, who met Mr. Jacobovici through a mutual friend, said he had
always been fascinated by archeology and history. (In the 2003 IMAX
documentary “Ghosts of the Abyss,” Mr. Cameron actually journeyed to the
submerged Titanic wreck.) Mr. Jacobovici’s project so excited him, Mr. Cameron
said, that he helped him to shape it and convinced him to narrate it.
“What Simcha was able to demonstrate, quite definitively, is that the Exodus
took place,” Mr. Cameron said. “When you get into the miracles, that’s more
conjecture.” He said he believes that Mr. Jacobovici “takes risks and makes
leaps that academics can’t make.”
James K. Hoffmeier, a professor of Near Eastern Archeology and Old Testament
at Trinity International University in Deerfield, Ill., is one of the
academics interviewed in the film. He said that Mr. Jacobovici does not make
his case. Some of his evidence — about natural disasters, for example — has
been presented and knocked down before, Mr. Hoffmeier said.
In the last 20 years the debate about the historic accuracy of the Bible has
heated up, said Mr. Hoffmeier, who is now at Oxford University teaching a
course centered on the biblical Exodus story. “It’s become such a hot topic in
academe that it has trickled down into the popular culture, “ Dr. Hoffmeier
said in a telephone interview from England. “I have been on five or six shows
where the producer is putting forth their theory about Exodus,” and such shows
often generate more debate, he said. James Kugel, a former professor of Hebrew
literature at Harvard, wrote in an e-mail interview from Israel: “Personally,
I would be thrilled if Mr. Jacobovici’s research had actually succeeded in
establishing the veracity of the biblical account of the exodus from Egypt,
since archeologists and modern scholars of the Hebrew bible are generally so
skeptical about it.
“But I’m afraid he hasn’t really addressed the main arguments that the
skeptics advance. Those arguments cover a variety of different issues:
apparent contradictions within the biblical account, the absence of any
external documentary or archeological support for an exodus involving the
large numbers of people reported in the Bible or for the entry of such a group
into Canaan, as well as the logistical difficulties that the exodus as
described in the bible would have entailed.”
Mr. Kugel said that the lack of evidence for an exodus does not mean that
there wasn’t one, and that he believes there was one. If “Exodus Decoded” gets
people thinking about the Bible, Mr. Kugel added, so much the better.
Mr. Jacobovici’s unifying theory, among his many other conjectures, is that
the eruption of a volcano on the Greek island of Santorini indirectly created
the conditions for the plagues that were recounted in the Old Testament. He
theorizes that the earthquakes and other gas and volcanic eruptions caused
darkness, for example, by spewing ash and also created a seismic disruption
that parted Lake El Balah — not the Red Sea — and engulfed the Egyptian army.
Carbon dioxide vapors killed the first-born Egyptian males who were sleeping
on the ground, as opposed to the younger children who slept high up or the
Jews who were sitting upright for Passover, he said.
He also offers proof, he says in “Exodus Decoded,” for the idea of a mass
exodus of Semitic slaves from Egypt. Egyptian history shows that the Hyksos
who ruled the walled city of Avaris were Semites like the Israelites and that
they left on a mass exodus known as the “Hyksos Expulsion.”
Most scholars say that the Hyksos left Egypt hundreds of years before Moses
was born. Mr. Jacobovici theorizes in the film that if the Hyksos are the
Israelites, it would change the date of the Exodus (now believed to be around
1270 B.C.). He is then seen finding artifacts (a wall painting, writing in a
cave) that he says support the idea of Moses leading the slaves to freedom.
In the end, Mr. Jacobovici said, people will have to decide what they want to
believe. He said that his documentary deepened his own faith. He
triple-checked his facts, he said, and welcomes a debate about the evidence.
“I’m not in the theology business,” he said. “I’m a filmmaker.”
TOMB OF JESUS (2007)
and Vision TV in Canada on March 4, 2007 covering the discovery of the Talpiot
Tomb. It was directed by Canadian documentary and film maker Simcha Jacobovici
and produced by Felix Golubev and Ric Esther Bienstock, while James Cameron
served as executive producer. The film has been released in conjunction with a
book about the same subject, The Jesus Family Tomb, issued in late February
2007 and co-authored by Jacobovici and Charles R. Pellegrino. The documentary
and book's claims are currently the subject of controversy within the
archaeological and theological fields, as well as among linguistic and
biblical scholars. Following the March 4, 2007 airing of The Lost Tomb of
Jesus on the Discovery Channel, American journalist Ted Koppel aired a program
entitled The Lost Tomb of Jesus—A Critical Look, whose guests included the
director Simcha Jacobovici, James Tabor, Chair of the Department of Religious
Studies at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte who served as a
consultant and advisor on the documentary, Jonathan Reed, Professor of
Religion at the University of LaVerne and co-author of Excavating Jesus
Beneath the Stones, Behind the Text, and William Dever, an archaeologist with
over 50 years experience in Middle Eastern archaeological digs.
MSNBC TODAY interview
Is Jesus’ tomb under an
apartment complex in Jerusalem? A new book and documentary claim limestone
ossuaries, or bone boxes, found in a first-century burial place in the Talpiot
neighborhood of this ancient city may not only belong to Jesus’ family, but
also provide evidence Jesus and Mary Magdalene were buried together and had a
son. TODAY talked to Simcha Jacobovici, an Emmy Award-winning journalist who
wrote and directed “The Lost Tomb of Jesus,” and James Cameron, who was the
documentary’s executive producer. Cameron, director of such Hollywood
blockbusters as “Titanic,” “Aliens,” and “Terminator 2:Judgment Day,” said he
knew making a film on Jesus’ family tomb would be controversial, but it was a
story that had to be told. “We now know more about [Jesus] than we’ve known
for literally thousands of years. I think that’s pretty amazing,” he said. “I
think that’s the power of film.” Here’s an edited version of the interview:
TODAY: The 10 ossuaries were excavated from a tomb found at a construction
site in 1980. How did you become involved in trying to identify them as
belonging to the Jesus’ family more than 20 years later?
Simcha Jacobovici: I got involved in making a film called “James, Brother of
Jesus” a few years ago in 2002. An ossuary surfaced through the antiquities
market in Israel that said shocking words: James, son of Joseph, brother of
Jesus. If this inscription was authentic it was the first tangible,
carved-in-stone proof that Jesus of Nazareth was a historical figure. I was
brought into that project by Herschel Shanks, who’s the editor of the Biblical
Archeology Review. And I ended up making a film on that particular bone box,
which become controversial because there is a trial right now as we speak. It
starts again on the 27th that the owner of that bone box. That bone box was
not found in situ by archeologists. It didn’t have provenance. They didn’t
know where it came from. It came through dealers. And some people charge that
the words “brother of Jesus” were forged and were added on later. So I covered
In the course of that
investigation, I came across a cluster of bone boxes that said, Jesus, son of
Joseph, two Mary’s, a Matthew, and a Judas, son of Jesus. They were sitting on
warehouse shelves like in “Indian Jones’ Raiders of the Lost Ark,” just
sitting there being ignored. And no one argued about their provenance. They
were authentic. And I thought oh my God, has anyone actually investigated
this? And one thing led to another. I came to Jim Cameron with the evidence
that I had at that time. And the result is what we are unveiling now.
TODAY: Why go to Mr. Cameron?
James Cameron: Go ahead. (Turns to Jacobovici.) I don’t know why you did. You
have to tell them. (Laughs.)
Jacobovici: For two reasons. One is that the book, which has just come out at
the same time as the film, is co-written by Dr. Charles Pellegrino and myself.
Charles Pellegrino is a friend of Jim
Cameron and they had written a
book on the Titanic. They know each other. The second thing is that when we
needed to put the film together, we know it obviously had to be a film of a
certain stature. And we needed somebody to work on it with us who had that
stature. And Charles Pellegrino said the man is James Cameron. He’s the man. I
had only known Jim Cameron as the maker of the “Titanic” and blockbusters like
that. I didn’t know him as someone interested in all these documentaries.
Really in a sense he was a documentary filmmaker as well. So when we all got
together and he started cross-examining me on the facts as any executive
producer or an editor at a newspaper, we all realized that we had a good team,
and we moved forward: Charlie, Jim and I. It’s been two- or three-year
Cameron: It’s almost exactly two years. It was March of ‘05 that Charlie
introduced me to you and that I heard about this project for the first time. I
knew very little of first-century Christianity at the time, but I’ve studied
it pretty intensely since then. I don’t pretend to be an archeologist and I
don’t pretend to be an historian, but when I get interested in a subject, I’ll
read voraciously on it. So I wanted to qualify as a proper member of the team.
We also knew that the investigation would take us on a journey — and it did.
We couldn’t have predicted exactly where it would have come out; we couldn’t
have predicted for example, in that we’d be successful in chemically
fingerprinting the James ossuary to the Talpiot tomb, which I think is hugely
significant in the analysis in the outcome of this. So Simcha and I became
I had already friends with Charlie Pellegrino. Charlie and I had become
friends during the Titanic investigations. We had dived together at that wreck
site and on different expeditions. He knew that I loved a detective story,
that I loved forensic archeological investigations. I had consulted with him
on some things that he had been doing both at Ground Zero here, which he
treated as an archeological site, and at the Vesuvius sites of Herculaneum and
Pompeii and [in Santorini. The Minoan civilization existed on Crete and what
was on the island called Thera at the time. I pursue film projects where I
think I’m going to learn something, where I believe my curiosity is going to
be satisfied in some way. And this was that type of project.
Cameron: Yes, I think we
certainly understood that this would be controversial. And by the way, we
welcome peer review. We think that this is a significant find and we think
that this bears a lot more study than a Discovery Channel documentary has the
resources to do. Did we talk about the repercussions of this? Of course, we
did. In fact, I was even hesitant to get involved in this project I had to
think, do I want this in my life. But ultimately my decision was as a
documentary filmmaker, a story this important needs to be told. So I decided
to pursue it.
Now in respect with the resurrection, and Simcha can speak to this as well,
neither one of us are theologians, but certainly we’ve been dealing with
biblical scholars, biblical archeologists, and so on, so we have a passing
knowledge in that area. The resurrection itself is not challenged. Jesus may
well have risen. And having risen, according to the scriptures, walked the
earth, for an additional 40 days, appeared in corporeal form and spiritual
manifestations, including a child, and including someone that his disciples
didn’t recognize at first and things like that. And then ultimately ascended
Where you get stuck is the physical ascension to heaven, taking his bones and
body with him to heaven, instead of leaving them behind on earth. Many
Christians don’t take that literally, some do. That is where I think there is
going to be controversy or denial or pushback or people think it is a fake or
whatever they want to say. Again, we’re not theologians and we’re not even
archeologists. We’re documentary filmmakers, so we can only report what the
experts are saying. I think if you see they film and you read the book, you’ll
see that a very compelling case is made and it does ask many questions and
many people should discuss this
Jacobovici: I’m not a
Christian, but philosophically speaking, but philosophically speaking, people
are jumping to the conclusion that finding physical evidence of a burial place
of Jesus is some how challenging the resurrection. Logically, it really isn’t.
I’ve spoken to some theologians and they’ll have to weigh in. Since Christian
theology holds that Jesus was dead for three days and he rose. During those
three days whether he was in this tomb or that tomb doesn’t deny or confirm
resurrection. So I think people are jumping to a conclusion that is really not
part of the investigation of this film. Yes, the ascension, if people believe
in a spiritual ascension, there is no issue. People believe in a physical
ascension then that’s something Christian theologians will have to discuss.
But what we have done, we have just come back and reported a set of facts.
There is a tomb. There are inscriptions in it. They match the gospel story.
They match the noncanonical text: The text that didn’t make it into the
Cameron: And the Synoptic Gospels are well matched. It was interesting last
night we were talking to James Tabor, who was one of our consultants, one of
our experts on this. He’s the head of religious study at the University of
North Carolina at Charlotte, he was saying, if someone had come to me and
asked me to profile what I would expect to find in the Jesus family tomb, I
would’ve said that there first of all there would be the tomb of James,
because he succeeded Jesus in the early Christian church. He ran it for a
while before he was himself was martyred. So it would be the tomb of James. He
would have the wherewithal to create to greener the family tomb. In there
would be the mother. Mom would be there. Mary Magdalene would be there. The
brothers would be there. The sisters would be there. And Jesus would have been
there. We believe the unmarked ossuaries contain the bones of the sisters. And
if you look at what was in the tomb it almost exactly matches what biblical
school and history would have expected to find in the tomb.
Jacobovici: You have to remember that the tomb was dismissed in 1980, when it
was first discovered, for two reasons. It wasn’t even published. Even a report
wasn’t written. We wouldn’t have known it existed except for literally a
handful of archeologists. Like four people; five people. It was dismissed
today by people who haven’t seen the film. They are still dismissing. One is
yes there were two Marys, but the second Mary wasn’t Mary Magdalene, and these
were common names. Therefore, there is nothing to it. It’s like finding John,
Paul, and George, but it doesn’t mean you found the Beatles. The people who
were dismissing this as common names were archeologists. Yes, they have a
skill set, but it’s not statistics. So what we did was we asked statisticians
if is this impressive, if this is compelling. And what they said was
individual the names may be common, but the cluster is statistically
TODAY: The other controversy here is the role Mary Magdalene played. If the
ossuary contained her bones that would change some of the tenants of
Cameron: No, it doesn’t
really change anything. Mary Magdalene is in the canonical gospels. She’s the
woman in the New Testament mentioned most next to Jesus’ mother. She’s
mentioned all over the place. She’s at the crucifixion; she’s at the
resurrection. Why is this woman in the story? It was much later, centuries
later, that this idea that she was the fallen woman who was redeemed, that she
was the prostitute. That was not there originally and if you find these other
texts that talk about her, we find a very different picture of her.
TODAY: That will remind people of “The Da Vinci Code.” Do you think that that
is going to blur some of the claims are you are making in this documentary?
Cameron: We began this documentary before I had read the “The Da Vinci Code”
and well before the movie was released. We were a year into it at that point.
Actually, there was some discussion at the Discovery Channel that we should
come out before “The Da Vinci Code.” We had enough information to tell a story
at that time, but we hadn’t done our forensic investigation. And we elected to
continue with our forensic investigation and we actually put a year between us
and “The Da Vinci Code” to let these ideas marinate. I actually thought it was
a good thing.
“The Da Vinci Code” is
actually well researched. It’s not necessary accurate in all places, but there
are a few ideas in there that have significance. For instance, when I look at
it as paving the way for some of these ideas that some people may consider to
be quite radical, but were rather well researched in that movie. The idea that
Mary Magdalene might have been Jesus’ companion or even his wife is a fairly
radical, even though amongst scholars its been discuss for some time. But as a
public concept it hasn’ been out there. The thing that people need to remember
is that this is not fiction. The film that we’ve made is a film of an
investigation, an investigation done by a small group of journalists, working
with the some of the best archeological experts, biblical scholars, and
biblical historians in the world, who have been involved in this film under
non-disclosure agreements for a year or more. So, this is not fiction and
people really have to make that distinction in their minds.
TODAY: What do you think is going to happen? The tomb where the ossuaries were
found has been resealed. At this point, what do you think is going to happen
with the release of the book and the documentary?
Cameron: Well, I think that there’s a lot more investigations that have to be
done. It would be nice to get access to the tomb again, take more patina
samples. There are some inscriptions there that have not been translated yet.
There are things that still need to be studied. There are other tombs in the
region that need to be studied. And I think what should ideally happen now,
once the dust settles, the serious scholars who work in this field should get
involved, should look at the evidence and argue about it. They all have
different opinions, different perspectives, different agendas, and different
backgrounds. But they also have different pieces of knowledge. There is a
limit to what we can do on a small documentary film budget. This is an
important find and an important hypothesis that we’re putting forward. We have
enough evidence to say with confidence that it is. But other evidence could
come in tomorrow that challenges that. That’s in the nature of any scientific
TODAY: This can be one of the great archeological discoveries of our lifetime.
How does it compare to your other work?
Cameron: Well, I don’t put my ego in this, so I don’t take great satisfaction
in attaching my name to something like this. I’m just very curious. I’m a
curious guy. I can’t turn away from an investigative story, when it comes to
the forensic analysis. I’ve done 33 dives, to the titanic wreck site. I’ve
spent over 50 hours piloting robotic vehicles at that wreck trying to piece
together what happened during the disaster. How the ship broke up, comparing
the historical record with the forensic record. We did the same thing with the
Bismarck. I’ve made five documentaries in the past few years. In fact, I
haven’t made a feature film in 10 years. So this is kind of my new life. I
love documentary filmmaking.
When I got involved with Simcha, he was in progress with at the time which was
called “Exodus Decoded,” which looked at the eruption on the island of Thera,
which is now Santorini. The remnants of that volcano are now the islands of
Santorini. And I got involved in that project because I was fascinated by the
Theran and Minoan civilizations. They were at least the equivalent of the
Egyptians of that time and they got blown up. Maybe that was the origin of the
Atlantis myth. But it was a fascinating area of study and so I got involved in
that project. That was my first official archeological project, even though
I’ve studied archeology my whole life — as a layman. That lead to this.
This is such an amazing
story. I followed my curiosity. I was fascinated by early Christianity and how
it all began. How did these ideas take root? How did they ultimately transform
western civilization? You trace it back and at the source there was one man
preaching to the poor; people who were herding goats in a small country was
dominated, under the boot heel, of Rome at the time. And some how this idea
took hold and flourished and is the one of the mainstays of our western
civilization. That’s pretty fascinating and the idea of tangible physical
evidence of his life, his relationships with other members of his family. We
now know more about him than we’ve known for literally thousands of years. I
think that’s pretty amazing. I think that’s the power of film.
THE FINAL WORD WITH JAMES CAMERON (2012)
the world fell in love with Kate and Leo in 1997, 'Titanic' director James
Cameron found himself falling for the mighty ship itself.
Titanic: The Final Word With James Cameron is an in-depth two-hour special,
featuring some of the world's foremost Titanic experts who solve some of the
enduring mysteries behind her downfall.
With incredible underwater footage and scenes from Cameron's iconic Hollywood
blockbuster, this remarkable programme lays the myths to rest.
An investigation of this magnitude has never been attempted before. And its
revelations may change what you know of Titanic's last hours 100 years ago.
CAMERON: VOYAGE TO THE BOTTOM OF THE EARTH (2012)
to the Bottom of the Earth, chronicles Cameron’s historic one-man dive in
March of 2012 to the Mariana Trench’s Challenger Deep, the ocean’s deepest
point and perhaps the most isolated place on the planet.
Cameron describes his journey to this ocean’s depth right here on Earth
during his most in depth interview to date: “I was watching the numbers
going deeper. The sub slows down as you get to the target depth. There is a
long moment of getting to think about it. Then you have to get busy. You
have less than a thousand feet from the bottom, you fine-tune the ballast,
adjust the camera, turn up the spotlight. As the altimeter counted, I saw
the glow of the bottom!”
The visionary filmmaker and National Geographic Explorer-in-Residence
descended 6.8 miles to the spot known as the Challenger Deep in the Pacific
Ocean’s Mariana Trench, an area deeper than Mt. Everest is tall. The
record-breaking trip that made headlines around the world was part of
DEEPSEA CHALLENGE, a joint scientific expedition by Cameron, National
Geographic and Rolex to conduct deep-ocean research and exploration. Cameron
is the only individual ever to complete the dive in a solo vehicle and the
first person since 1960 to reach the very bottom of the world in a manned
James Cameron: Voyage to the Bottom of the Earth features Cameron’s most
personal interview to date on the remarkable journey. Culled from more than
two hours of his firsthand accounts of the project, it details everything
from more than seven years of development to the actual moment he touched
the bottom of the Earth. The project is also his first expedition as a
National Geographic Explorer-in-Residence.
“I couldn’t think of a better partner. National Geographic as an
organization has always stood for the spirit of exploration. It’s what the
magazine and the channel has been famous for, coming back from the boundary
of human exploration. It’s a legacy of promoting exploration and keeping
people excited about something new,” said Cameron.
Cameron shares his thoughts as he aborts one of the first test dives, the
emotions he felt during the eerie descent through darkness and the
calculated decisions he had to make once he reached the bottom.
At 6’2″ tall, Cameron found fitting into the customized submersible, which can
withstand 16,000 pounds per square inch of pressure (the equivalent of putting
the weight of three SUVs on top of a human toe) a unique challenge: He had to
keep his knees bent for hours, with only a few inches of arm movement critical
to operating the vehicle. Customized cameras inside the high-tech submersible
will let viewers experience the cramped quarters from Cameron’s point of view.
In the special, Cameron recalls the highs and lows of the more than seven-year
design phase of the spherical sub (called DEEPSEA CHALLENGER) that was specially
built to endure the elements, and even shrinks about 3 inches because of the
pressure during the descent.
CGI animation also illustrates the colossal scale of the trip to reach the
bottom, which took over two hours. Slowly diving past the lowest level a nuclear
submarine can reach, beyond the last traces of sunlight at 3,300 feet,
continuing to the depth of Titanic’s final resting place at about 12,500 feet
and diving deeper than the height of Mt. Everest at 29,035 feet until finally
reaching his ultimate goal — the ocean floor! Cameron describes in detail what
he saw when he touched bottom: “It was like someone rolled latex paint on
Masonite. We’re talking pretty much the bleakest place I’d seen in the ocean.”
The historic dive was a huge triumph that succeeded not only in filming the
ocean’s deepest point for scientists and lovers of the ocean everywhere but also
highlighting the need for oceanic research. The oceans are the last frontier,
with a territory the size of Australia largely unexplored.
As the DEEPSEA CHALLENGE expedition enters its next phase, Cameron says, “More
money gets put into space exploration, but the ocean is our life support here on
spaceship Earth. And we’re destroying it faster than we’re exploring it. I think
it draws attention to the ocean and the lack of funding for ocean exploration.”
The DEEPSEA CHALLENGE expedition was chronicled for a 3-D feature film on the
intensive technological and scientific efforts behind this historic dive. The
event was also documented for National Geographic magazine. Cameron also will
collaborate with National Geographic to create broad-based educational outreach
LIVING DANGEROUSLY (2014)
Years of Living
Dangerously is a 9-part Showtime documentary television series focusing on
climate change that premiered on April 13, 2014. James Cameron, Jerry
Weintraub and Arnold Schwarzenegger and investor Daniel Abbasi are executive
producers of the series. Joel Bach and David Gelber, former 60 Minutes
producers, are co-creators of the series as well as executive producers.
Joseph Romm and Heidi Cullen are the chief science advisors.
The weekly episodes feature celebrity
investigators, who travel to areas around the world and throughout the U.S.
affected by global warming to interview experts and ordinary people affected by,
and seeking solutions to, the impacts of climate change. The celebrities include
Harrison Ford, Matt Damon, Jessica Alba, Don Cheadle, America Ferrera, Lesley
Stahl, Ian Somerhalder, Olivia Munn and Schwarzenegger. Schwarzenegger said that
he has been thinking about why the issue of climate change has not yet resonated
strongly with the public despite the warnings from the scientific community: "I
think the environmental movement only can be successful if we are simple and
clear and make it a human story. We will tell human stories in this project. The
scientists would never get the kind of attention that someone in show business
After a long period of
development, James Cameron’s terrific and powerful mega-project on climate
change, “Years of Living Dangerously”, opened April 13th on Showtime. The first
hour installment of the 9 part series features glimpses of climate change
impacts around the planet through the eyes of well known guides. The series
sets a dramatic, powerful urgent tone. The first episode takes the bull by the
horns – crisscrossing the planet to take snapshots of climate impacts, and the
processes behind them, through the eyes of those impacted.
Don Cheadle explores
drought impacts in the US Southwest. Maybe not so surprising – the very people
who are being crushed by the impact of climate change, lower class rural folk in
Texas, are unable to make a connection between global climate and their
problems. They prefer to believe the problems come from God, or natural cycles.
Climate Scientist Katharine Hayhoe is profiled in her battle against entrenched
attitudes and scientific ignorance in that part of the world.
Tom Friedman looks into
the impacts of drought on the drought fueled civil war in Syria, and Harrison
Ford journeys into the Borneo rainforest, where mega-corporations and corruption
are turning massive forest reserves of carbon, and the wildlife it supports,
into smoke and greenhouse gas.