The Life Aquatic with James Cameron

The Life Aquatic with James Cameron

Filmmaker heads for the Mariana Trench

No, everyone's favorite cinematic big spender isn't remaking the beloved Wes Anderson film. But he is starting to think of himself as something of a Steve Zissou. 

Last Tuesday, James Cameron embarked on a mission to dive deeper than any other human being has ever done on their own. In a state-of-the-art submarine that he designed himself, he made it a record-breaking 5.1 miles straight down into the sea. His next move? To visit the Mariana Trench, the deepest point in the oceans of the world and one that has not been visited by human kind in more than 50 years. 

The last adventurers to make it to the Trench's Challenger Deep were only able to rest their two-person submarine at the bottom for a total of 20 minutes before conditions became dangerous. The craft stirred up so much silt upon landing that they couldn't get a clear view of their surroundings. Much about the Mariana Trench therefore remains a mystery to human science.

Cameron aims to change all that with his DEEPSEA CHALLENGER, which has just earned the title of the deepest-diving submersible in operation. The craft comes equipped with 3D, high-definition cameras and a whole LED lighting rig. At 12 metric tons, it's about 12 times lighter than the last sub to hit the Challenger Deep thanks to a newly invented foam that helps stabilize internal pressure without weighing the whole craft down. Cameron anticipates that the DEEPSEA CHALLENGER will allow him to spend a whopping six hours at the bottom of the trench, potentially recording plant and animal life never before seen by scientists. 

The Oscar-winning director may seem like an unlikely participant in the scientific community, but it seems Cameron is as excited about taking on real life adventures as he is fabricating them for the screen. He's been down on dozens of dives already, but none have held quite so much import for the study of marine biology as the upcoming DEEPSEA CHALLENGE project. 

So far, the question of life at the bottom of the sea remains a mystery. Robotic expeditions have failed to document any kind of animal life at the very deepest points of the ocean, but they've never had one of the world's most accomplished filmmakers in their midst. With a craft that's designed both to navigate stably the lowest point on the planet and to record high-quality footage of the area, we may see some things never before witnessed by human eyes. And given that Cameron's recording in 3D, I'm sure we can expect a full-fledged Real-D documentary of the whole mission.