Urban Cinefile  
 The World of Film in Australia - on the Internet Updated Tuesday September 15, 2020 


The deep-sea Mariana Trenches in the Pacific Ocean are the deepest points on the planet, shrouded in eternal darkness, and home to an ocean's worth of scientific mysteries waiting to be solved. As a boy, filmmaker James Cameron dreamed of a journey to the deepest part of the ocean. This film chronicles the dramatic fulfillment of that dream, a historic expedition which took Cameron on the first-ever solo dive to the deepest place on the planet, deeper than Everest is high. It offers an insight into the dedication and passion Cameron (as expedition leader, submersible co-designer and pilot) shared with the mission's international team to take on the seemingly impossible task- creating a sub, built in Sydney, that could withstand the crushing pressure almost 36,000 feet down. The risks were astounding.

Review by Andrew L. Urban:
James Cameron's personal passion for the undersea world - a passion since age 7 - is the relentless driver for this scientific expedition/ adventure/ nature movie, taking us to the unique environment of the Mariana Trench - but only after following the preparations and test dives, the mechanical failures and personal pressures of the planning.

And as the film shows, it's the journey not the destination itself - a featureless, dusty, moonlike surface - that captures our imagination and engages our senses. Of course, we do meet a few 'critters' as Cameron calls the fantastic floating life that defies description, but it's the human interest angles that make the film compelling; his own life-long passion, his family's acceptance of the risks taken, the accidental death (in a helicopter above ground, not below the sea) of two key collaborators, and the unswerving dedication, skill and enthusiasm of his team.

Immersive (pardon the pun) and worth the 3D glasses, Deepsea Challenge leaves just one mystery unsolved, which is frustrating: how were the (deep) underwater exterior shots of the Challenger taken? I can guess, but I'd prefer to know, to have been told or even better, shown.

For anyone even vaguely interested in our earth, the film is a window into literally unchartered waters. But on the way, in the context of the preparations and Cameron's mindset, we revisit Titanic (the real one) and the Bismark (real one) in their watery graves, with all the eerie wonder of the ocean's eternal embrace.

Email this article

Favourable: 1
Unfavourable: 0
Mixed: 0

(US, 2014)

CAST: Documentary featuring James Cameron, Frank Lotito, Lachlan Woods, Paul Henri

PRODUCER: Andrew Wight, John Popplewell

DIRECTOR: John Bruno, Andrew Wight and Ray Quint

SCRIPT: Andrew Wight, John Garvin

CINEMATOGRAPHER: Jules O'Loughlin, Ian 'Thistle' Thorburn

EDITOR: Jane Moran

MUSIC: Brett Aplin, Amy Bestow, Ricky Edwards


RUNNING TIME: 91 minutes



Urban Cinefile 1997 - 2020