I can’t really imagine many modern blockbuster filmmakers who would be a match for James Cameron just on a comparison of filmmaking skills, but I can think of even fewer who could stand up against him when it comes to real-world fortitude.
Sure, it’s easy to be an adventurer when you’re rich, but only in the sense that you actually have the resources to make your wildest dreams come true. Money doesn’t make it any easier to face the fear that comes with doing something truly dangerous, and anyone who writes off what Cameron accomplishes when he’s in world adventurer mode is not being honest about what it is that he does.
For example, this past week, Cameron broke a world record for depth diving in a submersible that he helped develop, and it sounds like it was amazing. I’m even more excited to see what happens when he travels to the Challenger Deep in the western Pacific, and what sort of footage he brings back from it.
The thing that’s really impressive and inspirational to me about what Cameron does with his time and money is that we’ve heard George Lucas talk for decades now about wanting to get back to making experimental films, but Cameron doesn’t talk about it. He just goes out and does it, and then he brings all of these experiences and impressions back to his art. He’s said before that the “Avatar” sequels will explore the ecosystem underwater on Pandora, and that he’s looking to bring our own real world into that in terms of design. When he heads seven miles underwater, he’s going to a real alien planet, and he’s going to lay eyes on things that no one else has ever seen in person, if at all.
That’s exactly the sort of person I want to see writing and directing action films and science fiction. I know that there is real peril involved in these endeavors. Several members of Cameron’s team died last month in a helicopter crash, and he’s lost other people in submersibles before. Cameron isn’t dabbling here. Life and death in on the line when he’s in the middle of a dive, and that’s got to be the sort of thing that keeps you focused. There are real-world results of the research he’s doing, and I salute people who explore, who commit to science and technology and making our world bigger and better and richer in terms of knowledge.
As much as I love Cameron as a filmmaker, I respect him as an explorer, and this week’s feat is just one more reminder that he’s not like anyone else making films today.
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