Meeting James Cameron– part two

The chairperson for the evening began her introduction of ASNE’s coveted guest:


…He studied physics and English at California State University. Later, he discontinued his studies and worked several jobs such as machinist and truck driver and wrote when he had time. Mr. Cameron taught himself special effects…. After seeing the film Star Wars in 1977, Cameron quit his job as a truck driver to enter the film industry.[4] When Cameron read the book Screenplay, it occurred to him that integrating science and art were possible and he wrote a ten minute science fiction script with two friends, entitled Xenogenesis. They raised money and rented a camera, lenses, the film stocks, and studio and shot it in 35mm. To understand how to operate the camera, they dismantled it and spent the first half-day of the shoot trying to figure out how to get it running. [1]


How admirable, I thought—and a genius too! After the chairperson enumerated his successful movies: The Terminator and Terminator 2, Rambo, Abyss, Alien, True Lies,  she emphasized his most grandiose accomplishment, Titanic.


“He wrote and directed the film Titanic, which earned 11 Academy Awards and grossed over $1.8 billion worldwide. To date, his directorial efforts have grossed approximately $3 billion.”


And now he is striving for a repeat performance with the upcoming Bismarck. As with Titanic, Cameron will rely only partially on his consultants for information. He has already explored the wreck at 15,000 feet below the water surface in a submersible and brought back priceless data of the World War II battleship sunk by British forces. Moreover, on the 2002 expedition he brought along two survivors of the German battleship who survived the carnage, but wanted to make peace with the tragedy.


The audience sat mesmerized while viewing a 40-minute video of Cameron’s photographic examination of the Bismarck. He discussed the results of his extensive survey which resulted in scientific conclusions about the battle between the British and the Germans, the damage which sank the German battleship, the damaging drop on a mountainous seafloor, and the condition of the current wreck. In his signature Cameron style, he emphasized the relationship between humanity and technology. As we viewed the last clips of this rare footage, Cameron explained:


“Although I have a fascination with geeky technology and exploration, I’m showing you the boots, the leather bags, and personal articles so that we never forget what this disaster is about: the human tragedy…I have an 18-year-old son who is older than some of the young men who perished…this tragedy brings the message close to home…”


The fluid, engaging speaker explained that he obtained some of the film footage with his trusted robotic camera (ROV), fondly named Elwood, and that he has personally logged 3,000 hours as a shipwreck diver. It is no wonder that he has made outstanding contributions to marine science and maritime archeology as part of his film making. As he finished his talk, the audience swiftly stood up to applaud his work and brilliant documentation.


The presentation was followed by a question and answer segment. Cameron answered each question thoroughly, as if each one mattered. Bill Garzke, his right-hand man on the Bismarck research, joined him on stage to answer questions about Titanic and Bismarck survivors. Bill has spent decades interviewing Bismarck survivors and analyzing the testimony of Titanic survivors; he believes that by using eyewitness accounts in conjunction with scientific findings, the public will have a better understanding of shipwreck events.

(To be continued)


[1] Details from Wikipedia.

Posted in Andrea Doria, Serving our Seas, Survivor Stories | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *