Before Avatar: The WaterwayJames Cameron went to explore the depths of the oceans, and madeAliens of the Deep a summary of his obsessions.
When we talk about James Cameron, we think above all of his disproportionate ambition as a filmmaker, his kamikaze budgets and the insane successes he has managed to draw from them each time. Abyss, Terminator 2, titanic, Avatar : the skewer of classics is quite mind-blowing, without even mentioning their way of having revolutionized the use of special, practical or digital effects.
But as the savory parody of South Park, James Cameron is above all a “pioneer” in the broad sense, who has always been passionate about the seabed, especially after having himself filmed the wreck of the Titanic at the bottom of the Atlantic for the needs of the film. And since the guy can’t help but « raise the bar » (literally, according to South Park), he became an explorer over time, until setting a depth record in 2012 aboard the Deepsea Challenger submarine.
Nevertheless, this heyday – which followed the release of the first Avatar – was not without precedent, and James Cameron rightly documented his first underwater expeditions in 2005 through a film: Aliens of the Deep.
« His name is Jaaaaaames Cameron, the greatest pioneer »
Under the oceanaaaaan
“I’m James Cameron and I might as well tell you, I love this job”. These are the first words of the filmmaker, pronounced via a voiceover, at the beginning ofAliens of the Deep. A profession of faith that almost acts as a warning, to make it clear to us that he is not just there to finance a whim that a “king of the world” of his kind would be entitled to do. As the camera follows a character through a control room to a meeting where the director sits, Cameron includes himself in the directing process, almost like center of gravity of the device.
The process may seem egotistical (and it would be dishonest to say it isn’t, at least a little bit), but on the other hand, Cameron is worth as much as a L’Oreal ad. However, his way of imposing himself in the narrative of the documentary is more clever than it seems: he positions himself as the viewer’s referent, both as a known face and as a dreamer.
« Have you seen my beautiful graphic? »
After all, his cinema has always been geared towards the need for total immersion, made possible by technologies capable of taking the public into ever more fantastical worlds. However, these worlds are fed by realityincluding in its gray areas, like those great depths whose treasures (and horrors) they contain have been imagined for centuries based on a few snippets of clues.