GHOSTS OF THE ABYSS Add To My Top 10

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Release Date: April 11, 2003

Starring:

Genre: Documentary/Undersea
Exploration

Audience: All ages REVIEWER: Dr. Ted
Baehr GHOSTS OF THE ABYSS is a
captivating documentary, in
3-D of all things. Director
James Cameron of TITANIC fame,
which got less than stellar
reviews from MOVIEGUIDE®, has
created a documentary of the
exploration of the actual
ship, 12,500 feet deep at the
bottom of the Atlantic Ocean.
This documentary was much more
compelling than another
Academy Award winning movie
screened the same day. In
producing this movie, Cameron
had a lot going against him,
including the lack of a
script, a dedication to
factual accuracy, and his
decision to make his movie in
3-D. Although the 3-D is much
better than the previous
attempts, it still has those
blurry moments when you're
trying to adjust the
ill-fitting glasses properly.
Cameron overcomes many
obstacles by bringing along
Bill Paxton, who looks at the
world as an adolescent would.
He is perfectly cast as the
Everyman accompanying these
sophisticated scientists. On
the way down to the Titanic,
he says, "Golly, we're
touching the legend." When he
sees it, he says, "My God! My
God!" He worries about the
little submarines under such
pressure and even gets
seasick, though the camera
cuts away as he opens up a
paper bag. He makes stupid
comments, like comparing the
submarine ride to astral
projection, and profound
comments. For example, when
talking about how people on
the ship reacted to the
crisis, he says, "It's almost
as if God said, 'You have two
and a half hours to act out
your life.'" Since they were
filming on Sept. 11, 2001, the
poignancy of the sinking of
the Titannic comes home to
them in an incredible way. The
question that Mr. Paxton
raises, and everyone
discusses, is what would you
do? One of the Titanic's
officers, Murdoch,
single-handedly saved
two-thirds of the survivors
through his courage and
self-sacrifice. The ship's
band kept people at peace,
knowing that they were about
to sink into the abyss.
Others, however, were not as
courageous. There are the men
who posed as women to get on
the lifeboats, and the
corporate representative who
had talked the company into
limiting the number of
lifeboats and who took a
precious seat in a lifeboat
and survived. The scientists
have a spirited discussion
about what they would have
done. One of them takes the
position that you should just
look out for yourself. The
others represent other views.
But, the movie concludes that
self-sacrifice is required of
everyone under those
circumstances. Thus, the movie
emphasizes a moral, heroic
point of view, which is
clearly James Cameron's point
of view. Of course, there are
harrowing situations in the
movie. One of the batteries
goes out on their remote
camera unit. Bill Paxton asks
what happens when a battery on
the mini submarine goes dead.
His mini sub mate replies that
they could jettison it, but it
would be a hard decision
because the batteries cost
$250,000 each. Paxton asks if
he can write him a check. Of
course, if they do jettison
the battery, the question
arises if they would survive
the quick trip to the
surface? The camerawork and
editing make this an
extraordinary movie. Once in a
while, a documentary comes
along of this caliber. It has
some minor flaws, but it is
the type of movie many viewers
will want to see again and
again. MOVIEGUIDE® commends
everyone involved in this
project. Please address your
comments to: Michael Eisner,
Chairman/CEO Buena Vista
Distribution Co. (Walt Disney
Pictures, Caravan, Hollywood,
Miramax, & Touchstone
Pictures) Dick Cook,
Chairman Walt Disney
Pictures 500 South Buena Vista
Street Burbank, CA
91521 Phone: (818)
560-1000 Website:
www.disney.com

Rating: G

Runtime:

Address Comments To:

Content:

(BB, Pa, H, L, V, N) Moral worldview with several other viewpoints represented by different crewmembers, including brief New Age and humanist views; one obscenity and seven exclamatory profanities; threats of violence and discussion of violence; no sex; men in swimming trunks; and, nothing else objectionable.

GENRE: Documentary/Undersea Exploration

BB

Pa

H

L

V

N

Summary:

GHOSTS OF THE ABYSS is a captivating documentary in 3-D of an exploration of the sunken ship Titanic, 12,500 feet deep at the bottom of the ocean. It has some minor flaws, but it is the type of movie many viewers will want to see again and again.

Review:

GHOSTS OF THE ABYSS is a captivating documentary, in 3-D of all things. Director James Cameron of TITANIC fame, which got less than stellar reviews from MOVIEGUIDE®, has created a documentary of the exploration of the actual ship, 12,500 feet deep at the bottom of the Atlantic Ocean. This documentary was much more compelling than another Academy Award winning movie screened the same day.

In producing this movie, Cameron had a lot going against him, including the lack of a script, a dedication to factual accuracy, and his decision to make his movie in 3-D. Although the 3-D is much better than the previous attempts, it still has those blurry moments when you're trying to adjust the ill-fitting glasses properly.

Cameron overcomes many obstacles by bringing along Bill Paxton, who looks at the world as an adolescent would. He is perfectly cast as the Everyman accompanying these sophisticated scientists. On the way down to the Titanic, he says, "Golly, we're touching the legend." When he sees it, he says, "My God! My God!" He worries about the little submarines under such pressure and even gets seasick, though the camera cuts away as he opens up a paper bag. He makes stupid comments, like comparing the submarine ride to astral projection, and profound comments. For example, when talking about how people on the ship reacted to the crisis, he says, "It's almost as if God said, 'You have two and a half hours to act out your life.'"

Since they were filming on Sept. 11, 2001, the poignancy of the sinking of the Titannic comes home to them in an incredible way. The question that Mr. Paxton raises, and everyone discusses, is what would you do? One of the Titanic's officers, Murdoch, single-handedly saved two-thirds of the survivors through his courage and self-sacrifice. The ship's band kept people at peace, knowing that they were about to sink into the abyss. Others, however, were not as courageous. There are the men who posed as women to get on the lifeboats, and the corporate representative who had talked the company into limiting the number of lifeboats and who took a precious seat in a lifeboat and survived.

The scientists have a spirited discussion about what they would have done. One of them takes the position that you should just look out for yourself. The others represent other views. But, the movie concludes that self-sacrifice is required of everyone under those circumstances. Thus, the movie emphasizes a moral, heroic point of view, which is clearly James Cameron's point of view.

Of course, there are harrowing situations in the movie. One of the batteries goes out on their remote camera unit. Bill Paxton asks what happens when a battery on the mini submarine goes dead. His mini sub mate replies that they could jettison it, but it would be a hard decision because the batteries cost $250,000 each. Paxton asks if he can write him a check. Of course, if they do jettison the battery, the question arises if they would survive the quick trip to the surface?

The camerawork and editing make this an extraordinary movie. Once in a while, a documentary comes along of this caliber. It has some minor flaws, but it is the type of movie many viewers will want to see again and again. MOVIEGUIDE® commends everyone involved in this project.

Please address your comments to:

Michael Eisner, Chairman/CEO

Buena Vista Distribution Co.

(Walt Disney Pictures, Caravan, Hollywood, Miramax, & Touchstone Pictures)

Dick Cook, Chairman

Walt Disney Pictures

500 South Buena Vista Street

Burbank, CA 91521

Phone: (818) 560-1000

Website: www.disney.com

In Brief: