In the 1980s, a white-haired North American brought the cinema-going world into a vast, fantastical dreamland, imbued with the sort of mythical creature that had terrorized and fascinated the human race for years but was never captured so engrossingly as through this now classic piece of film history. We're talking, of course, about John Lithgow and his unparalleled turn in Harry and the Hendersons.
When Lithgow bade farewell to his sasquatchian houseguest at the conclusion of the heartrending movie, we learned what it was like for a man to part with a piece of his soul — something, living or otherwise, that inspired him thoroughly, challenged him deeply, took him on journeys to new realms. And now, another fair-follicled Hollywood mainstay notable for otherworldly Reagan-era epics of critical stature has just learned this timeless pain: James Cameron has donated his super awesome, record-breaking submarine to science.
You'll recall, exactly one year prior to the announcement of Cameron's generous bequeathment, the director plunged deeper into the ocean than any man, woman, or non-gender-specific merperson before him in his Deepsea Challenger submersible. On Mar. 26 of 2012, Cameron piloted the craft — designed by himself and his team of well-read Australians — down to the Challenger Deep of the Mariana Trench, the deepest point on the planet Earth. The solo expedition won Cameron a world record, extended Twitter attention, and what one would assume to be a lifelong brotherhood with the brave little vessel that made the mission possible. But this cruel non-Pandora reality in which we live offers one harsh certainty: all things must come to an end.
And now, just as one Mr. Lithgow so graciously did to the Harry he loved dearly, Cameron is setting his friend free, releasing ol' D.C. to roam free through the fields of the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute — a nonprofit education facility devoted to the marine sciences, and, more interestingly, Richard Dreyfuss' place of work in Jaws — where it might continue to contribute to advancements in science and technology. A teary-eyed Cameron (we didn't see him, but we're assuming there were tears) even told The New York Times that his pal might well beckon to the call of the sea again someday. We're also assuming those were his exact words, and that he stared off into the horizon while smoking a corncob pipe immediately after.
Of course, even for a salty windjammer like Capt. Cam, a stinging heartbreak is sure to linger long past this separation of companions. But just as the Deepsea Challenger belongs to science, so does the man who built him. In the absence of his metallic consort, Cameron will be called to revisit the folds of his mind, tasked with creating new and exciting developments for our dear human race. He's already done the near impossible with his Challenger Deep mission — what next?
How about a race of robot warriors that can actually travel back in time... oh, wait, no, they'll just go stark crazy and try to wipe out mankind. Dammit, Terminator.
How about an intergalactic spaceship capable of reaching new planets to study other life forms? Actually, those life forms will probably just turn out to be bio-engineered weapons compelled to rip our heads off. Dammit, Aliens.
Okay, what if we make sure that we only go to alien planets with relatively nice aliens? And, as an added safety precaution, Cameron invents a machine to make us look exactly like those aliens, so we can just hang out alongside them and ride their dragon pets? ... No, no. People will just get all selfish and mine the peaceful planet for rare minerals. Dammit, Avatar.
Fine, Cameron. Just make another cool, giant boat. We know, we know, Titanic, but have you ever tried good cruiseline shrimp? Worth it.
Follow Michael Arbeiter on Twitter @MichaelArbeiter
[Photo Credit: Buena Vista/Courtesy Everett Collection]