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A Response Rising Out of ‘The Abyss’

Regarding Sheila Benson’s “There’s Truth in the Fine Details” (Aug. 20), I am appalled by her own lack of common sense in slamming “The Abyss.” As director James Cameron’s research assistant, let me clear up a few things.

--The ring in the door, which Benson assumes is gold, even though it’s clearly made of white metal, is in fact made of titanium, which can withstand the pressure of several tons per square inch. This is made clear in both Jim’s script and in Orson Scott Card’s excellent novel of the film.

--As for the “breathing liquid for nine months” line, Benson should realize that although the fetus gets its oxygen from the mother’s bloodstream until birth, it is completely immersed and living in amniotic fluid, which is the point of Monk’s line in the film. In reassuring Bud that living in a liquid environment is not a new experience, he is playing with the facts in order to get across the concept. Even sticklers for detail like Jim Cameron and myself are willing to sacrifice a small amount of accuracy for dramatic clarity , which is a factor that many critics and researchers, including myself, sometimes forget.

--The point of the rat-drowning scene was to see the rat survive , so rest assured that we didn’t spend the time and effort consulting with various experts and the $400 a gallon for real liquid fluorocarbon just to kill the poor thing. Under the guidance of fluid breathing experts from Duke University, we did the scene for real . . . and the rat survived the scene, for real.

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As for technical jargon, submersibles, High Pressure Nervous Syndrome and hyperbaric drilling platforms, we researched them all extensively; neither Jim nor I is satisfied with (to paraphrase Benson) faking out 92% of the audience.

VAN LING

Creative/technical/research assistant to James Cameron

Beverly Hills


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