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JAMES CAMERON_destroyer of worlds

January 9, 2010

I’ve come to the startling realization that if I were a big-time filmmaker with as many blank checks as I needed to do whatever the hell I wanted… I’d probably be a lot like James Cameron.  I don’t feel like writing a full review of Avatar so all I will say is this:  I liked it.  For the couple of hours I spent in the theater watching Cameron’s blue aliens run around and kick human ass I set aside my snobby, film school theories and criticisms, I put away my hard sci-fi fanboy standards and expectations, and I watched the movie like I use to watch movies when I was a kid… and, rather unsurprisingly, I enjoyed the movie much like I use to enjoy Cameron’s films.  So, if you haven’t seen the movie and your decision to see the film hinges on my opinion, go see the damn movie.

Anyway, like I said above, if I was a filmmaker with piles of studio money to do anything I want with, I’d probably be a lot like James Cameron.  Case in point: just this week, Cameron secured the rights to the soon-to-be released nonfiction book The Last Train From Hiroshima: The Survivors Look Back by Charles Pellegrino.  The book is the story of Tsutomu Yamaguchi who some of you may of seen the news recently as he just passed away.  And why would Cameron be interested in making a movie based on Tsutomu Yamaguchi?  Because Yamaguchi is the only man to have survived not one atomic explosion (Hiroshima) but two (Nagasaki.)  Yes.  You read that right.  This man survived BOTH atomic bombings.

It’s an insane but true story, one that I’ve been aware of for a few years now.  A resident of Nagasaki, Yamaguchi had been in Hiroshima on business for a few months.  On August 6th he was preparing to leave the city and return home… but that morning, the Enola Gay dropped her payload.  Just kilometers from the blast’s epicenter, Yamaguchi suffered extreme injuries (ruptured eardrums, temporary blindness, severe burns) but still managed to return home to Nagasaki the next day (the dude was tough.) On August 9th, he returned to work (the dude was seriously tough) and while explaining to his supervisor what had happened to him in Hiroshima just a few days earlier, guess what happened… the second bomb dropped.  Again just a few kilometers from the blast’s epicenter, Yamaguchi was miraculously unharmed (or additionally harmed) by the explosion.

Understandably, Yamaguchi went on to become quite the proponent of nuclear disarmament and, before he passed away, had met with Cameron to discuss the possibility of a film about nuclear weapons (a topic I find fascinating.)  Of their meeting, Yamaguchi stated: “I think it’s Cameron’s and Pellegrino’s (the author) destiny to make a film about nuclear weapons.”

How intriguing is that?  Now, as much as I loved Avatar, I hope Cameron doesn’t go all Titanic with it and spend the next decade of his life on the franchise (he’s already declared a sequel – actually a trilogy – is in the works.)  Instead, I want him to move on with his career and make this movie.  Now, there is speculation that Cameron bought the film rights with plans to make a documentary or, perhaps, hand off to another director (I vote for Alfonso Cuaron!) so we’ll just have to wait and see.

As more news trickles out on this, I’ll be sure to pass it along – and when the book comes out later this month there’s a good chance I’ll pick it up – expect a review!

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