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Old 02-04-2011, 10:30 PM
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Default "Sanctum" - New Cave Diving Feature Film In Theaters

I just saw Sanctum in 3-D tonight. I knew very little about it and suspected with apprehension it was a sci fi take off "Journey to the Center of the Earth" or something. I was wrong, it is a feature length spelunking/cave diving movie?! It was even inspired by actual events that happened to Andrew Wight, Wes Skiles and over a dozen other divers in Australia on a cave dive in horrific conditions in 1988. Wight is a documentary film maker and one of the screen writers of Sanctum. The movie including special effects were shot in Australia.

The official trailer

The Washington Post had this to say:

"The 51-year-old ocean explorer had the perfect story: a life-or-death experience he endured while diving a remote cave system beneath the expansive Nullarbor Plain in Australia two decades ago. As a freak storm moved in, Wight and 14 others were trapped deep underneath. Miraculously, they found a way out.

That event became the inspiration for the new 3-D movie "Sanctum," which Wight produced and co-wrote and Cameron oversaw as executive producer. As visceral as the real-life sport of cave-diving, "Sanctum," which opened nationwide Friday, follows a team of divers who become trapped during an expedition deep into a cave system in Papua New Guinea.

In the Australian incident, all survived, but the film takes a vastly different dramatic turn as the body count mounts. "This stuff is not all made up. A lot of my contemporaries in the cave-diving community are now dead," Wight said from Gainesville, Fla., where he attended a benefit screening of the film last week, honoring renowned local diver Wes Skiles, a cinematographer who was found mysteriously dead underwater last summer off the Florida coast while on assignment.

Skiles was part of the original Nullarbor expedition and was set to shoot the underwater sequences of "Sanctum" before his death. The film is now dedicated to his memory."
Continued at:

I kept thinking of Wes during the film, the linkage whether intended or not is there in the dialog and setting. Your legacy lives on Wes. More about the Wes Skilles benefit showing of the movie in Gainsville, FL and the 1988 cave diving incident that inspired the movie at: and

Andrew Wight, James Cameron and Wes Skilles shooting imagery at Ginnie Springs to pitch the film concept to Universal Pictures in 2005.

Here is the plot summary:

"The 3-D action-thriller Sanctum follows a team of underwater cave divers on a treacherous expedition to the largest, most beautiful and least accessible cave system on Earth. When a tropical storm forces them deep into the caverns, they must fight raging water, deadly terrain and creeping panic as they search for an unknown escape route to the sea. Master diver Frank McGuire has explored the South Pacific's Esa-ala Caves for months. But when his exit is cut off in a flash flood, Frank's team-including 17-year-old son Josh and financier Carl Hurley are forced to radically alter plans. With dwindling supplies, the crew must navigate an underwater labyrinth to make it out. Soon, they are confronted with the unavoidable question: Can they survive, or will they be trapped forever? Written by Universal Pictures "

The cast includes: Richard Roxburgh, Rhys Wakefield, Ioan Gruffudd, Alice Parkinson, Dan Wyllie, Allison Cratchley, Christopher Baker, John Garvin, Sean Dennehy

Feature length diving movies are so very rare, that committed divers should probably see it just out of principle. They seem to have had some elaborate cave sound stages with the rendering giving the strong impression of karst on mega-steroids! It actually is fairly entertaining and even somewhat believable. There is some disturbing imagery in the movie of death making those parts unsuitable for children or sensitive folks in my view. At the same time, for those of us that have screwed up underwater, not terminally, some of the scenes may echo back to those times. It is rated R for language, some violence and disturbing images.

It was produced by James Cameron, the same guy that created "Avaitar" and "Titanic." It couldn't have been a easy task to sell such a project to the film industry and yet they did it. They do ladle on the drama and suspense but it sort of goes with the story line and they pull it off.

The sinkhole leading to the cave system in the movie looked something like the actual one in Guatamala shown above only with major rock exposures.

Official movie website -

The even have a Facebook page:

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transcribed by:
Rick Iossi

Last edited by RickI; 02-05-2011 at 09:29 AM.
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