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THE CAVE

Art Imitating Life
THE CAVE may appear to be simply the product of a writer's imagination, but new micro-ecologies have actually been discovered evolving in deep caves, especially in Romania. One of the most famous is the Movila Caves discovery. Acclaimed speleologist and Romanian editor of National Geographic magazine, Dr. Christi Lascu, served as a consultant on THE CAVE and was present at the Movila discovery. He says: "The Movila Caves do bear a resemblance to the story of THE CAVE. It was towards the end of the 1980s when the government wanted to build a huge power plant near Black Sea. My mission was to inspect the soil to see if this land could support such a heavy building. In one of the caves there was sulphuric thermal water full of unusual invertebrate animals.”

"There were probably hundreds of new creatures there, and 35 of them were noted by scientists as brand new species,” he continues. "These creatures only lived in this cave. They are, in a way, living fossils because they have survived millions of years. During the Ice Age these animals became underground refugees, using the thermal water there to survive. An esteemed colleague of mine used the cave discovery for his PhD thesis. He said that if a nuclear war destroyed the planet and all the life of the surface disappeared, that the ecosystem in the Movila Caves would survive because it doesn't depend on solar energy or food from the surface.”

The Movila discovery was a very big discovery because it was the first underground ecosystem based on chemosynthesis in the world. Among the creatures discovered was a centipede that measured 10cm, and had a poisonous bite. There has also been discovery of amphibian animals in Yugoslavia over 20cm long. No discovery was made of a monster the magnitude of our creature in THE CAVE - but who knows? In theory, there is not a limit for the size of animals living down there. There are already large creatures in caves supported by chemosynthesis, so why not?

Andrew Mason explains that although the movie is fiction, the creative team went to great lengths to keep the movie as technically plausible as possible: "We hired some of the greatest cave divers in the world as consultants. We tapped into their experience and put into the script a number of incidents and flavors that relate to things that really happened with people who are diving underground.”

"A cave is an incredibly threatening environment,” he adds. "Apparently one diver in 14 dies each year! So you've got that level of danger just in the physical process of moving through the environment. In fact there has been a recent incident in Mexico where a bunch of British cave divers were trapped in caves.”

Diving consultant to THE CAVE and exploration legend, Jill Heinerth, has her own tales to tell: "I was trapped inside an iceberg once while diving in Antarctica. A piece of the iceberg basically closed up the opening where we'd gone in. And then on a subsequent dive my team and I were held back by the current, unable to escape the iceberg. So we've had some harrowing experiences. The underwater DP for this film, Wes Skiles, was once trapped with 13 people inside a cave in Australia and had to dig his way to safety over a period of days. So they are scary places!”

Richard Wright adds: "We worked incredibly hard on this script. It's a deceptively complicated story, and we had to respect the basic underlying science. We were dealing with completely closed ecosystems, chemosynthetic life forms and the physics and safety procedures of cave diving. There's a lot of technical and scientific information that's woven into this script that you don't necessarily realize, but we hope that all the experts and enthusiasts will watch the film and - allowing of course for a certain dramatic license – will think ‘Wow, they really did their homework'.”

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