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Cave dwellers!

We travel to the set in Romania to hear from director Bruce Hunt, who explains why darkness is his friend…

There is always a kind of magic in setting foot on a film set, but entering the set for The Cave in Romania’s MediaPro studios is truly like entering another world. The vast, hangar-sized studios – formerly used to make propaganda films in the country’s Communist past – have now been transformed into a breathtaking network of underground caves. The floor is wet, dotted with pools and grottos, and technicians are busily supervising an explosion in a submerged watertank that is standing in for an underground lake. Producer Andrew Mason, the lanky, good-natured Australian who is showing us around has not for a second lost his beaming smile of pride at the incredible work that is being done by the Romanian craftsmen.

The Cave concerns the discovery by a team of scientists of the ruins of a 13th century Abbey deep in the forests of Romania. The monastery is filled with frescoes and carvings which show a battle between crusading knights and hideous gargoyle-like creatures, like scenes from Hieronymous Bosch. On further inspection, the scientists make a startling discovery – that the Abbey is built over the entrance to a giant underground cave system. Biologists believe the cave could house an undiscovered ecosystem, so they hire a group of American cave-explorers to help them investigate. Jack (Cole Hauser) and his brother Tyler (Eddie Cibrian) are thrill-seeking professional cave explorers who run a team of the top divers in the world. They arrive in Romania with all the latest equipment, including a new type of scuba tank allowing a diver to remain submerged for up to 24 hours. The crack unit, which also includes Charlie (Piper Perabo), Buchanan (Morris Chestnut) and a Romanian scientist, Dr Nicolai (Marcel Iures) immediately begin their exploration, but the original seven-man team has disappeared. What Jack and his friends discover deep inside the cave is not just a new eco-system, but an entirely new species altogether, and one that was never meant to meet Man…

On set, the cast is dressed in wetsuits and cumbersome breathing equipment, are examining a curved object – something like a tooth or a claw but massively enlarged. The Australian director, Bruce Hunt, was a Second Unit photographer on The Matrix and filmed the complex cityscape model effects for Alex Proyas’ splendidly weird Gothic Fantasy Dark City. He seems to be in his element coordinating the action in this surreal, cathedral-like space.

“I think we’ve got a lot of advantages in that we’re not trying to create a Science Fiction world,” Hunt explains in a break from shooting. “We’ve got a very contemporary world, but it may as well be a Science Fiction world down there with some of these sets and the gear these guys carry. We have rapids, we have waterfalls, we have ice crevasses, avalanches – always there is danger from the physical environment.”

by David Miller

Get the full interview and set visit report in
Shivers #122

Image © Visual Imagination Ltd, The Cave © Columbia TriStar
Feature © Visual Imagination 2005. Not for reproduction

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Shivers #122
July / August 2005
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