A person underwater in The Abyss


James Cameron’s The Abyss Had A Ridiculous Invention That Is 100% Real
Some aspects of James Cameron’s 1989 underwater thriller “The Abyss” are surprisingly real. The most notable aspect is the breathable liquid Ed Harris’ Bud Brigman uses when diving.
Liquid breathing is first introduced when US Navy SEAL Ensign Monk (Adam Nelson) gives a demonstration of how the fluid breathing system works by submerging a rat in it.
Van Ling, James Cameron’s research assistant, told the LA Times, “The point of the rat-drowning scene was to see the rat survive [...] and the rat survived the scene, for real.”
In 1962, Johannes Kylstra conducted studies utilizing oxygenated fluorocarbons with animals. After successful trials, he tested his findings on diver Frank Falejczyk.
Falejczyk got pneumonia, but breathing oxygenated liquid proved the concept’s validity. While sharing his experiences in a presentation around 1970, Falejczyk met Cameron.
Cameron was only about 16 years old, and the enlightening interaction inspired the aspiring filmmaker to pen a short story that eventually evolved into “The Abyss.”
In 1987, before making “The Abyss,” Cameron consulted with Kylstra, who gave him the rundown on everything relating to his research including the formula for the rat scene.
In “James Cameron: Interviews,” Cameron is quoted as saying, “Kylstra told me how to do it with the rat ... He told me what to get, how to heat the stuff, how to do the rat.”