James Cameron has this second life as a documentary filmmaker/adventurer. He likes to travel the world and do exciting stuff and learn things, like what kind of gross fish live at the bottom of the ocean. But he’s also weirdly credulous. You may remember Cameron’s last game changer, when he claimed to have found the coffin of none other than Mr. Jesus H. Christ himself. That didn’t quite pan out as expected, did it?
Now Cameron is back in cahoots with the guy who wrote the book about Jesus’ coffin, The Jesus Family Tomb (this sounds like a Chico and the Man-esque sitcom), for The Last Train from Hiroshima. Cameron gave a blurb to the book, written by his pal Charles Pellegrino, and even optioned it for a movie. Now it turns out the book is full of shit.
How full of shit? The publisher is halting publication (there are a few thousand copies out there. Collector’s item!). And the book turns out to be really fake:
The publisher was unable to determine the existence of a Father Mattias (the first name is not given) who supposedly lived in Hiroshima at the time of the bombing, and John MacQuitty, identified as a Jesuit scholar presiding over Mattias’ funeral.
“I read a number of books on this period of time and none of them mentioned Mattias or MacQuitty. I knew there was no way those people could have been omitted if they were real,” said history professor Barton Bernstein of Stanford University.
Ouch! There’s more! Pellegrino claims to be the holder of a PhD from Victoria University in Wellington, New Zealand… but the school had no record of it! The guy’s an extreme bullshit artist, it turns out.
The upside of all this is that Cameron will not be making a CGI mocapped Hiroshima movie anytime soon. I find his longtime association with Pellegrino – Cameron wrote the intro for Pellegrino’s 2000 book Ghosts of the Titanic, and Pellegrino got paid as a consultant on Avatar! – fascinating and am intrigued by what it says about Cameron. When the real book about Cameron gets written – not the ass-licking The Futurist – I’m looking forward to an examination of how Cameron’s oddly naive historical side informs his filmmaking.