What lies beneath
A team from Oman TV recently descended 130m into the Majlis al Jinn cave with the help of a rope for the first phase of shooting a documentary film that will help throw light on the development of the cave over time.
Research will now be conducted into the origin of new life forms and water sources in the cave, as well as the formation of tunnels, which the team said were not present earlier.
Oman TV chief director Mohammed al Kindi's passion for adventure filmmaking inspired the eight-member team to shoot in the ninth largest cave chamber (by floor area) in the world. “Having successfully reached the bottom of the cave with the help of ropes, I didn't ask God to keep me safe, but prayed instead that the team could deliver an enriching documentary, showing the world the contents and environment of the cave”, he said. It is not a big deal for cavers to make a trip to Majlis al Jinn, located in a remote area of the Salma Plateau 1,380m above sea level.
But to descend into the cave's single chamber, measuring about 310mx225m, with special shooting equipment, was a mammoth task for the filming team. Kindi said the cave had enough oxygen for breathing. “If we had made a mistake while descending and not had strong nerves, it could have been fatal. Body weight can cause ropes to swing and hit the rocky walls of the cave occasionally. It can be dangerous if you are hit on the head. We carried the equipment on our backs and had taken jibs and goPro cameras that are suitable for adventure filming.”
“We had to encounter bats and snakes while descending to the bottom of the cave. This was the first instance of adventure-filmmaking by Oman TV supported by the government of Oman.” Once the team landed in the cave, cameramen filmed the stalactites and stalagmites, as well as the life forms. “We got some interesting shots of rocky features and tunnels. There were bats too.
Unfortunately we couldn't make it to the crystal chamber, a large formation of rocks and sediment, due to some challenges. The team then headed to film the seventh sinkhole in Quriyat as part of the first phase of shooting, which cost approximately RO70,000.” Kindi and his team hope to garner good reviews for the film after screening at film festivals in the country and across the region. “Our shots will be accompanied by graphics. We hope the film is enlightening for caving aficionados and helps them learn about evolution and cave development.” “Without the support of Oman TV and governmental bodies, this film would have remained an unrealised dream,” concluded Kindi.