Jun 28, 2024

Le Grand Bleu (1988)

The Big Blue (released in some countries under the French title Le Grand Bleu) is a 1988 drama film in the French CinΓ©ma du look visual style, made by French director Luc Besson. The film became one of France's most commercially successful films (although an adaptation for US release was a commercial failure in that country). French President Jacques Chirac referred to the film in describing Mayol, after his death in 2001, as an enduring symbol for the "Big Blue" generation.

The rivalry between Enzo and Jacques, two childhood friends and now world-renowned free divers, becomes a beautiful and perilous journey into oneself and the unknown.
Freddy's Movie Review

Blown Away by "The Big Blue"

I have to start by saying that I'm completely blown away by this movie and I can't get it out of my head! Our journey begins on a picturesque black-and-white Greek island, introducing us to young Jacques Mayol, played by Jean-Marc Barr, and Enzo Molinari, played by Jean Reno. The opening scenes are stunning and surprising, with young Jacques feeding a moray eel amidst a vibrant array of fish. Initially, I worried that I was watching an English-dubbed version, but thankfully, that wasn't the case. It's intriguing to see Jean Reno, a French actor, playing an Italian who speaks English, but his performance is so captivating that the language mix isn't an issue. Reno's portrayal of the larger-than-life, macho Enzo Maiorca had me smiling throughout the movie. His energetic character contrasts beautifully with Jean-Marc Barr's quiet and introspective Jacques. Rosanna Arquette, with her enchanting eyes, also delivers a heartfelt performance. It was delightful to see her again on screen after so long, prompting a mental "Oh, hi! Nice to see you again!"

A Journey of Depth and Emotion

I watched the Director's Cut, which, at times, felt unnecessarily long. The scenes on the oil platform started to drag for me, but they were saved by Enzo's antics with the Belgian guy in the diving pod, which had me laughing out loud (Watch the clip below). However, I started to feel tired and sleepy during the second strange sex scene, but the film was once again uplifted by Jean Bouise’s character (another of Luc Besson's recurring actors), who plays Jacques' uncle and brings additional humor to the story. Despite some slow parts, the extended character exploration is crucial for the emotional impact of the film’s ending. The ending is one of the most disturbingly beautiful scenes I've ever seen, hitting hard on the emotional feels. The story of the mermaid that Jacques tells mid-movie was also particularly moving, hinting at his way of coping with the pain of losing his father. The film also features adorable dolphin scenes that add to its charm, and you have to be impressed with the training that the actors must have done, especially Jean-Marc Barr, who swims with the dolphins. Carlo Varini’s cinematography is breathtaking, especially the unique underwater shots.

Real-Life Inspirations and Personal Reflections

"The Big Blue" is loosely based on the real-life friendship and rivalry between free divers Jacques Mayol and Enzo Maiorca. The film’s fascinating background includes Maiorca’s objections, which delayed its release in Italy until 2002. He felt the portrayal of Enzo Molinari was detrimental to his image. In real life, Mayol broke the 100-meter barrier in 1976, showcasing his incredible diving abilities. Tests showed that during this dive, his heart rate decreased from 60 to 27 beats per minute, an aspect of the mammalian diving reflex, more evident in whales, seals, and dolphins. Tragically, he committed suicide at the age of 74. Γ‰ric Serra’s music, while still not perfect, fits better in this film, reminiscent of Vangelis with a bit more bass. His work earns more credit this time, and I even stayed through the credits to listen to the final song. This movie took me very deep and made me contemplate life and death, the pursuit of dreams and passions, human limits, and the profound beauty of rivalry and camaraderie between friends.

πŸŽ₯ Cinematography (10/10):

Carlo Varini's stunning visuals, especially the unique underwater shots, are breathtaking and add immense beauty to the film.

πŸ“– Story (8/10):

While the story can drag at times, the deep character exploration and emotional journey make it compelling and memorable.

🎬 Direction (9/10):

Luc Besson's vision and execution create a visually stunning and emotionally resonant film.

πŸ‘₯ Characters (10/10):

The vibrant and contrasting characters, particularly Enzo’s larger-than-life persona, make the film engaging and relatable.

πŸ’₯ Visual Effects (10/10):

The underwater scenes and practical effects are well-executed. There's a really cool nightmare scene where water is falling through the roof, and that's really well done.

🎭 Acting (10/10):

The performances by Jean-Marc Barr, Jean Reno, and Rosanna Arquette are exceptional, bringing depth and nuance to their roles.

πŸ’¬ Dialogue (9/10):

The dialogue, filled with humor and emotion, enhances the characters and story.

🌍 Setting/Atmosphere (10/10):

The picturesque Greek island, the snowy mountains of Peru, the streets of Sicily, and the underwater scenes all create a mesmerizing and immersive atmosphere.

🎡 Music (6/10):

Γ‰ric Serra’s electronic-ish style, though not perfect for me, fits the film better and enhances the emotional depth.

πŸ˜„ Entertainment Value (8/10):

Despite some slow parts, the film’s humor, emotional depth, and beautiful visuals make it a highly entertaining and impactful experience.

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