The Big Blue

Maybe one of the best movies ever made? My favoritdirector, Luc Besson, and one of the best composer of moviemusic, Eric Serra, makes this movie something spectacular.
This cult classic har been famous for its gorgeous photography (both on land and underwater) and dreamy ambiance feeling mostly created by the fantastic music, so just float away and see it!
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The simple way of saying what this film is about, is to say that it is about the struggle between two free-divers. Both trying to beat the other's record, and while doing this they go deeper and deeper riscing their lives to be the best.
But the story is far from as simple as that. The film tells about Jacques Mayol's (Jean-Marc Barr) love for the sea. He still wants to live by, or even in, the sea, even though his father died in a diving accident when Jacques was young. He has known Enzo Mollinari (Jean Reno) since they both lived on the same island in Greece when they were young.
Enzo is now the world champion, but Jacques just as good as him. While they compete, Jacques' far from simple life is made even harder when he meets Johana (Rosanna Arquette). They fall in love, and then the problems start.
Jacques doesn't really know how to handle this, and he still wants to spend most of the time diving and having fun with dolphins. He thinks it's better "down there," meaning the deep also known as the big blue.
So without telling to much about the end, the question is if Jacques will kill himself by just staying down at bottom of the sea, or if he loves Johana enough to come back to the surface.

Movie facts:

  The Big Blue / Le Grand Bleu
  Released in 1988 by Gaumont 
  French version: 132 minutes long 
  European version: 118 minutes long 
  US Version: 119 minutes long 
  Long version: 168 minutes long 
Produced by: Patrice Ledoux/Gaumont                
Directed by: Luc Besson
Story written by Luc Besson                                   
Screenplay by: Luc Besson & Robert Garland
Music composed by: Eric Serra

Johanna Baker: Rosanna Arquette       
Jacques Mayol: Jean-Marc Barr             
Enzo Molinari: Jean Reno            
Doctor Lawrence: Paul Shenar      
Novelli: Sergio Castellito
Uncle Louis: Jean Bouise
Roberto: Marc Duret
Duffy: Griffin Dunne
About the different versions:
This film has actually been released in three incarnations. The 132-minute original french cut (you can only find this video in Europe) featured a marvelous score by Eric Sierra, but for some reason the film in america was cut down to 119 minutes and rescored by Bill Conti. Practically dumped by its distributor Fox in America, aside from the new score, whole scenes were lost, including many largely wordless passages seemed "too abstract" for American audiences. Perhaps most controversial was a "happier ending" tacked on to the film... A few years ago, there was also a long 168-minute Director's Cut first released in Europe and on Japanese laserdisc, recently now also available in US. The DVD-version released by Columbia Home Video in US is the director's cut (168 minutes) with some extra features: digitally Mastered Audio & Anamorphic video, Photo Gallery: International Ad Campaign, Isolated Music Score and 3 Theatrical Trailers. You can of course also buy The Big Blue (directors cut) on DVD in Europe.
Bessons director's cut adds little story but slows the contemplative pace until it practically floats in time, and he here has restored Eric Serra's synthesizer-heavy score. Most importantly, he has restored his original ending, which echoes the fairy tale he tells Joanna earlier in the film and leaves the story floating in the inky blackness of ambiguity.

Important places to the enthusiast:
This unique epic adventure/romance was filmed over eight months on locations from the Riviera to Sicily, Corsica, Greek, Paris, New York and The Virgin Islands.
Important places in the movie are Amorgos (beautiful Greek island), Taormina (romantic city in Sicily) and the mountains in Peru.

   Jean Reno      Luc Besson

Luc & Mayol  Mayol & Enzo

You can buy The Big Blue on video/DVD at Amazon, CDnow, Games and Videos.
Buy the soundtrack from iMusic.
Buy the poster from

Good links:
Home of Webring Le Grand Bleu Webring
Grand bleu, Le (1988) Internet Movie Database
Le Grand Bleu Good pictures and soundclip
Grand Blue shrine Some text and links to images
The Big Blue Interview with Mayol
Big Blue Script The script to the movie
Big Blue - Wikipedia

    Enzo Moliniari
    Jacques and Johanna

    The actor and the real Mayol

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Last update 2007-08-06

Copyright © 1999 Stefan Danielson