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The Big Blue: Director's Cut

review by David G.


Running Time: 168 Minutes

Starring Jean-Marc Barr, Jean Reno, Rosanna Arquette, Marc Duret, Jean Bouise

Studio: Columbia/Tri-Star (Sony)

Screenplay by Luc Besson and Robert Garland from an Original Story by Luc Besson

Directed by Luc Besson


Retail Price: $29.99

Features: Theatrical Trailers, Talent Files, Production Notes, Photo Gallery, Isolated Music Score

Specs: 2.35:1 Anamorphic Widescreen, 5.1 Dolby Digital English, 5.1 Dolby Digital French, English Captions, French Captions, Spanish Captions, Chapter Search

Jacques Mayol, the Frenchman (Jean-Marc Barr) and Enzo Molinari (Jean Reno) have spent their childhood together in Greece living their passion of the ocean. Jacques is shy while Enzo is an extrovert and pretentious. One day, Jacques is the witness of his father's death while picking up oysters in the sea. We then find our two friends about twenty years later, Enzo is the world champion of free diving living in Sicily while Jacques works as a research subject around the world. But Enzo has only one idea in his head: compete with Jacques for the trophy. The insurance investigator Johanna meets Jacques in her travels and immediately falls in love with him. She is attracted by his innocence but she will never manage to really understand him. Both men's passion and the sea will be the center of this drama.

Luc Besson (The Professional, The Fifth Element), was his second movie and is his most popular film. The story of two men so obsessed by the sea that they would die for her (because the sea is a character by itself in this movie), no matter the consequences and their closes relations. It is not easy to understand why this movie hit the heart of so many people around the world (mostly in France). This has been a cult movie. It's a slow paced film (particularly the director's cut which adds 49 minutes of footage, which isn't really nessescary), and the story is maybe a little impenetrable. But this film is considered a generation's movie, perhaps that in 1988 people needed that kind of movie, no matter the screenplay. They needed to be immerged in the blue, in something more beautiful than the real world and believed to understand Jacques's motivations.

Personally, I don't think that "The Big Blue" is a masterpiece, it is just a good film with flaws and good points. The underwater photography is beautiful (although that the DVD does not pay homage to it) and the Eric Serra's music fits well the movie. The movie suffers too from Luc Besson itself, thus, as the director takes himself for James Cameron, he reedited his movie for a very arguable director's cut and since, he became one of the most pretentious French director I've ever seen. Except "La Femme Nikita" (just "Nikita" in France) and maybe "The Professional", all his movies are puffy, wobbly: "The Fifth Element" is a good example. But let's come back to "The Big Blue". it has not the pretension of "The Messenger" but its naïveté may irritate some. Every director is not Steven Spielberg!

The movie is presented in a widescreen anamorphic 2:35:1 format. The picture may be fuzzy, and some scratches and dust are often seen. For a movie based on the picture's beauty, it's hard to believe that Columbia/Tristar gives us such a poor master.

A few soundtracks are included: English 5.1, French 5.1 (not mentioned on the box) and English Dolby Surround and French Dolby Surround. There is also English, Spanish and French subtitles. Here is the good point of the audio: the music of Eric Serra is presented beautifully and really deserved this. I am French, so I appreciate the 5.1 French track which was even absent in the Region 2 DVD.

The extras aren't so good. The DVD features Talent Files, Production Notes, A Photo Gallery (it has three phots!), Trailers (don't miss the Big Blue trailer, it is absolutely ridiculous) and, finally, the Isolated Music Score (good idea).

I'm not a fan of Luc Besson (I only really like Nikita) but I have to admit that he managed to create a movie with a mood despite its languor. The movie deserves a better DVD. On a side note, I had some troubles with selecting the items with my SD 2109 Toshiba DVD player.

(2.5/5, NOT included in final score)




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