Taglines: The sea has a secret.
Enzo and Jacques have known each other for a long time. Their friendship started in their childhood days in the Mediterranean. They were not real friends in these days, but there was something they both loved and used to do the whole day long: diving. One day Jacques’ father, who was a diver too, died in the Mediterranean sea. After that incident Enzo and Jacques lost contact.
After several years, Enzo and Jacques had grown up, Johanna, a young clerk in an insurance office, has to go to Peru. There she meets Jacques who is being studied by a group of scientists. He dives for some minutes into ice-cold water and the scientists monitor his physical state that is more like a dolphin than human. Johanna can not believe what she sees and gets very interested in Jacques but she’s unable to get acquainted with him. Some weeks later back in her office, she finds out that Jacques will be competing in a diving championship that takes place in Taormina, Sicily.
The Big Blue (released in some countries under the French title Le Grand Bleu) is a 1988 English-language film in the French Cinéma du look visual style, made by French director Luc Besson. The film is a heavily fictionalized and dramatized story of the friendship and sporting rivalry between two leading contemporary champion free divers in the 20th century: Jacques Mayol (played by Jean-Marc Barr) and Enzo Maiorca (renamed to “Enzo Molinari” and played by Jean Reno), and Mayol’s fictionalized relationship with his girlfriend Johana Baker (played by Rosanna Arquette).
The film, which covers their childhood in 1960s Greece to their deaths in a 1980s Sicilian diving competition, is a cult-classic in the diving fraternity, and became one of France’s most commercially successful films (although an adaptation for US release was a commercial failure in that country). President of France, Jacques Chirac, referred to the film in describing Mayol, after his death in 2001, as having been an enduring symbol for the “Big Blue” generation.
The story was heavily adapted for cinema — in real life Mayol lived from 1927 to 2001 and Maiorca retired from diving to politics in the 1980s. Both set no-limits category deep diving records below 100 metres, and Mayol was indeed involved in scientific research into human aquatic potential, but neither reached 400 feet (122 metres) as portrayed in the film, and they were not direct competitors. Mayol himself was a screenwriter for the film, and Mayol’s search for love, family, “wholeness” and the meaning of life and death, and the conflict and tension between his yearning for the deep, and his relationship with his girlfriend, also form part of the backdrop for the latter part of the film.
The Big Blue – Le Grand Bleu (1988)
Directed by: Luc Besson
Starring: Jean-Marc Barr, Jean Reno, Rosanna Arquette, Paul Shenar, Sergio Castellitto, Jean Bouise, Kimberly Beck, Valentina Vargas, Alessandra Vazzoler
Screenplay by: Luc Besson
Production Design by: Dan Weil
Cinematography by: Carlo Varini
Film Editing by: Olivier Mauffroy
Costume Design by: Blandine Boyer, Magali Guidasci, Malika Khelfa, Mimi Lempicka, Brigitte Nierhaus, Martine Rapin, Patricia Saalburg
Set Decoration by: Patrick Barthelemy
Music by: Bill Conti, Eric Serra
MPAA RATİNG: R for sexuality and language.
Distributed by: Gaumont (France), Columbia Pictures (International)
Release Date: August 22, 1988