A hit in Europe but a flop in the US--where it was trimmed, rescored, and given a new ending--Luc Besson's The Big Blue
has endured as a minor cult classic for its gorgeous photography (both on land and underwater) and dreamy ambiance. Jean-Marc Barr is a sweet and sensitive but passive presence as Jacques, a diver with a unique connection to the sea. He has the astounding ability to slow his heartbeat and his circulation on deep dives, "a phenomenon that's only been observed in whales and dolphins until now," remarks one scientist. Kooky New York insurance adjuster Joanna (Rosanna Arquette at her most delightfully flustered and endearingly sexy best) melts after falling into his innocent baby blues, and she follows him to Italy, where he's continuing a lifelong competition with boyhood rival Enzo (Jean Reno in a performance both comic and touching).
Besson's first English-language production looks more European than Hollywood, and it suffers from a tin ear for the language. At times it feels more like an IMAX undersea documentary than a drama about free divers, but the lush and lovely images create a fairy tale dimension to Jacques's story, a veritable Little Merman. More dolphin than man, he's so torn between earthly love and aquatic paradise that even his dreams call him to the sea (in a sequence more eloquent than any speech).
Besson has expanded the film by 50 minutes for his director's cut, which adds little story but slows the contemplative pace until it practically floats in time, and has restored Eric Serra's synthesizer-heavy score, a slice of 1980s pop that at times borders on disco kitsch. 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. --Sean Axmaker, Amazon.com
United Kingdom released, Blu-Ray/Region B DVD: LANGUAGES: English ( Dolby Digital 2.0 ), English ( Dolby DTS-HD Master Audio ), French ( Dolby Digital 2.0 ), French ( Dolby Linear PCM ), English ( Subtitles ), WIDESCREEN (2.35:1), SPECIAL FEATURES: Interactive Menu, Making Of, Scene Access, Trailer(s), Uncut, SYNOPSIS: 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 a security office, has to go to Peru. There she meets Jacques who works for 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's than a human's. 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 notices a championship for divers that is supposed to take place in Taormina, Italy. In order to see Jacques again she makes up a story so the firm sends her to Italy for business purposes. In Taormina there is also Enzo, the reigning diving world champion. He knows that only Jacques can challenge and probably beat him. This time Johanna and Jacques get closer, but Jacques, being more a dolphin than a man, can not really commit and his rivalry with Enzo pushes both men into dangerous territory... ...The Big Blue (1988) ( Le grand bleu ) (Blu-Ray)