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Big Blue (French Dub Version) [Blu-ray]
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Luc Besson's film about the dangers of obsession and rivalry. A lifelong rivalry between two deep sea divers (who dive without aqualungs) culminates in a series of free-diving competitions. Jacques Mayol (Jean-Marc Barr) can reach unprecedented depths without breathing apparatus, while Enzo (Jean Reno) is driven to dive by obsession. Rosanna Arquette falls for Jacques when she sees him diving in Peru, where she is working. But she is unable to get in contact with him and when he returns to Italy she hatches a plot to get work to transfer her there so that she can be close to him.
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 --This text refers to the DVD edition.See all Product description
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Well-worth watching, whether you're a die-hard Luc Besson fan or not. By the way, I think Amazon have mixed up the cast with the other Big Blue film from the same year (directed by Andrew Horn). David Brisbin wasn't in the Luc Besson film. I'll log an error report with them.
The disc includes both the original and director's cut versions of the film, with a choice of English (LPCM) and French (DTS 2.0) soundtracks for both. The uncompressed English track, while stereo only rather than surround, sounds superb - switching between it and the French track shows a noticeable improvement in quality on the PCM over the DTS version. The picture quality is excellent - The Big Blue finally gets the presentation it deserves, and the transfer to BD is pin-sharp and gorgeous to look at. On a quick flick through, the lipsync errors that plague the DVD versions of this film seem to have been fixed, which is excellent news. The only remaining niggle is that the picture is still from the French print - the captions for place names etc are still the French versions (Sicile as opposed to Sicily, for example) - but that hardly detracts from what has been turned from a disaster into a compulsory purchase for Besson fans.
Well done to Optimum for doing the decent thing - I never believed it would happen!
What we have here, is the corrected re-release, with the correct English language audio track, plus a whole host of extras, more of which in a minute. (You can, of course still watch the film in dubbed-French with English subtitles, if you really want to, but I wouldn't recommend it.) I won't repeat the film's plot, as you'll either know it anyway, or a better description can be found elsewhere, than me simply trying to condense it down into a paragraph or two. No, what you all want to know, is "Is this disc worth my money"?
Teh simple answer, is YES!
In fact, what we do have here, is a collection of some really odd and unusual stuff. Fans of the film will know that THE BIG BLUE exists in two versions: the original US theatrical cut, that runs to just shy of 2 hours, (but which has a score by Bill Conti replacing Eric Serra's ethereal one), and the longer Director's Cut (or Version Integrale edition), that adds-in another 40-or so minutes of extra footage.
The Optimum Blu-Ray contains two versions, but not the two you are expecting!
You get the Director's Cut/Version Integrale edition, as the main option, and if I'm honest, this is the better version. It's more coherent, it's more entertaining, and the characters have more on-screen time that viewers can savour. (Jean Reno's portrayal of Enzo, is still one of his best English-language performances!)
The option to watch the shorter, Theatrical Edition is also included, but you don't get the Theatrical Edition that many of you will know of. What you get instead, is a fascinating extended edition of the Theatrical Edition, that runs to just shy of 2hrs 17 minutes!
This 137-minute edition is the Original French Version, which is NOT the US Theatrical Cut that many fans expected, and which has circulated on TV and VHS for many, many years. Instead, this Original French Version includes material and scenes many had never seen up uptil the release of the Director's Cut in 2000. It's definitely better than the horrible US Theatrical Edition, but at the same time, once you've seen the Director's Cut, it's difficult to go back to a shorter cut of the film, and still enjoy it. It's not bad, by any means, but it's an interesting oddity. And at least this version includes Eric Serra's haunting music once more.
On top of this, Optimum have scored big, by including an old, 90-minute documentary that has - until this release - never been seen in the UK or USA, and was previously only available on the French 2-Disc DVD edition, without (understandably), any English subtitles, covering the film's making and production.
Whilst terribly dated, shot on video, and in 4:3, it does give audiences a lot of information about how the film came into being, about the characters and the links to real-life freedivers Jacques Mayol and Enzo Maiorca, upon whom the main characters in the film are based. There are plenty of explanations of how some of the spectacular free-diving footage was accomplished, and some of the occasionally daring and dangerous stunts that almost cost some of the cast and crew their lives! Whilst not up to modern-standards, either technically or in content, it's still a genuinely fascinating behind-the-scenes look at the film's production, and is worth at least one watch.
Considering everything together, this is a spectacular Blu-Ray release of a slice of 80's French cinema. This is the one that you can now safely purchase, and ditch all other editions of. (Though if you do have the 118-minute US version with the Bill Conti score, completists may like to hang onto that one, just for a bit longer.) An excellent release, that more than makes-up for the original Optimum screw-up.
it really is an amazing film, dreamy is the right word, one of bessons best together with nikita and leon (especially leon, great but not as unique). music and cinematography are oscar worthy, acting is sublime, photography breathtaking.. story maybe slightly frivolous but touching at same time. a drama with a few drops of comedy here and there, on a subject that was never touched before or after this film came out.
if u generally love the sea and never seen this film just go buy it, u will be enthralled..& if u are indifferent on the sea subject, but u think u can still appreciate a stunningly beautiful film then still go buy it. 6 stars ........
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Most recent customer reviews
Rosanna Arquette's wardrobe make you sick.Read more
I prefer the Original.Read more
Great movie highly recommended
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