September 16, 2022

The Big Blue

Being in the World: People and the Planet in French and Francophone Cinema
Low Library Plaza, Columbia Morningside campus, 116th Street entrance
Free and open to all. RSVP required.
The Big Blue (Le Grand Bleu) by Luc Besson, (1988). 168 min. Fiction, inspired by a true story.

Director Luc Besson is famous for his imaginative visual technique and breathtaking action sequences. The Big Blue features gorgeous underwater photography and spectacular location shooting in the French Antibes, the Greek islands, Peru, and Taormina in Sicily. But it is the emotional intensity of the film experience and mystical themes of the story that made it into a cult phenomenon and one of France’s most commercially successful films.The movie is a heavily fictionalized and dramatized story of the friendship and rivalry between two champion free divers, Jacques Mayol (played by Jean-Marc Barr) and Enzo Maiorca (played by Jean Reno), and Mayol’s relationship with his American girlfriend Johanna Baker (Rosanna Arquette). Mayol was a screenwriter for the film, and his search for love, family, “wholeness” and the meaning of life and death, and the tension between his yearning for the big blue and his relationship with his girlfriend, also form part of the movie’s backdrop.

Luc Besson is a French film director, screenwriter, and producer. As writer, director, or producer, Besson has so far been involved in the creation of more than 50 films. When Besson met the great free diver Jacques Mayol, this son of a diving instructor decided to plunge into Le Grand Bleu (The Big Blue), an ambitious project. The Big Blue dropped anchor at Cannes in 1988. Spectators were immediately swept off into a vertiginous underwater adventure magnified by the music of Éric Serra. The film was a unanimous success with spectators, much more so than expected. In France, 9 million viewers rushed to the cinema to see it, making the film a phenomenon that led the press to speak of a “génération Grand Bleu.”

To watch trailer please click here

Produced and presented by Columbia Maison Française

With additional support provided by Cultural Services of the French Embassy, Columbia Climate School, Knapp Family Foundation, Paul LeClerc Centennial Fund, Columbia University Institute for Ideas and Imagination, Columbia Global Centers | Paris, Society of Fellows and Heyman Center for the Humanities, Alliance Program, and European Institute.

Curated by Shanny Peer, Fanny Guex and Clara Wilhelm

Screenings will be introduced or followed by panel discussions with invited scholars and, in some cases, the film directors. All films are subtitled in English.


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