There are some obvious highlights and I’ll get to Jacqueline Bisset’s wet t-shirt in a minute… but, viewed on a modern big screen TV the film looks superb, huge wide-angled shots of Bermuda blue sea and white sand mixed with some genuinely stunning underwater footage: 70’s cinematography of the highest order from Christopher Challis and director Peter Yates.
You feel placed into the centre of these beautiful vistas and the colours are vibrant and richly-textured creating a hyper-reality you know from your best holidays. But there’s also vulnerability from this sensorial over-loading and Yates does well in maintaining unease throughout the film. It’s not quite the fear of sudden shark attack but there are human monsters at work even if they do move in mysterious and unfathomable ways…
|Bermuda as far as the eye can see...|
|Bisset and Nolte go deep|
With John Barry’s sumptuous lines sound-tracking the dive you are truly lulled into a false sense of relaxation in spite of the fact you know something’s going to happen… And, shortly after uncovering a mysterious glass vial Gail reaches for another under part of the wreck with a wooden paddle and, with Jaws-like speed, is pulled by an unknown force towards the upturned hull. She struggles to escape, the paddle is on a strap wound tight on her wrist, but is slammed again and again onto the wood…
By the time she’s raised the alarm, by sending oxygen bubbles up to alert David, she breaks free and kicking his attentive arms away heads as quickly as she can for the surface to clamber exhausted onto their boat: there’s something down there but it’s soon forgotten – Gail is unnaturally resilient throughout the film – when they examine their small haul, the vial and something altogether more intriguing, an old Spanish medallion that would pre-date the ship they’d been investigating by over two hundred years.
Initial investigations back on land suggest the medallion’s possible origin whilst no one has a clue about the vial. Questioning does however bring a visit from a local crime lord, Henri Cloche (Louis Gossett, Jr.) – no one can keep a secret for long round these parts. The couple deny all knowledge but that doesn’t cut any ice with Cloche…
Treece and David dive to the wreckage where they uncover hundreds more of the vials as well as falling through the hull to an older wreck which contains more of the mysterious Spanish artefacts…
On their return they encounter some of Cloche’s men whom David engages on the beach lift at the same time as Gail is being terrorised by voodoo in another gratuitous and bloody way – chicken feet and random off-cuts of poultry… Cloche is going to a lot of effort to put them off or at least to get his way.
But Gail recovers quickly from her grisly humiliation and starts to draw connections between what they have found and the real treasure down below whilst Treece has now established that the Goliath is carrying a fortune in medicinal morphine worth millions on the open drug market. Cloche was obviously there well before and wants a piece of the action.
|Louis Gossett, Jr and Robert Shaw|
It’s a race against time especially as Treece’s weak-willed pal Adam Coffin (Eli Wallach) – a survivor of the Goliath – is still open to other offers…
Can they make the discovery before Cloche’s men lose patience and dive after them and is there anyway they can prevent the bad guys getting their hands on the drugs? The pace hots up for an explosive closing section…
Dusty verdict: The Deep has many fine qualities and is a good-looking ride or should I say dive. It feels a little lose and lacks the unexpected terrors of Jaws whilst the plot lines are a tad convoluted as can happen in adaptations of complex book plots for films.
Nick Nolte and Jacqueline Bisset are individually very good but I don’t sense much chemistry between them: she’s just too sophisticated for him and for an archaeologist he looks like he’d make a great truck driver.
|Jacqueline and Nick|
It’s now available on Blu-ray which will enhance the visual treat no end – not just the Bisset bumps* – and is available from Amazon as usual.
I could watch the opening shot of Bermuda and listen to the John Barry soundtrack on a loop for hours. I love this film!ReplyDelete
Ben, you are not wrong. This film has everything, incredible sea views, unbelievable sound track ( Donna Summer) incredible actors and last but not least Jacqueline Bissett. OMG.ReplyDelete
It's a great film to look at sun, sea and Bissett!ReplyDelete