the pion for the buried according to Besson

Jacques Mayol (Jean-Marc Barr) in “Le Grand Bleu” (1988), by Luc Besson.


It is difficult to clify The big Blue in a genre, between fable, parable, adventure, comedy, drama. Perhaps it is also an attempt at confession, at exorcism. It all begins in 1965, in black and white, on a Greek island where kids dive underwater to collect everything that glitters. A Frenchman, Jacques Mayol, whose father fishes sponges, and a Sicilian, Enzo Molinari, who speaks like a future godfather, are friends and already rivals. One day, Jacques’ father drowns in his rustic diving suit and the child, upset, does not hold a grudge against the sea, on the contrary, it is only there that he breathes.

Twenty years p. In Taormina, Enzo (Jean Reno), mafiosi, eats spaghetti and always dives. One day he said to his brother and lieutenant: “Find me the little Frenchman. » Where is he, anyway? In Peru – we have the means – diving under the ice of a frozen lake at 4,500 meters above sea level.

A lovely dizzy woman arrives, light and short dressed. It is Johanna (Rosanna Arquette), agent of a New York insurance company, who immediately falls in love with Jacques who has grown up (Jean-Marc Barr) and remained small at heart with his silence, his inability to ask questions, his mystical look a little struck.

Jacques (Jean-Marc Barr) and Johanna (Rosanna Arquette) in “Le Grand Bleu” (1988), by Luc Besson.

Later, Jacques goes to Taormina, invited to the world diving championship without tank by Enzo (reigning champion of the year). The two childhood friends drink champagne at the bottom of a swimming pool and dive. A lot.

Portrait of an illuminated person

For Jacques, according to the panoramic vision that Besson gives us, with post-pink-Floydian music (by Eric Serra) in support, diving into the deep blue is an ecstasy, a mystical fusion of which he is never saturated; and girls, sweet Jesus, he doesn’t see too much…

Read the survey (in 1988): Article reserved for our subscribers Autopsy of a success, “Le Grand Bleu”

We will not talk about depth psychology. It is, by the way, not so much a film about dolphins as the portrait of a crazy person who thinks he is a dolphin (he also has splendid hallucinations and the film is visually magnificent, powerful, skillful, without coquetry ).

Another reading would question Besson’s pion for the buried (after the metro of Subway, released in 1985, here confinement in the ocean), the game of competition between men, the symbolism of the big friendly fish, the fear of women and the suicidal refuge in the maternal ocean where, it seems, we meet God. Besson, who wants to make great, “global” cinema, à la Spielberg, without having the necessary and candid urance of the latter, nor his cunning way of making children of us.

The big Blue, film by Luc Besson (Fr.-It.-EU, 1988, 130 min). With Jean-Marc Barr, Jean Reno, Rosanna Arquette. Music: Eric Serra. Broadcast on Arte and available on demand on until November 30.

Michael Braudeau

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