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Johanna: You really send him under the ice? ...How is he going to breathe?
Dr. Laurence: He isn't.

Luc Besson was once a diver before an accident forbade him to continue. It inspired him to write and direct this movie, which was released in 1988 and starred Jean-Marc Barr, Jean Reno, Rosanna Arquette and Paul Shenar. √Čric Serra composed the soundtrack.

It is about the Real Life rivalry between Jacques Mayol and Enzo Maiorca, pioneers in the world of breath-hold deep diving.


This work provides examples of:

  • Ambiguous Ending:
    • In the European version, the ending strongly implies that Jacques dies, because he dives at a great depth and follows a dolphins in the vast blackness of the deep ocean, but his death is not shown.
    • The American version. Jacques swims with a dolphin from an insane depth up to the surface and swims with said dolphin under the moonlight. Roll credits.
  • Ambulance Cut: Jacques and Enzo, who are already drunk, are shown drinking a bottle of champagne in apnea at the bottom of a swimming pool. Cut to paramedics carrying Jacques and Enzo on stretchers.
  • Better with Non-Human Company: Jacques has a special bond with dolphins and has difficulties to develop relationships with humans. At some point he says that dolphins are his family.
  • Birth-Death Juxtaposition: Just after Enzo's death, a doctor tells Johana that she is pregnant.
  • Burial at Sea: Jacques brings Enzo's body in the depths of the sea, as he requested.
  • Creator Cameo: Luc Besson appears as one of the competing freedivers.
  • Downer Ending: The European version. Jacques is victorious in getting a world record depth of 400 feet (121.92 meters), however, his friend, Enzo, dies trying to beat his record in the competition, and after burying his friend and competitor at sea, Jacques experiences side effects of his last deep dive and ends his life following a dolphin in the vast blackness of the deep ocean, leaving a pregnant Joanna behind.
  • Dream Sequence: Near the end of the film, Jacques dreams that the ceiling of his bedroom turns into a body of water.
  • Driven to Suicide: After witnessing the death of his friend Enzo, Jacques realizes that he does not belong to the human society. He dives at a great depth, lets go of his harness and follows a dolphins in the vast blackness of the deep ocean.
  • Flashback Echo: When Enzo has a diving accident, a short flashback shows that Jacques remembers the death of his father in another diving accident.
  • Friendly Rivalry: Jacques and Enzo are close friends despite knowing that sooner or later they will have to prove which one is the best in the world.
  • Funny Foreigner: The Japanese team is ridiculed: a large group of trainers surrounds the freediver and encourages him noisily. Eventually the champion feels faint before diving. Enzo and his brother applaud them sarcastically.
  • Graceful Loser: When his record is beaten by Jacques, Enzo accepts it with dignity and even gives presents to Jacques: a dolphin sculpture and a tape measure of one meter that represents the difference between their records.
  • Last Request: A dying Enzo asks Jacques to bring his body in the depths of the sea.
  • Love at First Sight: Johana falls in love immediately when she meets Jacques in Peru.
  • A Minor Kidroduction: The prologue is set in the 1960s, when Jacques and Enzo were children.
  • Missing Mom: Jacques's mother left him and his father because she could not stand the life of shellfish harvesters.
  • Monochrome Past: The first part of the movie in 1960s Greece is black and white footage. Only the film's title sequence is blue. The main part of the film, which is set in the 1980s, is in colour.
  • My Beloved Smother: Enzo's mother controls him. She does not let him eat pasta prepared by someone else.
  • Nature Hero: Jacques spends a lot of time in the sea, has an affinity with dolphins and says that they are his family. He can communicate with them and immediately realizes that a dolphin is homesick at Taormina delphinarium. He has more difficulty to communicate with humans.
  • No Celebrities Were Harmed: The character of Enzo Molinari is based on real-life Enzo Maiorca, but his full name is not used because he did not allow it. He would later sue the production company to ban the film in Italy.
  • Rambunctious Italian: Enzo is loud and hot-blooded.
  • Red Oni, Blue Oni: Enzo is a boisterous, fun-loving guy, contrasted to the cool, aloof Jacques.
  • Socially Awkward Hero: Jacques dares to dive at great depths without hesitation, but it is very difficult for him to start dating a girl (even if said girl is obviously interested in him) and to maintain the relationship.
  • Speaks Fluent Animal: Jacques can communicate with dolphins and immediately realizes that one of them is homesick at Taormina delphinarium.
  • Talking Down the Suicidal: In the end, Johana talks to Jacques and tries to convince him not to dive in the depths of the sea, but eventually she realizes that he is determined to do it and she pulls the release cord for the dive ballast, which sends Jacques to the depths.
  • Very Loosely Based on a True Story: The story is based on the real-life rivalry and friendship between Jacques Mayol and Enzo Maiorca, but most of the events depicted in the film are made up. Moreover, Jacques and Enzo are depicted as kids in 1965 and as adults in their prime in 1988, whereas Jacques Mayol and Enzo Maiorca were born in 1927 and 1931 respectively.
  • Vomit Indiscretion Shot: Enzo is shown vomiting when he is taken out of the pool where he drank champagne with Jacques.
  • Wet Blanket Wife: Johana would like to live a normal life with Jacques and would like him to stop his dangerous dives.

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