Thursday, February 2, 2012

Film: The Deep (1977) [Dir. Peter Yates]

Matinees! You are in for a serious nautical treat this week. We have a very special guest from the Tucson Aquatic Enthusiast Society, founder and ubermensch, the Navigator. Now, your Matinee manager has been a long time fan of the genius of the Navigator, but most especially in maritime knowledge and prowess, and it is that acumen, we shall depend on to chart the waters of our most righteous and ridiculous feature, The Deep.
This being our Matinee house's first "on location" viewing, i should set the aqua cinema scene. Assembled with a representative body of esteemed TAES members--The Navigator, Aquatic Ensign, Mizzen Mastman, Safety Expert, Beach Comber, and myself, a newly christened Skipjack Mariner, we boarded our submarine movie house en masse and descended into the Abyss, looking out into what the Aquatic Ensign designated as our one viewing window into the movie. It was dark, dangerous and the menace of water surrounded our brave band of movie divers.
Tucson Aquatic Enthusiast Society's Cinema Submarine
Our Viewing out, there goes Gail!
The Deep is from writer Peter Benchley, of Jaws legend (yes, Matinees, JAWS) and begins off the coast of Bermuda during a meditative dive where all natural delights are duly noted. Note: the dive is gorgeous and you may lose yourself under the sea, or vulnerable to more randy pleasures, Jacqueline's Bissets are distractingly captivating. (Not one of us was unchanged by those nipples...)
Our intrepid divers are vacationers Nick Nolte as David and Jacqueline Bisset as Gail who explore two underwater shipwrecks. They discover a Spanish coin and a small glass ampule during their first dive and Gail nearly loses her arm, in a nice foreshadowing of dangerous aquatic creatures.
That night our daring duo is jamming at a tres sweet cocktail party and approached by Louis Gosset, Jr as Henri Clouche who has the lowdown on their diving booty. He offers to buy the mysterious glass vial, but David and Gail fall over each other lying and refusing the deal. Oh how they will regret that move...
Now knowing they have something desirable, they spend some prime beach hours in the Bermuda Public Library where they discover the work of Romer Treece, played by Robert Shaw as a salty seaman with Mr Wizard science skills and the clunkiest Scotch-Aussie-British Imperialist marooned in a lighthouse accent you ever heard (an unanimous TAES vote an hour through viewing succumbed to subtitles and a collective sigh was heard through the submarine viewing tank).
Pulling their sunburnt brains together, Treece, Gail and David realize the shipwrecks are boats from two vastly different eras, the Goliath which sunk during WWII full of medical supplies and munitions--including a morphine mother lode. Those mysterious glass ampules! A-HA!
And an older ship from the Spanish Armada, which may or may not be laded with gold, rubies, pearls---and other requisite pirate type treasures. For the Spanish ship, they must find a particular object to assert "provenance" or confirm their theories on the ship and its storied gems. You are going to hear "provenance" about a million times in the last third of the flick, so best to know now what you are dealing with...
Treece is skeptical of treasure to follow that Spanish coin, but David operates on his intellectual joie de vivre, "I do things for the experience!" Gail's response? "Yes, and you have t-shirts to prove it!" Domestic bliss.
The trio set off for more dives, David for imagined jewels, Treece as the self-appointed war on drugs vanguard for Bermuda and Gail, apparently for the hell of it. And to be fair? The only one smart enough to use a breathing tank while diving and generally keeping David alive.
Clouche's posse is on to David, Treece and Gail and he wants those morphine ampules to sell in disco era North America.
In a wild whirl of voodoo intimidation tactics, an infiltration of the salty sea crew and flat out mafioso negotiations, Clouche has Treece make an ill fated deal. One that can only lead to a battle royale under the ocean...hang on to those red beanies!
Just when the silence of the Deep (and lack of soundtrack) lull you into a dreamy watery state, there are terrifying and wonderful surprises---Pissed off water creatures? Maybe. Dangerous diving apparatuses? Quite possibly. Leaps of logic and plot holes? Indubitably.
The TAES crew was quite awesome in dealing with the random moments of racialized villianry (and of which Louis Gosset, Jr. critiques in his sarcastic delivery). Thankfully, the Safety Expert sensed the delicate nature of Benchley's lazy writing and called in on Cornell West to make a cameo. He popped on board the TAES cine-marine to mitigate these issues, and then took off for his own diving expedition up to the Bering Strait. Thanks Professor West, don't forget to write!
Now please join the Navigator and your Matinee manger for a follow-up conversation on aquatic necessities in the next post. We are mixing the cocktails now...

No comments:

Post a Comment