The Big Blue

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The Big Blue (French: Le Grand Bleu) is a 1988 English-language film made by French director Luc Besson. The film stars Jean-Marc Barr, Rosanna Arquette, Jean Reno and depicts a fictionalized account of the sporting rivalry between two famed free divers.



Le Grand Bleu was released in France on May 11, 1988 and in the United States August 22, 1988. It was released in the United States under the name The Big Blue. Luc Besson was initially unsure of who to cast in the main role of Jacques Mayol. He initially offered the role to Christopher Lambert and Mickey Rourke and even considered himself for the role until someone suggested Jean-Marc Barr. Besson has a cameo appearance as one of the divers in the film. Le Grand Bleu was the most financially successful French film of the 1980s gaining 9,193,873 admissions in France alone and played in French theaters for a year. The film was also a modest Box Office hit in the States grossing $3,580,882.


The film charts the competition and friendship of real-life champions Jacques Mayol (played by Barr) and Enzo Maiorca (renamed in the film to "Enzo Molinari", and played by Reno). However the divers were not close in age in real life (four years apart) and did not compete. The action is divided into two timelines - the nascent rivalry between the two divers as children, and (as adults) their final competition at the world free-diving championships at the Sicilian town of Taormina. Mayol's search for love, family, "wholeness" and the meaning of life and death is a strong undercurrent of the latter timeline.


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