my Movie

Movie Details

Title:   Blue Water, White Death
Director:   Peter Gimbel, James Lipscomb
Year:   1971
Genre:   Documentary
Times Seen:   2
Last Seen:   12.26.07

Other Movies Seen By This Director (0)

Notes History
Date Viewed Venue Note
12.26.07DVD I got this on DVD for Christmas and my mom showed interest due to the sticker saying this was an inspiration for Jaws. On second viewing I'm even more struck by how entertaining the film is. Perhaps not by documentary standards but just as a film. I LOVE it when the still photographer chucks the air tank into the ocean with no line or anything. That poor guy's time in the shark cage is both hilarious and frightening at the same time. I was still fairly convinced that the whole thing was a construction. I mean what kind of grandiose early-70s idea is it to travel the world in search of the Great White shark? How can one trip yield so many seaworthy cliches? And what about those dialogue scenes? "Hey kiddo, don't you think we can get out of the cages?" and the final decision to go to "Dangerous Reef" in South Australia... I don't think so.

On the DVD, there's a short special feature documenting some Beneath the Sea convention where many of the original crew popped back up. It's immedialtely hilarious to see Mr. "Those brutes just can't stand that sort of rough treatment" philosopher sporting an eyepatch and to see what years out in the sun have done to the Taylors, but then it gets into a bit of the making of the film. As it turns out, they say most of the film is complete verite except scenes where they had to film do-overs because they didn't capture the initial discussions. So since those scenes are so completely obvious, that makes me think that these guys aren't good enough actors to fake the stuff that isn't... which makes the film all the more amazing in my eyes.

It put us all in a mood to watch Jaws...
09.12.05Alamo DowntownThis Screening is part of event: QT6
In between the films, I spied Robert Rodriguez hanging out, talking to Harry. He is so buff now...

It's starting to gel a little bit. Familiar faces seen on line and at previous nights... sort of unspoken familiarity... there are lots of head nods between people who still haven't spoken... and of course all of the people who are already friends. The AICN crew behind me was talking about some girl that one of them thought was hot... it involved an order sheet asking to bring strawberry shortcake instead of chocolate cake... i thought for a moment it might have been about one of the two or three Alamo girls who were already mine (in my head) so i, perhaps mistakenly, turned around and asked who they were talking about but alas... such things are not really subjects for total strangers i guess... i shouldn't let my (imaginary) jealousy get the better of me. (the note was never sent).

So the next movie, Blue Water, White Death, is really really really great. To complement the previous film, this one is about mindless killers that are scary and ancient and completely without hesitation or sympathy: the great white shark.

This was the movie that Spielberg saw when he was getting going with Jaws and it heavily influenced the stuff with the shark tank and in fact they even hired some of these guys to shoot second unit stuff before principle photography even started (the stuff with the shark attacking "Dreyfuss" in the cage).

This movie.... i have real doubts about its authenticity. It's like completely opposite from Cry of the Wild where meticulous attention is paid to how things were done. In this movie, they go all over the place, from South Africa to the Mozambique islands to "Dangerous Cove, South Australia" in search of the elusive Great White. the people on board set themselves us as complete buffoons so when they're put in danger you actually sort of laugh because they so deserve it. While in a cage surrounded by white tips and great blues, one of them punches a passing shark, remarking "they hate that sort of rough business." When on the Mozambique islands, one of them gets right up to a sleeping little baby seal and shocks it awake. The poor seal nearly embolizes as it hops to and fro trying to get away from the evil humans. Three of them have an absurd conversation about leaving the cages to swim with the sharks where any sort of doubt seems to wash away within seconds just by one of the guys saying "i've been watching them and know their pattern." Meanwhile, their whole idea is to follow whaling ships to dive after they've killed Sperm whales that attract sharks to feast on the floating carcass. Of course, inserting a quick shot of one of the guys saying "they're so intelligent and interesting. at this rate they'll all be extinct before we can really discover them." makes the copious amounts of floating dead sperm whale ok somehow...

There's also a folk singer on board, apparently only there to supply the crew with some tunes while he gets his hair cut.

So they do leave the cages and there is some AMAZING photography here, including this great 360, maybe even 720 (hard to tell when they're underwater) degree panning shot of the ocean teaming with sharks both off in the distance and right up against the camera. At one point a shark tries to eat this girl's hair, mistaking it for floating meat. At others, sharks ease their mouths right up to these guys' heads before they can push them back. And yet when the girl attacks one with the boomstick, it's sort of sad but also funny because the shark starts quickly swimming in circles just like that old joke about the guy who's hit in the head so he tries to get away but he just walks around and around instead.

In another sequence, one dude gets the bends.

When they finally do find some great whites (off "Dangerous Coast" no less), the bastards immediately start chomping on the cages. Again, absolutely stunning photography of these huge babies knocking into them, trying to bite, attacking tethered pieces of meat. At one point a shark gets entangled on one of the lines connecting a cage to the ship and utterly knocks the crap out of this thing with a guy inside. It's really fantastic footage coupled with snide remarks after they surface and little jokes cracking left to right. It really doesn't seem real to me, but that doesn't keep it from being 100% awesome.

oh, on a final note, I got to see Lars ask these two women to please not talk during the movie. It was so awesome... they shut right up. For a skinny little dude, Lars can be pretty intimidating. I think it's all the hair.
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