Big Blue, The (Grand Bleu, Le) (Directors Suite) (Blu-ray) (1988)

If you create a user account, you can add your own review of this DVD

Released 2-Jun-2010

Cover Art

This review is sponsored by

Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Drama Main Menu Audio & Animation
Alternative Version-The Big Blue (Original Theatrical Cut) (137:26) 16x9 1080p
Featurette-Behind The Scenes-L'Aventure du Grand Bleu (97:00) 4:3 576p
Teaser Trailer-French Teaser Trailer (0:43) 4:3 576p
Theatrical Trailer-American Theatrical Trailer (1:47) 4:3 576p
Rating Rated M
Year Of Production 1988
Running Time 168:20
RSDL / Flipper Dual Layered Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 4 Directed By Luc Besson

Madman Entertainment
Starring Rosanna Arquette
Jean-Marc Barr
Jean Reno
Paul Shenar
Sergio Castellitto
Jean Bouise
Marc Duret
Griffin Dunne
Andréas Voutsinas
Valentina Vargas
Case Custom Packaging
RPI $39.95 Music Bill Conti
Eric Serra

Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 5.1 (640Kb/s)
French Dolby Digital 5.1 (640Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 2.35:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 1080p
Original Aspect Ratio 2.35:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

No regrets, no tears.

Only a strange feeling, slipping without falling.

I'll try another world, where the water is not blue anymore, another reality.

Oh, my baby I love you, My lady blue.

I'm looking for something that I'll never reach.

I seek eternity.

Eric Serra - My Lady Blue

As a child I distinctly remember how watching Le grand bleu 'felt' - the film sparked my imagination and it was perhaps the moment when I realised films are more than just entertainment, they are works of art and expression (I actually wrote about the film as ten year-old for a school assignment - wish I could find what I had written - however I'm sure the sentiment is the same, years later).

Luc Besson's work certainly defined my childhood and Le grand bleu is a film, I can say with certainty, that never quite left me; it's collective characters, images and sounds feel like memories - ghosts and shadows of a not so distant past. As a child I watched Le grand bleu repeatedly, with growing wide-eyes and a completely open heart, and the film somewhat imprinted itself on me and it has always remained that way.

Le grand bleu is loosely based on the friendship and rivalry between the late French free diver Jacques Mayol and Italian pioneer of the extreme sport of free diving, Enzo Maiorca (renamed Enzo Molinari in the film), but the film is also very much about Besson and his desire to be one with the sea. Besson is the son of Club Med scuba diving instructors and he grew up in various tourist resorts in Italy and Greece, surrounded by the endless sea and it's magic and secrets beneath the surface. Besson, then a budding marine biologist, unfortunately suffered a diving accident at age 17 which prevented him from ever diving again.

"Don't look at Jacques as if he was a human being, he comes from another planet"

Jacques Mayol is mesmerising, as portrayed by Jean-Marc Barr as a fish-out-of- water. He stumbles and falters on land, but in the vast open sea he is free and at peace with his "family". Mayol has the unusual ability to adjust his heart rate and breathing patterns in the water replicating that of a dolphin; he is more fish than man. Enzo Molinari, touchingly portrayed by a young Jean Reno, is a proud amiable Italian (with a memorable deep voice and phrasing pattern) who clearly cares for Mayol, yet delights in their rivalry; he knows Mayol will always be his true competition as a free diver.

The sea is a very different beast for Mayol and Molinari - Mayol sees the sea as another world, a world which he clearly loves, while the dry land above is a place he doesn't have any emotional or physical ties to, until the arrival of the wide-eyed Johana Baker, portrayed by Rosanna Arquette, who literally turns Mayol's life upside down. Molinari, who is the world champion free diver wants to conquer the sea - does not have the spiritual and emotional connections to the sea that the otherworldly Mayol has, as Mayol's father died in a diving accident when he was a child; for him the sea is a place of love and death. Molinari is a confident man, with a big personality and love of life and family, which is at odds with the young, inexperienced, isolated and perhaps immature Mayol, who is desperately trying to define himself on land.

Mayol's ensuing problematic relationship with Baker forces Mayol to come face to face with his true love; she asks him what does it feel like when he is diving and he tells her once he is in the depths of the bottomless sea, in the darkness of Le grand bleu (the French nickname for the Mediterranean Sea) "You have to find a good reason to come back up..."

Le grand bleu is a film which has received cult status over the years and with this Blu-ray release hopefully the film will be embraced by a new audience.

(This review is written in reference to Le grand bleu- Version Longue. Both this extended version and the French Theatrical Version (137:26) of the film are available on this Blu-ray release, however the U.S version, which was severely edited, features an alternative score from Bill Conti and an alternative ending , is absent from this release).

Don't wish to see plot synopses in the future? Change your configuration.

Transfer Quality


Le grand bleu is presented in 1080p 2.35:1 16x9 enhanced widescreen transfer on a single sided, dual-layer Blu-ray 50 disc. The film features some decent black levels and remains mostly artefact free. Le grand bleu was filmed largely on the Cyclades Islands, Corsica, Taormina, U.S Virgin Islands and Chattanooga and the underwater photography is simply beautiful.

The print is thankfully damage free and the natural lighting, crisp shots of the ocean and sun soaked scenery remain visually arresting.

I've seen the film on a variety of formats and this transfer is simply one of the best I've seen, despite the somewhat constant low to moderate bitrate (16 -18 Mb/s) - which is probably attributed to the fact that there are both versions of Le grand bleu - which both have a run-time of more than 2 hours each are on this 50 GB disc, as well as the 97 minute "Making-of".

There are very mild noise artefacts and evidence of grain on occasion but this is a very minor issue. In short, this is an excellent transfer which certainly makes for enjoyable viewing - absolutely gorgeous.

The optional English subtitles appear in a clear and crisp white font.

Video Ratings Summary
Shadow Detail
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts


Le grand bleu was filmed primarily in English (French and Italian are briefly spoken) and there are two soundtracks available on this Blu-ray, the original English Soundtrack and a dubbed French soundtrack - Reno and Barr voice the French dubbed soundtrack also. Both soundtracks are 5.1 Dolby Digital (640 Kb/s) soundtracks and remain error free. Dialogue is clear and distinct. Bass is moderate and the soundtrack remains a somewhat encompassing experience.

Upon finding out the original English soundtrack on this Blu-ray was a 5.1 Dolby Digital (640 Kb/s) soundtrack, I was initially disappointed as the French Blu-ray features the French dubbed soundtrack as a DTS-HD Master soundtrack; however, I would rather have the original English soundtrack in a standard format instead of the dubbed French soundtrack in a superior format.

Eric Serra's score in Le grand bleu is a magnum opus and works masterfully with the impressive visuals. I would have loved to hear it as a DTS-HD Master soundtrack however only as the original English soundtrack.

Serra's score is light and gentle in a calypso rhythmic sense at first and then builds to an emotional climax which incorporates various percussion instruments, saxophones, guitars, deeper synthesised tones and the sounds of the ocean.

It's a brave emotional score, with all the hallmarks of Serra's eclectic soundscape and was bizarrely dropped from the U.S version of Le grand bleu for a conventional score by Bill Conti. The film concludes with Serra's infectious My Lady Blue - which was released as a single in France.

Audio Ratings Summary
Audio Sync
Surround Channel Use


Main Menu Audio & Animation

The main menu is composed of one the memorable sequences/montages of Le grand bleu. The main menu and pop-up menu includes 12 scene selection options, sound and subtitle options and access to the extra features.

Alternative Version

The main extra feature is the Original French Theatrical version of Le grand bleu (137:27) which is presented in 1080p, 2.35:1, 16x9 enhanced widescreen transfer. The audio options, which have to be accessed manually, are an English Linear PCM soundtrack and a French (Dubbed) DTS Stereo soundtrack.

Featurette-L'Aventure de Grand Bleu

The extensive making of (in French with English subtitles) is an hour and a half of production footage accompanied with Serra's score. Includes footage from the various sets of the large production, which give an insight into Besson's directing style, and features interviews and narration from Besson, Barr and Reno.

This is a nice addition to this Blu-ray as Besson still refrains from recording commentaries for his feature films. After watching this making-of, there is the realisation that such a film will never be made in this day and age of computer generated effects. It's a great shame and another reason to embrace Le grand bleu so many years after its release.

Theatrical Trailers

The French Teaser is an absolute delight, a single mysterious shot with Besson's name - it is certainly ambitious and iconic, considering the director was not even 30 at the time the film was being made. However the U.S trailer opts to delve into the love story of the feature film.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

Madmans Directors Suite release of Le grand bleu has many positives and few negatives, particularly in comparison with some of the international Blu-ray releases of Le grand bleu.

Firstly the French Paramount Blu-ray release is a three disc set. Le grand bleu (Version Longue) is featured on the first Blu-ray as a stand-alone feature, with the only option the Dubbed French DTS HD Master soundtrack; no subtitles are included. The second Blu-ray disc is Atlantis, directed by Luc Besson, which has been released by Madman as part of the Directors Suite title range as a stand-alone title. The final disc is a DVD which includes the making-of (which is included on the Madman release) without English subtitles and it also includes the 41 minute 'Festival de Cannes' press conference, which is also in French without English subtitles.

The UK Optimum Blu-ray release like the French release only includes the dubbed French language as a PCM stereo soundtrack - presumably with English subtitles. The extra feature content on this release is identical to the Madman release; The French theatrical version of Le grand bleu, the 90 minute Making-of, L'Aventure de Grand Bleu, and the French teaser trailer and U.S theatrical trailer.

In comparison, the Madman release is the clear winner as it includes the original English language soundtrack, but unfortunately in a standard audio format. Both the theatrical and extended versions of the film are also included; however on the same Blu-ray. Extra feature content is comprehensive and is only missing the 41 minute 'Festival de Cannes' Press Conference, which is included on the French Paramount Blu-ray release on a separate DVD with Atlantis. The omission of Atlantis as an extra feature and sold as a standalone Blu-ray is debatable (it was also released separately in the UK) but as a whole the current Madman release is a winner.


Le grand bleu is one of my favourite films; that is not say others may not find flaws with it, but for me personally this is a truly great film from a then young, gifted, ambitious and confident director who chose to make a very personal film and continued to find great acclaim in France and cult status outside France for his defiant and lively imagination.

What makes Le grand bleu a grand achievement is the haunting final scene - few filmmakers would have the courage to say true to their character.

The Madman Blu-ray release should be commended but unfortunately it is not definitive. It includes the original English language soundtrack, but unfortunately in a standard audio format. Both the theatrical and extended versions of the film are also included however on the same Blu-ray. Extra feature content is comprehensive and is only missing the 41 minute 'Festival de Cannes' Press Conference, which is included on the French Paramount Blu-ray release on a separate DVD with Atlantis. The omission of Atlantis as an extra feature and sold as a standalone Blu-ray (as it was in the UK also) is debatable but as a whole the current Madman release is a winner.

Ratings (out of 5)


© Vanessa Appassamy (Biography)
Thursday, July 01, 2010
Review Equipment
DVDPanasonic DMP-BD35, using HDMI output
DisplayPanasonic PT-AE 700. Calibrated with THX Optimizer. This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 1080p.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with THX Optimizer.
AmplificationOnkyo TX-SR800
Speakers(Front) DB Dynamics Polaris AC688F loudspeakers,(Centre) DB Dynamics Polaris Mk3 Model CC030,(Rear) Polaris Mk3 Model SSD425,(Subwoofer) Jensen JPS12

Other Reviews NONE
Comments (Add)
A question - Nick REPLY POSTED