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

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Released 2-Jun-2010

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Drama Featurette-Making Of-L'Aventure du Grand Bleu: Making The Big Blue
Theatrical Trailer
Trailer-Four Directors Suite trailers
Rating Rated M
Year Of Production 1988
Running Time 161:25 (Case: 168)
RSDL / Flipper RSDL (80:06)
Dual Disc Set
Cast & Crew
Start Up Ads Then 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 Amaray-Transparent
RPI $34.95 Music Bill Conti
Eric Serra

Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame Unknown English Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)
French Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 2.35:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 2.35:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English
English Alternate Subtitles
Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

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Plot Synopsis

     Recently, fellow MichaelDVD reviewer VanessaA wrote an excellent and thorough review of the release of this film from Madman's Directors Suite label on Blu-ray. Her review can be referenced here. For those of you who know this film well, the likelihood is that you have already picked up this release on Blu-ray. If you haven't, and are interested in the DVD release instead, then read on.

     The main difference between the Blu-ray and DVD Directors Suite releases is that the Blu-ray version includes director Luc Besson's Director's Cut (at 168 min) and the French Theatrical Cut (at 137 mins). The DVD includes only the Director's Cut; with the PAL transfer it is 161 minutes long. Both releases include the 97 minute French (with forced English subtitles) 'making-of' featurette.

     This film was one of Luc Besson's first scripts, along with The Fifth Element and is inspired, no doubt, by his formative years spent in Italy, Yugoslavia and Greece as the child of Club Med scuba diving instructors. The film is about the story of two divers, Jacques Mayol (played by Jean-Marc Barr), and Enzo Maiorca (renamed in the film as Enzo Molinari and played by Jean Reno), their affinity to life in the sea and their rivalry in free diving competition. The main characters are based on real-life divers, although they were not competitors as they were not close in age. The story takes a twist (as it usually does) with the advent of a third character, Johana Baker played by Rosanna Arquette (yes, remember her in Pulp Fiction?)

     The Big Blue (Le grand bleu in French; as VanessaA points out in her review, the French colloquial name for the Mediterranean Sea) was released to mixed reviews. Some critics called the film dull and boring, whereas others felt it moving and beautiful, especially in relation to the natural images of the sea and Eric Serra's ethereal score. It was a big hit in France, did great business in the box-office and has since become somewhat of a cult favourite in Luc Besson's film canon.

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Transfer Quality


     The Big Blue features some stunning natural photography of the sea. The aspect ratio of The Big Blue is 2:35:1. It is 16x9 enhanced.

     The main feature is the Director's Cut which is about 161 minutes long on this DVD. There are no other features on Disc One of this release apart from the film, so even though the average bitrate varies between 3 to 10 m/b per sec, the average bitrate of 6.34 m/b per sec is okay for DVD standards.

     Colour is neither enhanced or subdued, rather the photography is 'natural' looking. There are no major film artefacts although there is slight film grain evident in the transfer.

     Subtitles are available in English in default yellow or alternative white.

     The RSDL change occurs at 80:06 during a scene transition.

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


     Thankfully, the Eric Serra score is retained in this cut; the American release featured a different score by Bill Conti.

     There are two audio tracks, both encoded in Dolby Digital 5.1 at 448 kbps each. The main soundtrack is in English and the second soundtrack is a French dubbed track.

     Dialogue is clear and synchronised. Eric Serra's score is emotive, especially towards the end of the film. Surround channel usage is utilised discretely at times in all speakers. Dialogue of course is clear from the centre channel. The subwoofer is like the film, serene and used sparingly.

Audio Ratings Summary
Audio Sync
Surround Channel Use


Featurette-Making Of-L'Aventure de Grand Bleu (97 minutes)

     This 97 minute making-of featurette is the same one included on the Blu-ray release of the film. It's in French with forced English subtitles but it shows the development and production of the film with input from Besson and the main actors. This featurette is shown in a full-frame transfer, not 16x9 enhanced.

Theatrical Trailer (1:47)

     The original trailer is shown in a full-frame transfer, just like the 'making-of' featurette.

Directors Suite Trailers

     Four Directors Suite trailers are included for Coeurs by Alain Resnais, Angel-A by Luc Besson, The Edge of Heaven by Faith Akin and Grizzly Man by Werner Herzog.

R4 vs R1

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

     The Big Blue has been released many times over the years across all Regions onto DVD. It's difficult to compare releases because the film itself has many different cuts; the Director's Cut, the French Theatrical Cut and the European Theatrical Cut. The American theatrical version has not been released onto DVD, only laserdisc.

     The significant DVD releases from across all Regions include the Region 2 French four-disc Gaumont/Paramount 20th Anniversary Edition Boxset. This release includes the Director's Cut, The French theatrical version, The 97-minute Big Blue documentary, the 41-minute Cannes press conference featurette and a fourth disc which includes Besson's film Atlantis, released separately in the United Kingdom and in Australia in June 2010 by Madman Directors Suite label. This French cut includes DTS and Dolby Digital 5.1 French tracks. A barebones French release by Fox includes both main versions of the film and the English soundtrack. The Region 2 Japanese Ultimate Edition includes the Director's Cut and the European theatrical cut, although this is Pan and Scan. The Region 3 Korean Ultimate Edition is similar to the Japanese release (both the Director's Cut and European theatrical cut are included) except that it includes a bonus third disc which includes the film's soundtrack.

     The previous Region 4 release by Fox had a basic Dolby Digital 2.0 surround English and French Soundtrack and no extras so this release by Madman far surpasses that 2000 release. Ultimately, this release by Madman Directors Suite label is very good; if you want the French or European theatrical cut as well you may need to settle on another Regional DVD release or get the film on Blu-ray.


     The Big Blue by Luc Besson has received a quality release by Madman on their Directors Suite label, far better than the previous release in 2000 by Fox. If you want the French theatrical cut get the Blu-ray, otherwise the DVD will more than meet your needs.

Ratings (out of 5)


© John Stivaktas (I like my bio)
Friday, September 17, 2010
Review Equipment
DVDSony BDP-S550 (Firmware updated Version 020), using HDMI output
DisplaySamsung LA46A650 46 Inch LCD TV Series 6 FullHD 1080P 100Hz. Calibrated with THX Optimizer. This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderSony STR-K1000P. Calibrated with THX Optimizer.
AmplificationSony HTDDW1000
SpeakersSony 6.2 Surround (Left, Front, Right, Surround Left, Surround Back, Surround Right, 2 subwoofers)

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