“The Big Blue / Le Grand Bleu” by Luc Besson

You may ask yourselves, what the heck is this guy now doing speaking about movies on a blog that was suposed to be just a plain illustration blog.
Well, that´s the point. An illustration blog in my view has a lot to gain not just by presenting an artist´s work as a continuous portfolio, but also in giving a glimpse of how the person behind the drawings thinks and feels. Particulary speaking about inspiration sources that can also be useful for the reader.
And nothing gets me more inspired when it comes to movie references than [“The Big Blue – Le Grand Bleu“] by Luc Besson.
A lot of my illustrations have a little bit of ocean somewhere (or water) because of this movie.
So let me introduce it to you.

If you never eard about [“The Big Blue – Le Grand Bleu“] , but you love the sea, you´re totally fascinated by the ocean and believe that dolphins really are another inteligent race co-existing with humans under the same sky, stop reading this text now and go buy the movie.
And if you´re a diver don´t even blink before you do it.
No, really, don´t waste any time because if you have any connection whatsoever with the sea and never even knew that a movie like this existed, you´ll already want to own a copy ot it. Yes you do. You just don´t know it yet.

And yes you can get [“The Big Blue – Le Grand Bleu“] from tons of torrents out there. And it´s ok if you do, but trust me, this is a movie that deserves to be seen in magnificent digital original  and not as a bootleg dvd rip out there because its magic depends totally between the combination of image and sound so do yourself a favor and buy the thing now, because you will sooner or later anyway.

[“The Big Blue – Le Grand Bleu“] is a unique story and movie. Not only within the filmography of Luc Besson, but in Cinema generally speaking and it´s the film that is even sometimes loved by people that usually dislike Besson´s work a lot.
Simply because there´s nothing like this movie out there.
A note of caution though; if you´re expecting something like a sci-fi thriller that´s hinted on trailer for the american release, forget it and go see Transformers instead. It has some good sci-fi medical based themes in it but it´s not what you expect it to be if you believe what the trailer tells you.
The trailer for the american/international release of [“The Big Blue – Le Grand Bleu“] must be one of the most horrendous trailers ever created to sell a movie to the american (and americanized) audiences. If not, the most misleading trailer ever done too.

By looking at the available american trailer, you might think Luc Besson´s movie about the ocean, is something like a strange high-tech thriller. Something like “Leon” with dolphins, a touch of James Cameron stuff throwned in and a lot of James Bond locations, perhaps.
Sorry people, it´s not.
The locations rival anything that ever appeared in a 007 movie allright, but techno-thriller [“The Big Blue – Le Grand Bleu“] ain´t.
Oh, and there´s no mystery at all to be solved contrary to what that boomed voice anounces in the trailer.
The only mystery in this movie is , who came up with such a ridiculous and misleading trailler ?!!
People who´ve paid tickets thinking this was some kind of action adventure high-tech thriller should have sued the american studio which distributed such a poetic film pretending that [“The Big Blue – Le Grand Bleu“] was something that it never was, or could ever be for that matter.

But what´s  The Big Blue about ?
This is the worst thing anyone can ask about this movie and I would have hated to be the guy who had to publicize this in USA for the popcorn market.
If you´re not affraid of watching a story that has its own pace, don´t worry, [“The Big Blue – Le Grand Bleu“] it´s not one of those mega boring Art-House so called masterpieces of Art that scare so many people out.
Although  the modern popcorn crowd  won´t like i´m sure. Simply because this is not one of those movies with 200 frames per second, mega-fast paced editing in MTV style and an action special effects scene between X amount of screen time.
Luc Besson created [“The Big Blue – Le Grand Bleu“] as a contemplative poem and a love story about the ocean. There´s no giant robots in sight that change into cool cars, teenagers that wear the latest fashion clothes and nobody lunches at McDonalds in [“The Big Blue – Le Grand Bleu“].

What more can i say about it?… That it´s the story of two friends who compete to find out who´s best ?…It´s more than that ! That it´s a love story ? It goes much beyond a typical love story ! That it´s an adventure ? You bet it is ! But it has no action, no chases,no dangerous cliffangers, no guns and no explosions. It doesn´t even has bad guys ! Or good guys in fact. It´s a travel film or a road movie then… Probably. The locations in this movie are breath-taking and they´re all real.

[“The Big Blue – Le Grand Bleu“] is not an action movie, it´s not a thriller and there are no aliens hiding under the ocean, (come to think…maybe there are…). Anyway it´s not an action packed underwater adventure car chases,  guns, action scenes, nothing. And it´s definetely not a romantic comedy for teens, although it must be the greatest date movie ever created. Why ? Well if your girlfriend loves dolphins…this is the one to see. Trust me.
What ?! You don´t like dolphins ?!! You will.

So, there´s a woman and two men in it. There´s got to be a love triangle there to cause all those love story rivalry subplots, right ? Well, there´s a love triangle, but there aren´t subplots attached to it.
In fact the love triangle has more than three people.
All characters are a part of it really. Including dolphins and even the ocean !

Aha ! So this is some sort of a kinky erotic and exotic movie thing ? Wrong ! There´s sex in it, but not in that way at all.
It´s a comedy then… You´ll laugh, but you´ll cry too.
It´s a drama … Not in the conventional cliché way. Not at all.
A dramatic comedy… Nope !

It´s a sci-fi film !… Actually you might not even notice that bit of the plot, but now that i´ve seen The Big Blue more times than i can make you believe I did, i really can see this story as a sci-fi tale too. Not only the dolphins are presented in a subliminar way like just another race of beings (that also double for mermaids in the general mythology within the story), but also everything around what makes the character of Jaqques Mayol be like a human dolphin could have been writen in a good hardcore sci-fi novel. So i guess [“The Big Blue – Le Grand Bleu“] can have its place among the best science fiction movies ever without being one openly, because contrary to what the american trailer wants you to believe, it never tries to be one.
But it´s more sci-fi than 99% of the special effects stravaganzas that come out of Hollywood nowadays, this you can bet. It´s sci-fi in a subtil way, more like a 2001 Space Odissey in the ocean than Transformers if you get my idea…

So what is this movie really about ?!!
It´s about what you want it to be.
About what you´re feeling.
It´s that open. You just have to feel it.
As Luc Besson said in an interview, at some point in the making of the movie he was stuck, because he didn´t knew how to carry the audience inside his world of water and solitude.

Then the real Jaqques Mayol, who worked in the film as a diving and story consultant took Besson diving with him one day and made him experience the sea in his way.
This way Besson understood that he didn´t had to explain anything to the audience.
He just had to make people feel what it was like !
And boy, did he make it !

The atmosphere in this movie goes beyond words. It has to be felt ! And you will.
Also the soundtrack is out of this world and trully magical as it fits the scenes like a soundtrack rarely does nowadays and it in itself an isolated character in the plot controling the tone of the viewers emotions from afar.

To me this film is about love, but in a much deeper meaning than the usual.
Beyond race, beyond gender, beyond sex, beyond nationality.
Love as an emotion and friendship as some kind of different love too.
And about freedom !
Specialy about freedom.

So get a wide screen TV and a full blast surround.
[“The Big Blue – Le Grand Bleu“] is the reason to buy one if you don´t have it, believe me ! And watch it in the dark.
And by the way…do yourself a favor and watch only the so called “Directors Cut” with more than 160 minutes, not the short 130 minutes one. Please.
That long cut is in fact the real movie before the American distributors had butchered it and reedited it to create the theatrical “international” version that most people knew until Luc Besson released the complete version which is now available everywhere.
Watching the two versions it´s like watching two different movies altogheter and the longer original cut really makes a difference in everything.

The american short version in the States even had all the incredible original soundtrack created by Eric Serra erased and replaced with an american one because the american distributors at the time felt they needed the movie to sound more like a Pop videoclip to compensate for the slow pace of the story (they even tried to eliminate).
This short version in America even had to have a different ending, because the studios wanted a clear and definitive happy ending without any ambiguity so one was even created or the movie wouldn´t be released in america and to the world. It´s even hard to believe !

Anyway, everything is great nowadays, the movie is back in it´s full lenght and it´s also available now in Blu-Ray, wich includes a 90+ minutes making of documentary wich no [“The Big Blue – Le Grand Bleu“] fan will want to miss. Altough i cannot comment on it yet because i have yet to see it too.
Just make sure you get the English Blu-Ray recently released (or the old dvd for the long version) and don´t go buy the movie in France .
Although [“The Big Blue – Le Grand Bleu“] is a French movie, its original soundtrack is in English, but the french edition of the Blu-Ray only has the french dubbed version and not the original english dialogues. So beware, make sure you buy the UK release and not the french one.

This is the movie of my life and so i had to tell everyone here about it, because it´s definetly a major, major influence in all my art (even when it doesn´t seems like) and i consider it a good example of how something like a movie can affect the life of a person.
I never before saw a film that i could identify myself so much with. I´m lucky enough to live in a place near the sea very similar and as beautiful as those in the movie and the opening scenes always remind me of my teenage years and the waters i explored like young Jaqques Mayol does in the beginning of the movie. And there still things in there that i still do. So i immediatley related to the character and its love for the ocean.

I guess that´s the beauty of this movie. It makes us feel that we could be any of its characters, because they´re so real. We almost can´t believe that they don´t exist outside of the movie.
And by the way, full marks to all the actors.
Years ago when i learned that the guy who played the unforgetable Italian character Enzo, was in fact Jean Reno a French actor that never even dived before acepting this role, i had to pick up pieces of my chin from the floor and to me Enzo, remains the best work Jean Reno ever did. Altough he´s more popular due to the other Luc Besson´s movie -Leon- because it was the action movie that presented Jean Reno to Hollywood, to me the unforgetable Enzo will always be his top movie acting performance. You´ll never find a more Italian character in movies than Enzo, played by this brilliant french actor wich steals the show in almost all scenes is in.

And let´s not forget about Rosana Arquette e Jean Marc Barr as Joanna and Jaqques wich are absolutely brilliant also and bring us totally believable persons on the screen to a point we totally forget we´re watching actors in a movie.
The character of Jaqques Mayol is the soul of the movie and Joanna is one of the best romantic female characters of the 80´s due to a simplicity you will love and be totally mesmerized by.

In fact [“The Big Blue – Le Grand Bleu“] is one of those movies totally rich in characters that you´ll never forgget with great performances from the cast. Sergio Castellito as Roberto, Enzo´s brother is the perfect choice and another proof that Luc Besson can write good parts even for the secondary characters, wich of course brings me to, Mama ! Or i´d better not…

You´ll find out by yourself.
Another detail worth mention is the children casting which is incredible.
The kids look exactly like their adult versions of the characters and they really can act.
Simply one of the best child castings to fit older characters i´ve seen up to this day.

It´s an amazing ,beautifuly well written ,acted, photographed and directed movie ! It carries us into an extraordinary world, and it´s our world !! (mine at least to some point) Not some Hollywood depiction of reality.
And besides, it has the most amazing scenes with dolphins you´ll ever see in a movie !
All among incredible scenery and almost enchanted seascapes that you´ll never forget.

[“The Big Blue – Le Grand Bleu“] it´s my top inspiring movie when it comes to create illustration and i can bet that if you´re a bit like me, soon, it will be yours too. 😉
Oh, and you´ll be quoting its lines for years to come too, as it´s one of those screenplays filled with memorable dialogues…Roberto mio parmo … 😉
Go get it.
It´s brilliant, a masterpiece of atmosphere and visual poetry and a totally unique story and movie with unforgetable characters.

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ADITIONAL NOTES

Bellow is a bit of the begining of the movie for you to check out if this is your type of atmosphere or not. The begins in black in white then opens into full color about 10 minutes into the picture.

There´s a great alternative new trailer created for the release of the full version of the movie, that you need to check it out because it has almost a magic feel to it and conveys beautifuly the atmosphere of the story.
Click here to see this new good trailer.

You can get it from here, but if you feel this is your type of movie, go buy it right away because it´s one that deserves to be experienced in the best technical conditions you can get and not just through a crappy dvd rip copy.

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My first imaginary landscapes – As minhas primeira paisagens imaginarias.

This is one of my very old sketches created more than 20 years ago when i was learning to draw and create my own fantasy landscapes.
As i always thought a good way to learn how to do this type of stuff was to copy from the best, one day i started to copy by hand some illustrations of my favorite illustrators at the time. When i found this Tim White original illustration i thought it would be a good challenge to try to replicate it in pencil and so i went for it.
I learned a lot from creating this drawing. While copying the original it tought me how to use perspective and texture to create depth, how to add details to create the ilusion of perspective, how to place a character to add dimension to a scenery and lots of other things.
From this pic on, i started to apply what i had learn creating it, in my very own fantasy landscapes and so this pic i guess you can say was my school of art in creating imaginary worlds.

The first landscape drawing i created - A primeira paisagem imaginária
The first imaginary landscape i did - A primeira paisagem imaginária que criei.

Este foi um dos meus primeiros desenhos feitos mais a sério. Foi ao criar esta imagem que eu aprendi bastante não só sobre perspectiva mas também como usar vários elementos e detalhes para equilibrar uma paisagem imaginária.
Sempre achei que uma boa maneira de aprendermos a desenhar seria copiar dos melhores e portanto um dia, mais de 20 anos atrás, decidi que iria aprender tudo sobre paisagem e ao encontrar uma ilustração originalmente de Tim White, decidi tentar copiá-la a olho, lado a lado usando apenas o lápis e o resultado foi esta imagem que entretanto me ensinou muito mais do que muitos livros sobre todo o processo de criação de uma paisagem imaginária.
Depois de criar este desenho comecei então a tentar aplicar sózinho o que tinha aprendido e o resultado desenvolveu-se até hoje. Se notarem muitas das minhas paisagens contêm elementos ainda originais saidos deste primeiro desenho.

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After that initial atempt, i had learned a lot more than i was expecting to when copying that original Tim White pic and so i got confident to try and make my first fantasy landscape totaly imagined by myself.
So trying to apply all that i had learned i sketched this image below one day at the beach.
Initialy it was also only the lineart because i didn´t knew how to use colors yet, but about ten years later i painted it to look like what you can see below.
It´s still one of my favorite imaginary landscapes of mine and of most people who like my work. I have a huge poster of this image on my wall and despite some flaws i still really like this imaginary world.
This image even later on became the basis for my Thorondor world present at my 200 page graphic novel – The Adventures of Prince Ziph.

My first fantasy landscape created on my own. A primeira paisagem de fantasia que criei por mim proprio.
My first fantasy landscape created on my own. A primeira paisagem de fantasia que criei por mim proprio.

Depois de ter criado esse primeiro esboço a partir da ilustração de Tim White senti-me confiante para tentar criar a minha primeira paisagem de fantasia totalmente imaginada por mim com base no que tinha aprendido ao construir a outra imagem.
O resultado foi esta imagem , que inicialmente era apenas a preto e branco pois ainda nao sabia usar a cor na altura, mas que mais tarde uns dez anos depois foi colorida da forma que agora vêem.
Esta imagem foi tambem a base para a criação do  mundo de fantasia presente na minha banda desenhada – As Aventuras do Principe Ziph.