Sunday, July 3, 2011

Blue Water White Death (1971)

Amazing documentary on the search for great white sharks four years before the vogue of Jaws. Actually this was the film that in part inspired Jaws to be written and then turned into a movie.

The film follows a crew headed by Peter Gimble (and heir to the store fortune) as he and his crew travel the world in search of Great White Sharks. When the film was made there had only been one success at filming great whites in the wild, and that was five years earlier. (Footage from that film was used to finance this one).

Starting in South Africa Gimble and his crew headed off following the whaling ships to find the sharks that feed on the whale carcasses. Despite traveling up and down the east coast of Africa they never found any great whites.(actually the whalers talk about white sharks was not to great white but to oceanic white tip sharks.)

Moving from South Africa the crew moved to Australia where toward the very end of their trip they at last encounter great whites.

An amazing film that really should be seen in a theater or at the very least a BIG TV, this is a film that will put you in the water like no other film on the subject. Shot in very wide screen this film really gives you a sense of place and of what it's like being in amongst a school of sharks. Its not rapid cuts it's long slow takes that really put over what its like to have these eating machines swimming all around you.

Shark Week is wussy compared to whats in this film. You have to keep in mind that when this film was made we didn't have all of the learning that Jaws brought us as a result. Sharks were very much monsters of the deep, to the point that when they decided to get out of the shark cages they very much felt they were about to die.

We get to see what happens when when someone gets the bends and what you had to do in order to survive it. I mention this because in all the years I've been watching specials about ocean diving, only perhaps on Jacques Cousteau episode ever dealt with the dangers of the bends as a real thing and not an abstract danger.

Its an amazing film that is even more amazing on DVD where a commentary track and half hour documentary on the making of the film add a great deal to the experience.

This is a must see. More so if you are addicted to Shark Week---and even more so if you've burned out on Shark week, since this is the film that started it all.

Its a kick in the ass and then some.

Out on MGM DVD.

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