20 diving movies you should not miss
by Jorge Mezcua on Nov 21, 2022
This selection of diving and sea related movies (and some other great documentaries) was conducted in March 2012 with the suggestions of our blog readers to win an invitation to Youzee VOD platform (which incidentally was a huge fiasco). We leave the original text about the contest and I invite you to continue proposing in the comments of this post new titles of movies and documentaries you know and are missing in the list so we can create a more than useful compilation of diving films and documentaries about the ocean. As we receive new titles we will include new synopsis and trailers in this post. Thank you!
29 of you participated in the draw for 25 invitations to enjoy one month trial of Youzee’s video service… and the 29 of you are about to receive your invitations. We thank you for creating this great list of movies related to diving and underwater life.
Thank you very much for your contributions!
1. The big blue
«The Big Blue» (Le grand bleu) was the title that has received more mentions as a preferred diving film. This film, directed by Luc Besson and released in 1988, is about the rivalry and friendship of the freediving world figure Jacques Mayol (played by Jean-Marc Barr) and Enzo Maiorca (renamed in the film as «Enzo Molinari») and interpreted by Jean Reno. Anyone who has seen it will remember the scene: “Find me Jacques Mayol, find me the french man!”
2. Finding Nemo
«Finding Nemo» is also one of those movies that have aroused interest in many for underwater life. Little Nemo is a clownfish who lives with his overprotective father in a coral reef. Nemo decides to leave the safety of the reef and embarks on an adventure in order to show the rest of species and himself his courage and ability to survive despite having an atrophied fin. His father began a long quest to find clues that lead him to recover his son. «Finding Nemo» shows many of the species that live in the coral reefs and made the clownfish an object of desire for many children and adults for their aquariums. Unfortunately, some of the viewers didn’t understand the whole idea behind Pixar’s movie and put captured clownfish and many other coral fish species that appear in the film.
3. Voyage to the bottom of the sea
This film was proposed by our friend Ramon as one that shocked him as a child. The plot of «Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea«, 1961, is unlikely: the Van Allen belt catches fire warming the Earth at a rate of two degrees per day. Admiral Nelson decides then to march with his ultra-submarine to launch a nuclear missile to stop the disaster. The crew of the atomic submarine Seaview fights against saboteurs, huge sea creatures and is attacked by enemy submarines to prevent a global catastrophe and saving mankind.
“Sanctum», a film produced by James Cameron and Mike deGruy, world renowned underwater camera and sadly died last month. It tells the story of a group of divers, led by a father and son who made an expedition to the largest cave in the world. Due to a tropical storm they will face many dangers as they seek a path that allows them to leave and save his life.
5. Men of honor
«Men of Honor» is a 2000 American film directed by George Tillman Jr., with Robert De Niro, Cuba Gooding Jr., David Conrad and Charlize Theron. The film is based on a true story about the life of Carl Brashear, a black soldier of the U.S. Navy that due to the racism is relegated to the kitchen. The character played by Cuba Gooding Jr. has an opportunity to impress an officer with his diving skills and convinces him to seek new horizons within the Navy to later become part of a training program for the elite diver’s body, becoming the first African American to do so.
6. Life Aquatic
«The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou» is a 2004 film written and directed by Wes Anderson. This movie tells the story of Steve Zissou, who wants to emulate documentarian Jacques Cousteau, but which is in clear decline in his career. Equipped only with his long experience in the field, finally gets a producer willing to invest in the making of the film that will show the sea monster that supposedly ate his best friend.
Another film written and directed by James Cameron about the diving world and where he also worked with deGruy. Abyss narrates the incident of a U.S. nuclear submarine, the USS Montana, colliding with an unidentified object and sinked to the bottom of the sea in the Cayman Trench. The Navy decided to send a mother ship, the Benthic Explorer, to the site of the sinking to retrieve or destroy all secret information. Finally they manage to find the USS Montana at great depth and have strange encounters with a creature that observes them. In this video you can see the making of this film, much more interesting than the trailer… and possibly the movie itself.
Who does not know this horror classic? The tune, that dorsal fin announcing death and blood, and the great white shark destroying ships… «Jaws», directed by Steven Spielberg 30 years ago, starting with an peaceful evening in Amity Island where a young swimmer disappears… and you can imagine who was responsible. This film has not done any favor to shark conservancy, quite the opposite. Many psychologists attribute the galeophobia, or fear of sharks, to this film.
9. Deep blue sea
«Deep blue sea», released in 2000 and starring Saffron Burrows, Thomas Jane, and Samuel L. Jackson, keeps digging in the fear of huge sharks. A scientist looking for a cure for Alzheimer’s disease experiments with three sharks with a theory that says that the shark’s brain has a complex protein complex capable of reactivating brain neurons. Given the neglect of one of the team members, the shark raises its head, creating complete chaos in the lab and accidentally released into the sea with a larger brain and an intelligence that only seeks to kill the more the better.
10. Open Water
Based on true events, «Open Water» tells the story of a workaholic couple who decides to take some time to relax and spend a few days diving. The boat that carries them, due to carelessness of the crew, leaves them in the middle of shark-infested waters… According to American criticism, the most shocking horror film shown at the Sundance Film Festival since «The Blair Witch Project», in 1999. You know, always together!
11. Into the blue
The title seems to say it all, right? Four freedivers discover a legendary shipwreck (which is rumored to contain millions of dollars in gold) and believe that their dream of finding a buried treasure has come true. But nearby, at the bottom of the ocean, lies another, more sinister, mystery. These treasure hunters make a pact to keep secret both discoveries so they can excavate the shipwreck before a rival treasure hunter finds out their secret and swipes their gold. But with so much at stake, their loyalty is tested.
12. The Cove
«The Cove» is a 2009 American documentary, directed by former National Geographic photographer Louie Psihoyos, that describes the annual killing of dolphins at a National Park at Taiji, Wakayama (Japan) from the point of view of anti-dolphin hunting activists. The film highlights that the number of dolphins killed in the Taiji dolphin hunts, is several times greater than the number of whales killed in the Antarctic, and reports that 23,000 dolphins and porpoises are killed in Japan every year by the national whaling industry.
This documentary is an ode to the beauty of our planet and a reminder of its delicate fragility. Using the sun as a guide, we set off on an exciting journey with a stop in the Arctic, to accompany a humpback whale in the 36,000 km migration to the Antarctic during which it struggles to keep her baby safe. This unforgettable journey through the seasons and the daily struggle for survival on our planet is shot with the newest HD cameras. From incredible landscapes never seen before, even the most intimate details of the lives of our beloved and elusive wild creatures.
14. Blue Planet
«Blue Planet» is a nature documentary series blessed with one of the highest budgets to date (almost 13 million euros). The series captures aspects of marine life such as reproduction, feeding and establishing relationships between them. This effort took two years of documentary footage and displays how vital strategies in the vast oceans and coastlines of our planet have developed. From the tropics to the poles, marine life presented in this series leaves no viewer indifferent however sensitivity to nature.
15. Frozen Planet
«Frozen Planet» is a BBC series where Mike deGruy also worked and that takes us to the polar regions. This documentary series is a window that Richard Attenborough and the BBC open to Earth’s frozen regions. After a first introductory chapter, the next four chapters focus on the changes that occur along the poles of the seasons: the return of the light in the spring, the explosion of life during the summer, when the sun never sets, the treacherous autumn, time of migration and sudden changes, and winter, in which only better prepared animals are able to withstand months of darkness, blizzards and freezing temperatures.
16. The silent world
«The Silent World» is probably the film for which many of us have fallen in love with the sea and its species. Co-directed in 1956 by Jacques-Yves Cousteau this documentary is the first to use underwater cinematography to show the depths of the ocean. The movie was filmed aboard the Calypso for more than two years in the Mediterranean Sea, the Persian Gulf, the Red Sea and the Indian Ocean.
Diving into the depths of the seas, «Oceans» by Jacques Perrin, explores the unknown face of the Earth, from tropical lagoons and polar icebergs to the unexplored depths where sunlight does not reach. A monumental journey to find the majestic sea creatures that we know little about and we still have a lot to discover.
«Dolphins» is a 40-minute documentary released in 2000 showing, from the coral reefs of the Bahamas to the seas of Argentinian Patagonia, how these mammals live in the wild.
19. The beach
Finally two films that are not directly related to diving but also had mentions by our participants in the contest. «The Beach» was filmed at a popular destination for scuba diving in Thailand, Phi Phi Leh… which is becoming more crowded and less idyllic as time goes by. In this film Richard searches for something real to fill with his dull life and that is what takes a young American backpacker (the main character, played by Leonardo DiCaprio), traveling to Thailand looking for adventure and new experiences.
20. Pirates of the Caribbean
«Pirates of the Caribbean» is a tetralogy of Walt Disney Pictures based on the book «On Stranger Tides» by Tim Powers. This movie describes the adventures of the fictional pirate Jack Sparrow, the blacksmith Will Turner, the aristocrat Elizabeth Swann and their clashes with the main characters of the tetralogy antagonistic: Captain Hector Barbossa, the Kraken, Davy Jones and Blackbeard and also the British Lord Cutler Beckett and James Norrington.