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The Private, Exclusive Guide for Serious Divers Since 1975
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April 2020    Download the Entire Issue (PDF) Available to the Public Vol. 46, No. 4   RSS Feed for Undercurrent Issues
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Movies for Divers Stuck at Home

from the April, 2020 issue of Undercurrent   Subscribe Now

While you are self-isolating at home, why not watch one of these classic movies that feature scuba diving? We've selected some of our favorites, not necessarily because they are factually correct, but because they are entertaining. Let's stay isolated and let the health authorities beat this crisis without being overloaded unnecessarily. Enjoy.

Beneath 12-Mile Reef (1953) The oldest movie on our list, starring a youthful Robert Wagner and Terry Moore, and filmed in the Florida Keys, it's an American Technicolor adventure film directed by Robert D. Webb. The screenplay by A.I. Bezzerides was inspired by Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet. The film was the third motion picture ever made in CinemaScope. It may look dated, but it's amusing nevertheless.

Thunderball (1965). Who could forget the underwater action scenes which are played out through much of the latter half of this film or the moment when Sean Connery came close to getting bitten by a shark? Many of us have dived the Bond film sets that still lie conveniently off the coast of New Providence in the Bahamas, although the Vulcan Bomber is now nothing more than an underwater jungle gym.

Blue Water White Death (1971) Peter Gimble's classic documentary with Ron and Valerie Taylor and Undercurrent's favorite veteran cameraman, Stan Waterman, should not be missed. It's a documentary featuring Oceanic Whitetips and Great White sharks shot in the days when they were thought to be voracious and undiscerning man-killers.

JAWS (1975) Spielberg's movie that set back shark conservation by years, loosely based on Jersey Shore shark attacks of 1916, is still entertaining. Peter Benchley told me years later he could not have written the novel JAWS by the beginning of this century, but that a shark makes a perfect villain in a movie because it cannot follow you upstairs to your bed once you turn off your TV. Take it with a pinch of salt.

The Deep (1977) Marvel at how long Nick Nolte appears to be able to hold his breath. Enjoy the sight of Jacqueline Bisset in a wet T-shirt. Wonder how Robert Shaw survived being swallowed by JAWS in that movie the year before. It's a great cinematic romp with underwater footage shot by the three famous underwater cameramen; Stan Waterman, Chuck Nicklin, and Al Giddings.

Open Water (2003) Inspired by the real-life 1988 mysterious loss of the Lonergans from the dive boat Outer Edge, the heroes are accidentally left behind due to an inaccurate headcount and find themselves struggling for survival in shark-infested waters. It's every diver's nightmare, but it's fascinating to watch and has become something of a cult movie.

Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou (2004) Starring Bill Murray playing Steve Zissou (a parody of Jacques Cousteau), an oceanographer with a plan to exact revenge on a mythical shark that killed his partner. Everyone who watches this comedy will want to wear a red woolly hat afterward. Cate Blanchett adds the glamor. Thoroughly recommended for light relief during these testing times.

Sharkwater (2006) The first documentary film written and directed by the late Canadian, Rob Stewart. Helping to protect sharks, changing government policy, and inspiring the creation of shark conservation groups, this movie is considered one of conservation's success stories, resulting in shark finning being banned in some parts of the world. In the film, Stewart filmed current attitudes about sharks, and how shark-hunting industries are driving them to extinction.

Sanctum (2011) James Cameron's brother-in-law, John Garvin, used to run a technical diving center in the Turks & Caicos islands, so when he had this idea for a film, it got produced. Inspired by co-writer Andrew Wight's experience during a 1988 cave diving expedition in Australia, it tells of a group of divers trapped by rising waters from a storm. One of the stunt divers, Agnes Milowka, later tragically died in similar circumstances that paralleled the script.

Sharkwater Extinction (2018) Completed after he was tragically killed diving in Florida, Rob Stewart's sequel to his first documentary is a thrilling action adventure journey that follows the filmmaker as he exposes the billion-dollar illegal shark fin industry and the political corruption behind it. From West Africa, Spain, Panama, Costa Rica, and France, to California, this movie dives into the often violent underworld of the pirate fishing trade (info from Rotten Tomatoes).

Other movies to consider, (not always for their factual accuracy): Black Water Gold (1970), JAWS 2 (1978), The Abyss (1989), The Living Sea (1995), Into the Blue (2005), Fool's Gold (2008), Nature's Oceans (2009), Dark Tide (2012), Diving Into The Unknown (2016), 47 Meters Down (2017), Chasing Coral (2017) and Last Breath (2018).

- John Bantin

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