Some of the drowning scenes with Ed Harris and Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio were very intense. Very quiet and atmospheric. Ed Harris was especially good.
But man, what a mess. What was with the tacked-on SciFi alien storyline? It was like Into Thin Air suddenly became Star Trek, complete with immensely powerful superbeings who hold the fate of humanity in their tentacles, if only (if ONLY) the human race proves ultimately to be worthy.
I liked The Abyss. It had some silly parts, mostly with the aliens. They were basically a plot device to get the characters and especially the SEAL team to be freaked out and paranoid, and get all the characters juiced up about the lost sub and the nukes therein. It was really well-crafted as far as it went. Ed Harris’ character went through some interesting changes, as did MEM (“queen bitch of the universe”, and I am not looking up the spelling of her name at this hour).
It’s a good story ruined by politics. In the original story, the aliens do their thing because humanity is on the brink of a nuclear war. They hover in the air and perform various feats of applied phlebotinum to say, basically “knock it off or we’ll fucking end you”.
During the making of the movie, glasnost broke out and the whole cold war thing got old. So they cut all that stuff down and left what you saw. I still think it’s a great movie and I love the watersnake, made before every director in the universe fell in love with that particular CGI effect, but I can see how it’s confusing.
Just when you start thinking, “You know, perhaps I shouldn’t even have posted this thread,” BAM, somebody responds.
There were a lot of things I loved about the movie. That scene where MEM has drowned (on purpose) in the freezing water, followed by the very intense resuscitation scene, was really almost difficult to watch.
I actually read that book (Orson Scott Card) as well. It went into quite a bit of detail that was hinted at in the movie. The parts I appreciated was more backstory on the characters, especially where Michael Biehn’s character was fleshed out, and you felt much more sympathetic to him, where in the movie he was a basically a jarhead that went psycho.
“YOU NEVER BACKED AWAY FROM ANYTHING IN YOUR LIFE!! NOW FIGHT!!”
Okay, even with that sequence I like the first 90% of the film. That silly deus ex machina ending (made even worse and extra preachy by the “director’s cut”) hurts the movie quite a bit but the rest is pretty good.
I agree. It’s one of my favorites, and the book really is even better than the movie. As sqeegee said, it gives you the three lead characters’ back stories. Card wrote the book while the movie was being filmed, so the actors and director were aware of the back stories and could incorporate them.
I want to know why Mastrantonio’s character had to drown at all. I felt sure when I first saw it, that she and Ed Harris were going to “buddy breathe” their way back to the habitat. Having her drown seemed like an extreme way out of the situation. Is there some reason they couldn’t have shared the regulator?
As for why the aliens were there – they weren’t “tacked on”. The film was SF from the start. I’d love it if Cameron were still making science fiction films, which he seems to be one of the few people capable of doing really well (despite all the problems I have with The Abyss), but there seems to be more money and/or respectability in making mainstream anymore.
And even if they couldn’t share, it always seemed to me that she should have tried to swim as far as she could and if she drowned on the way he could drag her back and try to recussitate. They way they did it - waiting for her to drown before even beginning to start back was stupid.
I read something awhile back about MEM being so upset about that scene that she wouldn’t participate in filming any of the extra stuff for the DVD release. The shot is actually more intense if you watch the full screen version. This is one of those movies that have the top and bottom cropped for the widescreen version (except for the SFX scenes) and in the fullscreen version you can see more of MEM getting pounded on and her top ripped open - pretty dramatic.
They didn’t have a regulator, did they? Wasn’t it a diving helmet that clamped on to the rest of the suit?
I remember seeing it at the theater, and seeing the scene where Ed Harris’s character is going down the the mile high cliff just felt SO oppressive on the big screen. The thought of all that water pressing down on him really freaked me out.
That’s my recollection. I’ve been unsuccessfully trying to google up an image of the dive gear from the film. The closest I could come was the movie poster, which clearly shows that there’s some sort of bulky helmet on the dive suit, which I’d guess wasn’t very shareable.
It seems I remember when the movie was being made they talked about the specially designed helmets which would allow us to see more of the actors’ faces.
I think it’s an extremely exciting movie and I’ve always loved it. The longer version makes more sense than the chopped down one and really, I think the aliens are terrific! An underwater sci-fi film? I’m THERE. It’s an extra-fun twist on aliens usually set in space to have them underwater. The kids and I love it, right up there with The Fifth Element. And O Brother Where Art Thou. We have eclectic tastes.
I love the line form The Abyss where MEM talks about the difficulties involved in being a cast-iron bitch. “It takes work, dedication, and years of practice.” Something to that effect.
I guess, under the huge amount of pressure that these divers are supposed to be working in regularly, that a mouth held breathing device would be subjected to the same pressure/forces (assuming that it was exposed to sea pressure), and would break your teeth.
I think that more to the point, the water was freezing, and the dry suits (or whatever the correct term is) allowed them to work in the water for extended periods. IIRC, several times in the movie it was passingly emphasized that the water was pretty chilly (Ed Harris free swimming from one hatch to another, and he comes up in the tank bay obviously shivering).
When the movie was being made, Fox literally came and shut down production because it had gone so far over budget and time. The editing was done very quickly and the ending really wasn’t done.
So the theatrical version has a pretty bad ending.
But in some ways, I prefer it because I don’t think if the ‘land people’ were threatened in any way by the ‘water people’ the land people wouldn’t not ‘knock it off’ but band together to attack the water people.
No, it wouldn’t break your teeth. The rig workers were at equilibrium with the ambient pressure (hence why there are open pools and the discussion of “three weeks decompression on the way up.”) The use of drysuits is because of the extreme cold of the water. One moderate (but cinematically understandable) technical gaff in the film is that they should be using a heliox or trimix atmosphere at those depths to avoid oxtox and nitrogen narcosis, which will affect vocal tones the same way breathing helium from a balloon will; however, it would be impossible for the audience to take the serious drama of the film seriously when all of the characters sound like Alvin and the Chipmunks.
Personally, I turn off the film after Ed Harris types, “Going to stay a while…Dont cry baby. Knew this was one way ticket, but you know I had to come. Love you wife.” You know that everybody is going to die, but he’s prevented nuclear catastrophe. I don’t mind the alien subplot, but the way it ended was a pure deus ex machina that undermines Virgil’s sacrifice and the hazard that the rest of the rig is in. Before that, it was a brilliant movie.