40 years of hollywood blockbusters : the Abyss (1989)

The movie sci-fi cult James Cameron returns Sunday night on Arte.

In 2015, we devote a folder to hollywood blockbusters that have marked their era. We benefit from television coverage of these classics of american cinema to reshare articles on a case-by-case basis. Today, zoom on the Abyss, James Cameron, who will return tomorrow evening on the 7th string.

Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio : but that became the star of Scarface and the Abyss ?

While the Superman of Richard Donner kept proudly his title of “film the most expensive ever made” for nearly a decade, two films of the year 88, Roger Rabbit and Rambo 3, were spraying a few weeks of intervals on this record. Both involved in the hollywood industry a fever of inflation, which never really calmed down since. It is very logical that in the summer following, 89, therefore, will be that of all records – both in terms of input, but especially from the point of view of the merchandising against hystero and promo aggressive. The Batmania delirious who tumbles then on the world is the symbol of the most causing, arousing among some critics and viewers French cravings of an armed struggle against this spectacular cultural invasion yankee.

Between early June and late August, a pack of behemoths will battle it out on the battlefield of the cash drawer. Few victims are to be deplored. Batman is a huge hit, and it does not surprise anyone, just as the success highly predictable of Indy 3, lethal Weapon 2 and Ghostbusters 2. The industry seems to have understood what then asks the people : of sequels and adaptations of comics. The pattern still holds. The only film major to break the mouth at the thought of summer is also the only project “original” of the lot, a reverie underwater shot by a young guy of 35 years, The Abyss from James Cameron.

A fistful of dollars close, the Abyss is not quite the most expensive film of all time (which will be the case of ALL the following works of the author), but, instead, is the project the most expensive of the season. Problem : even merdouilles super cheaps such as The Fir tree in The Balls with Chevy Chase or Pewter women with Dolly Parton will eventually make a lot more money that the gesture of the cinema herculean Cameron.

Why you should not miss the long version of Abyss, Sunday night on Arte

In the opinion of all the shoot was a living hell, the post-production was even worse. As if it had not been enough to spend four months, and twelve hour days, the face submerged in a gigantic studio/pool reeking of chlorine and muddles, Cameron also set out to revolutionize the art then in its infancy-in digital effects. From a logistical point of view, Abyss is one of the film’s most ambitious ever conceived. A point of view of cinema, too. Necessarily all this at a price. The one for which Cameron must pay will be cut nearly 45 minutes of footage, to arrive at the term of the contract, required by the suits of the Fox, 2H20. His third act morfle dirtily.

In the state in the Abyss is a wonderful film that is both highly dramatic and an infinite gentleness, but also unsatisfactory (the missing scenes to see with the naked eye and the presence of aliens can only be justified from a point of view purely symbolic, failing to be cast in the framework of the single story). Above all, it is a blockbuster, completely to the margin of its time, which requires of its audience a certain intellectual and emotional involvement, and chooses wonder smug monochrome to the hysterical shrieking of the board comics. A film from an era that was already gone, but rotated with the cutting-edge tools. The only moment in Cameron’s career where he has not taken with an accuracy maddening pulse of his audience.

The long version would rebalance a little later the few arrhythmias of the film, to fill the gaping holes of the script, sculptera with much greater accuracy the shape of the secondary characters (notably that of Michael There, yay!), but in the end, ultra express and let go of her poetry is minimalist, will be a problem – even if it will discover the extraordinary plans of the tsunami stopped the net before their surge. By any end, and how fitting, how you look at it, Abyss is still a sort of eternal work-in-progress who has never found his stride (ouarf, ouarf) while enquillant the intensity and the moment of grace and absolute. A film of which we do not know too much if you love them in spite of or because of its flaws, a work as delicate as monumental, a partition that it replays in our head with a measure consistently different. Not a movie, better than that, a memory. Certainly not a blockbuster in any case.

One day, the journalist François Cognard wrote: “For me, tout of Cameron lies in the Abyss. This man will build the largest forges of the universe to finally come out a butterfly of glass. It was a few years before the release of Titanic. It has never been read since something as just on the film and also prophetic on its director. The career of the greatest writer of blockbusters contemporaries was alive and well here.

François Grelet

Also read :

40 years of hollywood blockbusters : Titanic (1997)

40 years of hollywood blockbusters : Avatar (2009)