THE DEEP (a J!-ENT Blu-ray Disc Review)

June 29, 2009 by  

“Before films like ‘Into the Blue’, ‘The Beach’ and ‘The Island’ were made, ‘THE DEEP’ captured audiences through its magnificent aquatic cinematography back in 1977  and its suspenseful storyline.  Nearly 32 years later, the film gets its High Definition Blu-ray transfer enhancing the picture quality and the overall detail.”

Images courtesy of © Original 1977 Theatrical Version: © 1977, renewed 2005 Columbia Pictures Industries, Inc. All Rights Reserved. | Extended 1980 Version: © 1977, renewed 2005, © 1980 Columbia Pictures Industries, Inc. All Rights Reserved.


DURATION: 124 minutes

BLU-RAY DISC INFORMATION: 1080p High Definition (2:35:1), English, French, Portuguese Dolby TrueHD 5.1, Spanish 5.1.  Subtitles in English, English SDH, French, Portuguese and Spanish

COMPANY:  Columbia Pictures/Sony Pictures Home Entertainment


Release Date: July 7, 2009

Directed by Peter Yates

Based on a novel by Peter Benchley

Screenplay by Peter Benchley and Tracy Keenan Wynn

Produced by Peter Guber

Associated Produced by George Justin

Music by John Barry

Director of Photography: Christopher Challis

Edited by David Berlatsky

Casting by Jane Feinberg, Mike Fenton

Production Design by Anthony Masters

Art Direction by Jack Maxsted

Set Decoration by Vernon Dixon

Costume Design by Ron Talsky


Robert Shaw as Romer Treece

Jacqueline Bisset as Gail Berke

Nick Nolte as David Sanders

Louis Gossett Jr. as Henri Cloche

Eli Wallach as Adam Coffin

This lavish, suspense-filled film was made from Peter (Jaws) Benchley’s best-selling novel. Gail Berke (Jacqueline Bisset) and David Sanders (Nick Nolte) are on a romantic holiday in Bermuda when they come upon the sunken wreck of a WWII freighter. Near it, they find an ampule of morphine, one of tens of thousands still aboard the wrecked ship. Their discovery leads them to a Haitian drug dealer,Cloche (Louis Gossett), and an old treasure hunter, Romer Treece (Robert Shaw). With Cloche in pursuit, Gail, David and Treece try to recover the sunken treasure.

Before “The Island”, “Into the Blue” and “The Beach”, there was the 1977 underwater suspenseful thriller known as “The Deep”.

Based on the very popular novel by Peter Benchley (who wrote the popular novel “Jaws” and “The Island” which both would receive film adaptions), the suspenseful aquatic film adaption would be directed by Peter Yates (“Krull”, “Roommates” and “Bullit”) and a screenplay by Benchley and Tracy Keenan Wynn (“The Net”, “The Longest Yard” and “The Glass House”).   The film would feature the music by John Barry (“Indecent Proposal”, “Madagascar”, “The Scarlet Letter” and “Dances with Wolves”) and cinematography by Christopher Challis (“Force 10 from Navarone”, “Two for the Road” and “Top Secret!”).

The film would star Robert Shaw (“Force 10 from Navarone”, “Jaws” and “The Sting”), Jacqueline Biset (“Nip/Tuck”, “Joan of Arc”, “Bullit” and “When Time Ran Out”), Nick Nolte (“The Prince of Tides”, “Hulk” and “48 Hrs.”) and Louis Gossett Jr. (“Iron Eagle”, “Diggstown” and “Roots”).

The film revolves around a scuba diving couple, David Sanders (Nick Nolte) and Gail Berke (Jacqueline Bisset) who found the wreckage of the Goliath (a ship that sunk during World War II in Bermuda).  The two start to look at the  artifacts found and discover a medallion from 1714.  During the search at the wreckage, something has grabbed Gail and tried to pull her in but she manages to escape.

When the two return from their search, because of the belongings they found, they start to make certain locals suspicious of their actions.  With their research into the medallion going nowhere, the group enlist the help of lighthouse-keeper and treasure hunter Romer Treece (Robert Shaw).  As Sanders and Treece start to show several people an ampule brought from the wreckage, the local drug kingpin Henri Cloche (Louis Gossett, Jr.) is interested in the Goliath primarily for its morphine cargo.

Cloche kidnaps both Sanders and Treece and looks for the artifacts but fortunately for the couple, they left the belongings with Treece and are eventually let go.

While the couple and Treece have their sites set on the wreckage that the Goliath may have unearthed and finding long lost treasure, Cloche is only interested in getting the morphine from the Goliath and will do whatever it takes to get it.

The film was released in two versions with a 3-hour version featured on television.  The film on this Blu-ray is the 124 minute version.


“THE DEEP” makes its way to Blu-ray ala High Definition (2:40:1 aspect ratio) and like many recent Sony Pictures Home Entertainment releases on Blu-ray, Sony has elected to keep the film process and feature the grain than using DNR (Digital Noise Reduction) which many people have complained in the past, giving it a soft, lack of detail look.

With the release of “THE DEEP”, the transfer definitely showcases the detail of the film and vibrancy of Bermuda island with its greens and brown sand and light blue waters.    For a film that was made in 1977, the HD transfer definitely captures the era with its warm color and blacks are nice and deep.  And for a film created during its time, how it looks on Blu-ray is well done.

When “THE DEEP” opened in theaters, what caught the attention of many people was the beautiful aquatic cinematography  and of course, a certain swimming scene at the beginning featuring Jacqueline Bisset.  And this 32-year-old film looks very good on Blu!

As for the audio, audio is presented in English, French, Portuguese Dolby TrueHD 5.1 (and Spanish 5.1).  For the most part, the film is front channel driven.  There are times that you hear occasional  effects and a musical score that come alive at times.  But for the most part, I felt the audio was good for a film for its time but for the most part, the lossless track was average.  In fact, at times during the film I felt I had to increase the audio to hear the dialog.

Subtitles are presented in English, English SDH, French, Portuguese and Spanish.


“THE DEEP” comes with two special features and is BD Live Enabled.

  • The Making of the Deep – (48:41) The original 1977 featurette hosted by Robert Shaw.  Interviews with the cast and crew, we get a behind-the-scenes look at the experiences of the talent working on the film, how they had to undergo scuba training and become certified divers, how certain aquatic scenes were shot and how the Goliath and the wreckage was created.
  • Selected Scenes from the 3-Hour Special Edition – The 3-hour film may not be included on the blu-ray but at least certain segments from the 3-hour version are featured on the Blu-ray wich include:
    • Prologue – The Goliath Sinks (3:06) – How the Goliath sunk during World War II
    • Romer Treece’s Disposition – (1:06) both Dan and Gail learn a little about Romer.
    • Treece and David Harassed by Cloche’s Goons – (2:12) While scuba diving, Cloche sends a few of his men to scare both Treece and David.
    • Pillow Talk – (6:22) A longer, romantic scene between David and Gail.
    • Extended Conversation between Cloche and Treece – (3:22)  The two make an uneasy business proposition to work together.
    • Treece’s Past Revealed –  (5:19) Gail tries to learn about what happened to Treece’s wife.

    There is also a selection to watch trailers and latest releases from Sony Pictures Home Entertainment.

    The 1977 film “THE DEEP” was an interesting film at the time.  Considering that the film would showcase the Bermuda islands and the beautiful blue oceans, there was a lot of expectation from fans who were mesmerized by “JAWS” and have had hopes that they would get another equally, terrifying underwater film with “THE DEEP”.

    For the most part, there were scenes in the film that could be seen as terrifying but for the most part, the film was an adventure film that had equal portions of romantic drama, suspense and even a killer aquatic eel (which unlike “JAWS” is not the main antagonist of the film).  But many critics enjoyed the film for its showcasing underwater cinematography and for Jacqueline Bisset fans, the film was almost in a similar context of how male viewers today felt about Jessica Alba for “Into the Blue”.

    But the overall storyline for “THE DEEP” is not exactly strong and although it does manage to keep enough action and suspense to keep the viewer interested,  there are scenes that really go in depth into the characters are featured on the 3-hour version that aired on cable, it’s a bit of a disappointment that this version is not on the Blu-ray (selected scenes from the 3-hour version are featured in the special features).

    Overall, “THE DEEP” is a film that inspired many similar films thereafter and its box office success did help in the funding for Producer Peter Guber’s Academy Award winning film “MIDNIGHT EXPRESS”.  But the Blu-ray does bring out the beauty of Bermuda and features detail that overshadows the picture quality of the original DVD release.  If you are a big fan of this classic film, then definitely give “THE DEEP” a try.

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