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  Deep, The Cruel Sea
Year: 2012
Director: Baltasar Kormákur
Stars: Ólafur Darri Ólafsson, Joi Johannsson, Stefán Hallur Stefánsson, Þröstur Leó Gunnarsson, Björn Thors, Walter Grímsson, Thora Bjorg Helga, Guðjón Pedersen, Theodór Júlíusson, María Sigurðardóttir, Stormur J.K. Baltarsarsson, Martin Halldórsson
Genre: Action, BiopicBuy from Amazon
Rating:  6 (from 1 vote)
Review: 1984 in the Westman Islands off the coast of Iceland where the chief industry is fishing, and Gulli (Ólafur Darri Ólafsson) is one of those fishermen, indeed there's not much else to his life but working on the boats, no matter that he would like to settle down with a good woman like his best friend Palli (Joi Johansson) has, now the father of two young boys. But if he cannot find romance, there's always the bottle, and he as with many of his countrymen likes a drink which he is after tonight as he visits a nightclub. There's one woman he has his eye on, but manages to ruin his chances with her before they've had any opportunity when a fight breaks out and he gets steamed into it to rescue his friends…

Such was the existence of Gulli, an unremarkable man made remarkable by extreme circumstances. The Deep, or Djúpið as it was called in the original Icelandic, was not to be confused with the Peter Benchley-Jacqueline Bisset in a wet T-shirt adventure from the nineteen-seventies, as this was a far more serious proposition. It was drawn from actual events that made headlines across the world and made the man Gulli was based on famous in his native Iceland, and all thanks to his feat of endurance that appeared to be a one in a million occurrence. If you had heard of him before, you would more than likely be well aware of what awaited him when he ventured out into the North Atlantic that morning.

And it wasn't a pleasure cruise, that was certain; the dedication at the end was to Iceland's fishermen, but that could go for any nation's fishermen since you imagine they face the same dangers across the world, though by no means all of them wind up as Gulli did. So what happened? He was on the boat with his colleagues when its net was snagged in the rocks on the sea bed, and as a result it capsized, plunging the crew into freezing waters - there are captions throughout stating the temperature in Fahrenheit both below and above the waves, in case you were in any doubt of how cold it was. Tragically, all the fishermen succumbed to the conditions and sank to the bottom of the ocean.

Well, not all, or there wouldn't be a story for the rest of the ninety minutes, for against enormous odds Gulli was still alive in the water after everyone else had expired. Some called it a miracle, and he wasn't going to deny that, though whether there was a divine intervention of a sort was left up to the audience to decide: for a start, you would have thought a merciful God would have saved the lot of them instead of just one. On the other hand, the fact that one was saved at all was cause for welcome, along with an incredulity for that really did happen, and he wasn't picked up by a passing trawler either, nor did a helicopter pluck him out of the sea since they had no time to send out an emergency signal to the coastguard.

Nope, what Gulli did was swim to shore, having no option other than simply float in the sea until he died, and the fact he was still alive after everyone else was not was reason enough to persevere with his survival. This central section, taking up most of the movie, was by far the strongest as what came before and after was a little superfluous dramatically, detailing as it did the protagonist's humdrum days before and the attention after his ordeal, where scientists tried to make sense of how he had endured and could only think it was because he was overweight and the extra fat had protected him much as a seal is protected. So really you watched this for the sea-based sequences, as Gulli drags himself in such harsh circumstances that the mere act of watching this puts a chill through to your bones, so you can imagine how horrendous it must have been to experience; director Baltasar Kolmákur went on to direct the international hit Everest on the strength of this, and he handled the harrowing scenes very well. Music by Daniel Barnason and Ben Frost.
Reviewer: Graeme Clark

 

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