Fan of free diving? Missing the blue waters and ocean depths? Dive in to some great entertainment and check out our picks of the best free diving movies to remind you of your favourite sport and inspire you for your next dive. Whether you’re after a classic 80’s free diving drama, or willing to take the plunge and watch something a bit more surrealist, there’s something for every free diving film lover on this list.
The Big Blue (1988)
Also known under its French title of Le Grand Bleu, this 80’s diving movie is loosely based on the tense and competitive friendship between renowned free divers Jacques Mayol and Enzo Maiorca. Following these friends and rivals from the 1960s to the 1980s, this tense cult diving film offers stunning visual aesthetics (famous for its use of colour) and some fabulous close-ups of the 80’s technology of the time.
This heavily fictionalised tale features some fantastic 80’s diving suits, some fascinating underwater footage and is, at its heart, a story about friendship and an undying love of the ocean. Expect to be greatly moved and entertained by incredible diving scenes and some fantastic performances from Jean Reno, Rosanna Arquette and Jean-Marc Barr.
One Breath Around the World (2019)
This calming 12 minute long underwater journey offers breathtaking visuals… One Breath Around the World gives a peaceful look at free diving legend Guillaume Néry’s journey under the waters of the world, filmed by free diver, filmmaker and Néry’s wife, Julie Gautier. Watch from a distance and take in the emptiness and openness of these underwater expanses, as well as following Néry close up, as if you’re swimming along with him… this aquatic exploration, and the latest in Néry and Gautier’s free diving film series, takes film making and free diving to new levels.
A fascinating look at underwater spaces and at how the human body moves in the calm water, One Breath Around the World is a mesmerising aquatic adventure. Watch as Néry gracefully propels himself between rocks, glides past sharks, scrambles across reefs and swims under the surface of ice. A fantastic look at light and movement, this short piece of visual art is not to be missed for lovers of diving, performance or just people wanting to watch something calming.
Another fantastic piece of work by the famous free diving film making team of Guillaume Néry and Julie Gautier is the short film, Narcose. Written and directed by Gautier, this film focuses on ideas about nitrogen narcosis, also known as ‘raptures of the deep,’ which affects all divers, most noticeably when diving deeper than 30 metres. This narcosis, varying in effect dependent on the dive and diver, produces effects on the body and mind such as creating feelings of euphoria (or adversely of anxiety,) dizziness, loss of concentration and even hallucinations, memory loss and unconsciousness – it can also sometimes prove fatal.
With this in mind, Gautier sets out to show the inner journey of a free diver, in a way that seeks to present the conflicts and chaos inflicted upon the mind of the diver by this state of narcosis. Blurring the lines between what is real and what is imagined, due to this state of ‘drunkness of the depths,’ Gautier shows us, through her surrealist short film, scenes based on her husband, Néry’s personal nitrogen narcosis experiences.
Dolphin Man (2017)
This stunning documentary about famous French free diver, Jacques Mayol, is a must-see free diving film. A highly acclaimed documentary, Dolphin Man should be on every free diving fan’s to-watch list, looking in depth at the life and legacy of the legend himself (if you watch this, you may also want to watch The Big Blue, as Jean-Marc Barr who plays him in The Big Blue, also narrates this film.)
A touching portrait of a world-famous sports figure, we meet the people closest to this record breaking free diver, and hear about the late great figure’s fascinating life through them. The first free diver to dive to 100 metres, Mayol’s achievements are remembered in this film, through the use of archive footage and interviews with other free diving champions whom he inspired.
Ocean Men: Extreme Dive (2001)
Starring Cuban free diver, Pipin Ferreras and Italian free diver, Umberto Pelizzari, this stunning documentary shows just what it is to be a free diving champion above and below the water’s surface. This inspiring documentary is a must-see film for lovers of the sport, as well as of the ocean, with some stunning underwater shots that will make you want to dive into the water that you are watching.
Ocean Men: Extreme Dives gives a fascinating glimpse into the life of a free diver, in terms of training, preparation and competitions. The addition of voiceover from these champion divers, only adds to this documentary’s inspirational message. After the history of humankind’s relationship with the sea is explored, and personal histories of these two divers are given, we’re then given a visual feast – as we watch these two free diving legends explore caverns and wrecks, and watch as they attempt record free dives. This inspiring documentary shows a free divers journey and the phenomenal amounts of strength, preparation and endurance that are needed to descend to such depths.
Top Photo Credit: Marco Assmann