Reinforcing the brilliance of films beyond the Hollywood grasp, The Deep is a thrilling success from director Baltasar Kormákur (Contraband, 2012), a tribute to Icelandic fishermen, the unsung heroes of the North Atlantic Sea.
Set in the depths of one of the world’s harshest landscapes, the volcanic Westmann Islands provide the backdrop for The Deep. The monochrome effect of the black, dried lava with the white snow offers a simplistic setting for this based-on-real-life story to unfold.
It is March 1984, a deathly cold winter’s morning, and just the beginning of an ordinary day for fisherman Gulli (Ólafur Darri Ólafsson) and his crew. Setting sail into the sub-zero temperatures, the handful of men are no match for the capricious sea which, post-storm, soon leads to devastation. The brave seamen face a deadly situation they fail to overcome. Only the unlikely-hero Gulli manages the six-hour swim back to shore – only to then wash up on a poisonous lava field.
Kormákur’s direction is faultless. The feeling of unwelcome solitude, of all-consuming cold, and the emotional intensity experienced by each of the characters comes right out of the screen into the audience, leaving shivers in its wake. Ólafsson does a stellar job as Gulli, the shy 22 year-old, who with the help of a “miracle”, pushes his body to unknown limits and somehow survives the ordeal.
The name of the film certainly reflects every aspect of its content. The acting is deep and meaningful; it is clear to see Kormákur researched the story and wasn’t tempted to add any glitz or glamour. The relationships between the characters reflect the depth of a community who have had their fair share of natural disasters having lived under an active volcano.
The film carries with it such responsibility to narrate the real-life story that its success is a real triumph. The film makes other “shipwreck” tales look like mere holidays.
The Deep’s honesty, integrity and dedication to Icelandic fisherman, who every day risk their lives without a second thought, could induce a much needed flurry of recognition for other unsung heroes and their frankly amazing stories.
The Deep is released nationwide on 12th July 2013.
Watch the trailer for The Deep here: