My junior year in college was an intense period. I was living far from home for the first time, working hard to feel comfortable in my own skin, and with the recent birth of the Internet and movie-related chat rooms, beginning to discover my voice. Most of all, I was thoroughly burnt out on school. It never once occurred to me that I could just leave, until the night I saw The Big Blue, the movie that inspired me to be bold.
I watched the 1988 Luc Besson film (the French version) on VHS in my Colorado dorm room. By the end credits I had decided to drop out of school; five months later I was living in Los Angeles. It was the first independent adult decision I ever made. I’ve made a few more since then but none have required as much courage.
The movie revolves around a competitive free diver whose obsessive yearning for the ocean’s depths consumes him, quite literally. He knows in his heart where he truly belongs and nothing is going to stop him from getting there, no matter how crazy or foolish he might seem to other people. Does it get more angst-ridden than that?
I had known for a while that I would move to LA after school. It was love at first sight during a visit the year earlier. In LA, everyone’s obsessed with movies; in fact, knowing ridiculous amounts of random information about movies and TV is normal in LA. I was finally among my people! Having tasted that, it was difficult living back in reality.
The Big Blue triggered an emotional eruption of the highest magnitude and brought me to the threshold of the single greatest – and scariest – decision of my life. For my mother (a teacher), this is the worst thing I could do. Knowing it would devastate her, I did it anyway because I knew it was the right decision for me. In the end, it strengthened our bond and brought our relationship to a whole other level.
There have been other movies, songs, books, and stories that have inspired, motivated, and impassioned me. Of all things, 28 Days (Sandra Bullock rehab dramedy, not the Danny Boyle zombie movie) inspired me to leave LA four years later to live closer to my mom. But nothing else has been as impactful. Beyond inspiration, The Big Blue changed my life.
The Big Blue (Le Grand Bleu), directed by Luc Besson, stars Jean-Marc Barr, Jean Reno, and Rosanna Arquette.