There is just something about the great big oceans, that makes you feel really small and alone – that endless breadth, with the blue-green horizon out of reach. This emotion is amplified and put to great use in films.
On the big screen, the ocean becomes an unconquered territory that poses mystery, horror and excitement.
Over the years, there have been many movies where the ocean has played a crucial role. Two months ago, we saw Shailene Woodley and Sam Claflin as a young couple sent adrift at sea after a catastrophic hurricane in the film titled Adrift.
Upcoming we have The Meg (reviewed here), starring Jason Statham, about an enormous ancient shark wreaking havoc underwater and anything and anyone in its path. And soon, we’ll have Aquaman, with Jason Momoa as the, well, king of the ocean.
In The Meg‘s production notes, actor Statham said: “I have always had a fascination with the underwater world and have been scuba diving for almost 20 years. The oceans are so vast, and, rationally, I think most people have a fear of what’s down there and automatically assume the worst, especially about sharks.
“Sharks take no prisoners. A great white would put the fear of God into any swimmer, so you can only imagine what something three or four times that size would do to you. You wouldn’t want that chasing you down.”
Though we are afraid of what lies beneath, we are also drawn to the mystic of the ocean. Which is probably why movies based in, on and around the ocean are always enjoyed by audiences no matter the genre.
Here are 10 films we love that put characters right smack in the middle of the seas.
One of the most quotable quotes from this Steven Spielberg thriller is “You’re gonna need a bigger boat.” The movie is a classic simply because the ingenious way Spielberg filmed the shark and used the soundtrack to make us, the viewers, fear what’s in the water.
Plot: A great white shark with a big appetite has its eyes (and razor-teeth) on the beach-loving people.
The Abyss (1989)
Cast members Ed Harris and Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio reportedly didn’t enjoy making this film at all (Harris nearly drowned while filming an underwater scene), but this sci-fi flick remains a marvel because of how you feel claustrophobic along with the characters, the layered storyline and the-then amazing visual effects (for which it won an Oscar).
Plot: When a nuclear submarine is lost at sea, the men working at a nearby oil rig are recruited to go look for it. Oh there’s an alien aquatic species down there too.
Finding Nemo (2003)
We have never looked at fish the same way again. Pixar knows how to make us care about things like toys and cars. No surprise then they got us to care deeply about a clownfish and a forgetful blue tang named Dory.
Plot: A dad goes on a rescue mission after his son – a timid clownfish – is captured and put in an aquarium at a dentist’s office.
The film that elevated both the leading actors (Kate Winslet and Leonardo DiCaprio) as well as director James Cameron to great heights. Titanic was the No. 1 movie of all time before Avatar took over. Cameron made the Titanic tragedy both beautiful and heartfelt all at the same time.
Plot: About a gal who refuses to share, which caused her boyfriend to drown. Oh come on, you know what this movie is about.
Life Of Pi
A visual mastery, boasting of fantastic storytelling style from director Ang Lee. This film is an absorbing watch from start to finish, as it follows the journey of how Pi comes to an understanding with his fellow traveller, a tiger.
Plot: After being shipwrecked, a boy must learn how to coexist with the only other survivor, a male Bengal tiger, as they share one lifeboat together for 227 days.
The Perfect Storm (2000)
You’d think George Clooney and Mark Wahlberg in one movie is already a good thing. But the best thing about The Perfect Storm is the storm – terrifying, majestic and a great reminder of just how unpredictable nature is.
Plot: Based on real events where an intense storm puts fishermen out at sea in terrible danger.
The ocean itself is literally a character in this entertaining Disney feature. Beautifully animated, the sea looks inviting and almost friendly – as the sunlight reflects on its surface. No wonder the main protagonist is drawn towards it.
Plot: Moana sails out to the forbidden sea to try and break a curse, accompanied by a demigod and a, er, chicken.
Open Water (2003)
Nothing much happens in this movie. But watching two people bobbing on the open water for days – with sharks nearby and nothing else on the horizon – just talking and waiting, does give you the chills.
Plot: Two scuba divers are accidentally stranded in shark infested waters. Based on a true story.
Deep Blue Sea (1999)
OK. Confession time. We love this movie so much because we got to see (spoiler alert!) a shark chomp on Samuel L. Jackson while he was delivering a speech. LOL. Forget the water leaks in the story, just go with the man versus shark story and you’ll be alright.
Plot: A search for a cure to Alzheimer’s disease (using shark’s brain) has a group of scientists turning into prey, as a trio of intelligent sharks fight back.
The Poseidon Adventure (1972)
Talk about turning the world upside down. This film remains as one of the best disaster movies ever made. From the moment the cruise ship flips over, and the survivors move from one room to another to escape the rising water, the audiences held their breaths along with the characters. The film was remade in 2006, with the title Poseidon.
Plot: When an ocean liner completely capsizes after a tidal wave, a group of passengers must find a way to safety.
Special mention: 20,000 Leagues Under The Sea, Das Boot, The Shallows, Dead Calm, The Little Mermaid, In The Heart Of The Sea, Master & Commander, Pirates Of The Caribbean, Below, Waterworld, The Hunt For The Red October