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ATLANTIS

France, 1991 (MIFF 1992)

Director: Luc Besson

Three years in the making, Atlantis is Luc Besson's labour of love — a rhapsodic, exotic journey through the wonder-filled world of marine life. "I wanted Atlantis to be an underwater opera, a tribute to the sea, con­sisting only of pictures and music," says Besson. "If it contains any message at all, I hope it comes across in another way — in the pure, immediate splendour of sensation."

As much as Atlantis celebrates this silent marine world, it contains grim reminders of the ecological catastrophes that already have depleted much of this ecosphere. Atlantis was filmed in the waters of the Galapagos Islands, New Caledonia, the Seychelles, Australia's Great Barrier Reef, French Polynesia, British Columbia, Florida, the Bahamas, North Pole and the Red Sea. Here, the audience views first-hand the ecological tragedy known as deep-sea fishing and the disasters wreaked by tanker waste, nickel mining and pollution.

However, the warning is salutary. Besson also manages to uncover a treasure trove of immense value, one that directly makes humankind responsible for its own destiny.

The project evolved directly from the expe­rience of making The Big Blue. Having mas­tered the challenges of underwater photography, Besson wanted to accommodate this underwater world more centrally. As one would expect from the director of Nikitn and Subway, great attention has been paid to the visual and aural qualities. Filmed with custom-made wide-screen camera equipment and filled with musical accompaniments from Eric Sena's synthesizer score to a Maria Callas aria, it demands to be seen and heard on the big screen.

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