Blue Water White Death (1971)


Cast: Peter Gimbel, Ron Taylor, Valerie Taylor (as themselves).

Rating: G

Run time: 99 mins

Genre: Documentary

Verdict: Beautiful (see rating system)

I knew exactly what I was going to do after watching this groundbreaking documentary on the Great White shark...

Yeah, that's right - watch Steven Spielberg's Jaws all over again.

This 1971 documentary, Peter Benchley's bestseller Jaws and Spielberg's 1975 movie version of Benchley's book came so close together that they had a collective impact on the psyche of millions of people who suddenly became afraid to go in the water!

There's another link between this documentary and Jaws - expert dive photographers Ron and Valerie Taylor worked on both projects and the underwater scenes of a real shark in Jaws attacking the cage containing Richard Dreyfuss (well, a stand-in anyway), were filmed by the couple.

Blue Water White Death actually did pretty well in a theatrical release, taking around $5 million US, a tidy sum in those days. Jaws later became the first movie to gross more than $100 million so obviously people loved being terrified by sharks

The late wealthy adventurer Peter Gimble led the team that made Blue Water White Death on a 12,000 mile sea voyage that took six months. They found plenty of other sharks - some of the scenes of dozens of them bumping into the courageous divers are incredible - but the search for a real-life Jaws was long and frustrating.

Finally, after searching the waters around South Africa, Ceylon and Madagascar, the team met their monster at Dangerous Reef, Australia. The 12 footer didn't disappoint, biting the aluminium bars of the dive cages and making the surface boil as he thrashed around in search of the bait the crew left out to attract him.

The stunning footage still looks great in the newly mastered edition - hard to believe this film is nearly 40 years old. While Gimbel tragically died of cancer at age 59 in 1987, much of the rest of his team were present at a recent reunion included on an extra feature on this disc.



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