In 1988, Luc Besson moved to the top of international cinema with his film “Le Grand Bleu”. A personal film, an ode to freedom and the sea, he directs Jean-Marc Barr and Jean Reno in the memorable roles of two rival freedivers. If Jean Reno will work again with Luc Besson, in particular for “Léon”, it is quite the opposite for Jean-Marc Barr who refuses in block the heritage of the film and takes the absolute opposite of this kind of cinema.
The big Blue, story of a cult film
Jean-Marc Barr is for eternity associated with the great film of Luc Besson The big Blue. This ambitious international production, released in 1988, first received a very cold reception from the public and the press when it was presented at the Cannes Film Festival. But when it was released in French theaters, the reviews were better and it found its audience with more than 9 million admissions. From there, the myth is running. And if he does not immediately find success abroad, The big Blue quickly gains its cult film status and great movie from the 80s.
A great success for Luc Besson, perhaps his most personal film, this film which stars Jean Reno and Jean-Marc Barr concentrates all the elements of the Besson recipe for success: in particular music by Eric Serra, a narration based on the succession of striking sequences – coherence and temporality then being secondary, the famous opening tracking shot, charismatic and touching characters.
A darling film of a whole generation, it is for Jean-Marc Barr a very important stage in his career but nevertheless an experience to be forgotten. If this film revealed him to the whole world, he himself experienced a contradictory revelation that kept him away forever on the path traced by the film.
The refusal to become a “masturbatory” icon
Indeed, Jean-Marc Barr does not like The big Blue, and he never really liked it. No bitterness or retrospective regrets, but an almost immediate rejection of the popularity of the film and especially of its character. He plays Jacques Mayol, a great French freediver whose rivalry with the Italian Enzo Maiorca was famous. The latter is played by Jean Reno in the film by Luc Besson – and renamed for the occasion Enzo Molinari. Jean-Marc Barr was not the director’s first choice, this one desiring first Christophe Lambert, then Gérard Lanvin, then again Mel Gibson. Before finally finding the 28-year-old Franco-American actor, and still unknown to the general public.
It must be said that the beauty of Jean-Marc Barr is then obvious, sculptural, of a purity which goes perfectly with the naive or even autistic character of the character of the film. Magnetic, hypnotic, without having to say a word, Jean-Marc Barr is sublimated by the staging of Luc Besson. Unknown, and despite the film’s first international failure, he became a world star. Rather than putting the foot in the stirrup of the great celebrity, it will unsettle him.
Completely overwhelmed by his sudden popularity, Jean-Marc Barr becomes the object of all envy. Phantasmal object, ideal mannequin, Rosanna Arquette slayer in the film, he can become a leading glamor icon. He immediately refuses to do so, entirely rejecting this creation of an icon desired by Luc Besson. In the actor’s own words, reported in the book “Luc Besson: the man who wanted to be loved. The unauthorized biography“(Flammarion, 2016), he therefore rejects this film
which propelled him into an icon and object of masturbation for young girls.
During our meeting with Jean-Marc Barr for the film The Human Particle (see below), the actor had welcomed us to his friend and collaborator Pascal Arnold, in the heart of Paris. A cramped apartment in which Jean-Marc Barr had casually displayed his few travel items. As he said, he liked to live like that, without unnecessary possessions or that would tie him to a specific place. No apartment, no car, no credit, he is quite the opposite of many of his brothers and sisters who have experienced success and invested it in material wealth. Jean-Marc Barr is looking for another wealth, and he notices it right out of the film The big Blue.
Too high, too early? Seen previously in King david and The Seven Year War, the change of status does not go to the actor. In addition to refusing this new identity of superstar and glamorous icon, Jean-Marc Barr will also regret the portrait of Jacques Mayol that the film makes. Overall, he finds that the film even betrays the philosophy of life and the practice of freediving according to Jacques Mayol, even offering a journalist this definition of Besson’s film: “this is the story of a confused guy who transferred his …