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Fri-Sun, Apr 5-7

THE ABYSS: Special Edition

  • Dir. James Cameron
  • USA
  • 1989
  • 171 min.
  • PG-13
  • 4K DCP
  • Assistive Listening
  • Hearing Loop
THE ABYSS: Special Edition

Part of Weekend Classics

After a nuclear submarine mysteriously sinks in a remote part of the ocean floor, a team of divers on a prototype underwater oil rig are pressed into service by the U.S. Navy in a rescue attempt. When a hurricane cuts off contact between the surface and the underwater depths, the crew begin to see evidence of a strange, possibly alien intelligence at work. While Chief Bud Brigman (Ed Harris) bickers with his ex-wife and boss (Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio), the Navy commander begins to grow increasingly paranoid about the mysterious alien life and threatens to use a recovered nuclear weapon to destroy everything.

James Cameron’s long-gestating Special Edition 4K restoration, painstakingly recomposed shot by shot, represents the most complete reconstruction of the director’s initial vision. This underwater marvel represents one of Cameron’s few commercial failures, but taken today as an early example of his career-long, prescient obsession with cautionary tales about the militarization and exploitation of natural resources, it is a roaring success that begs to be rediscovered on the big screen.

“Colossally ambitious, this logistically boggling and technically brilliant film from writer-director James Cameron is a visual tour de force, featuring overall, the greatest underwater sequences ever seen on film.” —Hollywood Reporter (Aug 7, 1989)

“Stupendously exciting and emotionally engulfing... With probing intelligence and passionate feeling, Cameron has raised the adventure film very close to the level of art.” —Peter Travers, Rolling Stone

“The nightmares began underwater. THE ABYSS was made in 7.5 million gallons of water in a concrete containment tank at an abandoned nuclear power station… If the actors, director and crew of THE ABYSS did not expose themselves to nuclear contamination, that was about the only thing they avoided. James Cameron…wanted to make an underwater film without cheating. So 40 percent of THE ABYSS took place in the murky darkness of A and B tanks at the Cherokee Nuclear Power Station outside Gaffney, S. C. And no stunt divers swam in place of the actors.” —Alijean Harmetz, New York Times (Aug 6, 1989)