- A minor cult classic of doomed romance 7/16/2000 12:00:00 AM by TVholic
SPOILER: Those of us old enough to remember the ABC Movies of the Week in the '70s remember more than a few science fiction, horror and fantasy pickings. Among them were "The Stranger Within," "Satan's Triangle," "The Last Dinosaur" and Irwin Allen's "The Time Travelers." On a cold, dark winter night of January 27, 1978, Rankin and Bass -- best known for their cheerful Christmas stop-motion cartoons -- took us on a two-hour trip to tropical climes with "Bermuda Depths," featuring lush locations filmed in where else but Bermuda.
In recent years, I obtained first a poor-quality copy of the movie and later the DVD. The first time I played it was with some trepidation. Would it be better left in the past? After watching it, I'm still ambivalent. It was good to see it again, but some parts were definitely B-movie quality, something an older but not necessarily wiser me finds less easy to forgive than 22 years ago.
This movie was an uneasy blend of science fiction and mystical fantasy. It appears the writers couldn't decide on which kind of movie to do. Sometimes, it's a supernatural story with the devil's servant - a gigantic turtle with glowing eyes - and a forever young "imaginary friend" who only appears to men about to drown or to be lost at sea. Then it turns around and both can be wounded by nothing more than spear-guns and harpoons. If only the writers had chosen one or the other, it would have been a stronger story.
One can't help but note the similarities with 1984's "Splash." A young man returns to a place of happiness from his youth. He finds a mysterious young woman, also with ties to his past, who is far more than she appears. Determined to ferret out the truth is an obsessed researcher. The biggest difference is that this story has the kind of ending Hollywood would never allow today. Not a single character is left happy. Not even bittersweet. "Rudolph, the Red-nosed Reindeer," this wasn't.
The main musical theme was a delicate, somewhat melancholy piece composed by one of the masters, Antonio Vivaldi. It's the Largo movement from the Concerto for Lute, 2 Violins and Basso Continuo in D Major. Vivaldi composed in the early 18th century, the time of Jennie Hanniver. The Concerto also made several appearances in Georges Delerue's Academy Award-winning score for 1979's "A Little Romance." The first three minutes, an extended flashback to Magnus' days as a boy on the island, were the highlight of the movie as the lyrical concerto wended its way through scenes of childhood innocence.
The special effects were dead ringers for ones from Japanese "kaiju" giant monster movies, complete with blatant miniatures in the water tank shots. The giant turtle even looked a lot like Gamera in some shots. This is understandable as the effects actually were done in Japan, as with the previous Rankin/Bass monster effort, "The Last Dinosaur."
The young leads did what they could, but were hampered by their inexperience and the material. This introduced a lissome Connie Selleca. Leigh McCloskey fared somewhat less well as his character's motivations were never really clear. Nor was it ever explained why Jennie appeared to Magnus twice - first as a little girl and later as an adult - when he was not about to drown or be lost at sea either time, as the legend demanded.
A single U.S. production run of the videocassette was done in the '80s. With no promotion from the company, most of the tapes went into video rental stores. It took decades, but at long last, Warner is offering a manufactured on demand DVD with some decent picture quality. It's not perfect, but certainly no worse than our TV reception back in 1978.
- Haunting definitely seems to be "the" word to describe The Bermuda Depths! 12/25/2004 12:00:00 AM by jaxmetal
This movie had a very profound effect upon my brother and I. We saw it in 1979 when I was 11 years old, and my brother was 7. I spent the next 20 years trying to tell people about the movie with the "Giant Turtle". Virtually nobody knew what I was talking about, and they thought I was nuts - but I knew that both my brother and I had seen it.
I caught part of the end of it in the late 1980's, probably on WGN or TBS late at night, and actually called one of my friends and made him turn it on, because he thought I was making the movie up. So there was another person to verify it's existence! LOL!
I wish that this movie would be released on DVD; I found it every bit as haunting as the 1974 film GARGOLYES. (Which I just happened to get today for Christmas on DVD! Thank God my Brother understands and loves these old movies as much as I do! Thanks Bro!!)
All I can say is, this Movie Rocks. IF it's on and you have to go to work, call in sick! If they won't let you have off -then Quit! Jobs are available all day long, "The Berumuda Depths" isn't!
- An odd chapter for Rankin/Bass 12/14/2003 12:00:00 AM by Wizard-8
Not many people know that animation studio Rankin/Bass made a few stabs into live-action productions. This may be their best known, if only because (especially evident in these user comments) so many people remember it from their childhoods! I can see why, since there are some haunting images and scenes (like the long opening where hardly a word is spoken), skillful use of classical music, themes of loss and despair, and a decidingly un-Hollywood ending. Though watching the movie with the eyes of an adult, its flaws become clear - unbelievably cheesy special effects, plot elements that are murky or underbaked, and characters doing/saying things that are laughable at times. All the same, the movie still has some magic to it, and when you watch it you can see the makings of a truly enchanting buried under mediocre production. It probably deserves a DVD release - I'm certain a lot of people would buy it to relive their childhoods! - but since the majority of the Rankin/Bass catalog today seems to be under the control of Warner Brothers (who are clueless about releasing older movies on DVD), it will probably never happen.
- Stunned 6/15/2007 12:00:00 AM by burlyd114
I am absolutely shocked at how may kids of the 70's this movie has stuck with after all these years! Like everyone else, I was 7 or 8 and never forgot this movie. I've mentioned it in passing several times and always got a crazy look. A movie about sea turtles? I thought I was the only one who remembered the giant sea turtle movie, or maybe I dreamed up the whole thing. Should I ever have the opportunity to see this horribly wonderful movie again, I'm sure I'll ask myself what the amazement with the movie was about in the first place. I'd LOVE to see it again - along with Lucan the wolf boy. Make sure you sign the petition at the website listed in a previous comment!
- Ditto 4/21/2005 12:00:00 AM by cgrog
What I mean is ditto to every other comment on this board. It is remarkable how this film resonates to those that saw it as a child. For me it was the turtle and the music, as well as the melancholy nature of the story. At 9 years old I was very into music and into turtles (and other reptiles). What first drew me to the film was the turtle as I had had several pet turtles as a child. My current one at the time was a wood turtle named Dimitri. I loved that turtle and the idea in the film of the turtle having extraordinary powers was appealing to me. As I watched, however, I became further entranced by the music. In fact that's what prompted my Google search this evening. I was listening to Julian Bream's recording of Vivaldi's lute concerto in D and had one of those childhood flashbacks. As a result of watching the movie, this piece of music, my love for my turtle, and the haunting nature of the story became fused into one.
I recall that I was affected by the melancholic aspect of the story. Later this deepened even further because, unbeknown st to me, my pet turtle was suffering from a disease at the time (my parents didn't want to tell me) and soon died. To my 9 year-old heart Vivaldi's concerto became Dimitri's theme, one that I would always remember him by.
As I moved into my teens I became hardened and the only other time I saw the movie I dismissed it as being cheesy. Of course I was actually in denial, not only about the loss of my little childhood friend but also about feeling emotion in general. Many years later I have reconnected with my inner child and am no longer ashamed of my less-than-cool feelings. My interests haven't changed much. I am currently working on a PhD in music and still enjoy reptiles as a hobby. Perhaps this cheesy B movie revealed something deeper about myself than anyone would give it credit for.