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In 2009, an online petition was formed in the hopes of giving THE BERMUDA DEPTHS a DVD release. The list was comprised of fans who had witnessed the made-for-TV movie as youngsters when it first premiered on ABC in early 1978 and had it stuck in their psyche for all those years. Warners heeded the call and it was released on DVD in August of that year. Now, luckily for both that fanbase and newcomers like myself, a new Blu Ray version has been released, sporting an absolutely stunning restoration and giving this tv-movie cult classic the greatest presentation possible.
THE BERMUDA DEPTHS is kind of like an oddball low budget cousin to JAWS, but in place of a shark we get a gigantic sea turtle. The threat of the creature at sea is not as intense as it is in JAWS, instead the film is more about the mysterious, ethereal history of the creature and the possible involvement it has in causing the death of the main character’s father. We also get the female energy that JAWS lacked through the character of Jennie, the adult version played by a young and stunningly beautiful Connie Sellecca.
The film begins with Magnus meeting Jennie as a kid on the beaches of Bermuda, playing in the sand and carving their names on the shell of a tiny sea turtle. Flash forward years later and a fully grown Magnus (Leigh McCloskey) recurrently sees Jennie reappear to him as an adult. We soon realize Jennie is a kind of apparition who only appears before Magnus and she is mysteriously tied to this mythical sea turtle.
The surreal subject matter of this film and the mythology it postures is its greatest strength. There is a true hypnotic quality tied to the story, the gorgeous Bermuda setting and the music. The title song “Jennie” composed by Maury Laws and sung by Claude Carmichael, has a beautiful and seductive quality that perfectly reflects the tone of this film throughout.
THE BERMUDA DEPTHS was one of the few live-action made-for-TV movies produced by Rankin and Bass, probably most well known for their animated holiday stop motion classics like THE YEAR WITHOUT A SANTA CLAUS and JACK FROST. I was surprised by a particular effect in the film which they opted to do with a kind of primitive dissolve as opposed to their specialty, stop motion. I will admit that some of the other effects in this and use of miniatures has not dated well but it doesn’t hurt the film at all and I found the craft and inclusion of them very charming.
Warner Archives continues to outdo itself with their blu-ray transfers. The picture quality in this is simply astounding with vivid colors and clarity that will be a revelation for long time fans of the film. The film is presented in Full Frame 1:33:1 but they offer a 1:85:1 Widescreen International Theatrical Version to view in the extras. I preferred the original Full Frame version but the 1:85:1 is a fine job and I hardly noticed a drop in quality.
Included as well is an audio commentary by Amanda Reyes, author of the book Are You In The House Alone?: A TV Movie Compendium 1964-1999, who is joined by Kindertrauma.com co-founder Lance Vaughan. The commentary is a lot of fun and very informative about the history of the making, release and reaction to the film over the years.
I fully grasped how this film left an indelible mark on the younger audiences of the late 70’s. It blends romance, adventure, mystery, fantasy, thriller and even horror to make for a truly unique viewing experience. THE BERMUDA DEPTHS is a nostalgia trip well worth diving into on Warner Archives new blu ray.