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The Abyss (1989)

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A civilian diving team is enlisted to search for a lost nuclear submarine and face danger while encountering an alien aquatic species.

Director:

James Cameron

Writer:

James Cameron
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Popularity
1,606 ( 616)
Won 1 Oscar. Another 8 wins & 15 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Ed Harris ... Bud Brigman
Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio ... Lindsey Brigman
Michael Biehn ... Lt. Coffey
Leo Burmester ... Catfish De Vries
Todd Graff ... Alan 'Hippy' Carnes
John Bedford Lloyd ... Jammer Willis
J.C. Quinn ... 'Sonny' Dawson
Kimberly Scott ... Lisa 'One Night' Standing
Captain Kidd Brewer Jr. ... Lew Finler (as Capt. Kidd Brewer Jr.)
George Robert Klek George Robert Klek ... Wilhite
Christopher Murphy ... Schoenick
Adam Nelson ... Ensign Monk
Dick Warlock ... Dwight Perry (as Richard Warlock)
Jimmie Ray Weeks ... Leland McBride
J. Kenneth Campbell ... DeMarco
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Storyline

Formerly married petroleum engineers who still have some issues to work out. They are drafted to assist a gung-ho Navy SEAL with a top-secret recovery operation: a nuclear sub has been ambushed and sunk, under mysterious circumstances, in some of the deepest waters on Earth. Written by Jwelch5742

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Taglines:

Believe your eyes. See more »


Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated PG-13 for language and some scenes of action | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

9 August 1989 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Abyss See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$70,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend USA:

$9,319,797, 13 August 1989, Wide Release

Gross USA:

$54,461,047

Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

$90,000,098
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

| (special edition)

Sound Mix:

70 mm 6-Track (70 mm prints)| Dolby (35 mm prints)

Color:

Color

Aspect Ratio:

2.39 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

James Cameron: [Biehn's hand] Michael Biehn's character gets bitten on the arm by another character - see The Terminator (1984) and Aliens (1986). See more »

Goofs

When Lindsay is developing film after coming back from the downed sub, she hangs up rolls of 35mm film which is all black even around the sprocket holes. This means that the entire film has been exposed to light i.e. not through a camera and so is black and and blank. Yet she has taken the film out of the camera, even if she took photos of total blackness there would be frame numbers etc. visible on the edges of the film. See more »

Quotes

[first lines]
USS Montana Captain: Sixty knots? No way, Barnes. The Reds don't have anything that fast.
See more »

Crazy Credits

The opening 20th Century Fox logo doesn't have the usual fanfare, only the sound of sonar pings in the background. See more »

Alternate Versions

The airline version of "The Abyss" was supervised by Cameron himself and runs 118 minutes. Since you can't show a vehicle crashing in a movie shown on an airplane, all of the opening scenes of the submarine incident had to be removed and the title sequence changed (the airline version begins with shots of helicopters landing at the rig). The same version has been used for network TV showings. See more »


Soundtracks

WILLING
Written by Lowell George
Performed by Linda Ronstadt
Courtesy of CEMA Special Markets and Capitol Records, Inc.
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

 
Epic original sci-fi adventure with a lot of heart, action, suspense, and brains
5 July 2005 | by mstomasoSee all my reviews

The Abyss is one of my all-time favorite sci-fi films. It mixes hard science with abject fantasy to make moral and philosophical points about the human condition and our place in the universe without the usual clichés. And it does so with good dialog, strong characterization, and intensely emotional acting. Harris and Mastrantonio are absolutely electric together and dominate the screen, but the entire cast deserves plenty of credit. The production itself is mesmerizing despite its vast scale and tastefully used special effects. The film is long, but worth every second of the experience, and the slightly lengthier, more detailed Special Edition version is even better than the original.

Ostensibly, this is a film about first contact with non-terrestrial intelligence. But the story allegorically deals with an amazing array of themes common to great dramas - violence, love, capitalism, war, courage and cowardice. The hardest, most obedient soldier in the film, played spectacularly by Michael Biehn, is a coward, and a man who is hopelessly in love with his estranged wife (Harris) turns that love into an act of suicidal heroism which might unintentionally save the world. And yet nothing is exactly as it seems to be, and there are really no spoilers in this review. There are so many subtle and sensitively developed themes in this film that it is hard to imagine a more epically human drama in the sci-fi genre. Even so, this is a film which entertains at every level, and will satisfy the action fan as much as the wannabe film critic. ;-)

Most of the film takes place on an experimental submarine drilling platform owned by a petroleum company. A nuclear sub has been lost in "the abyss" - a subduction trench near the Caiman Islands - after encountering an impossibly fast object. Soon, the US military commandeers the platform and its command ship - The Benthic Explorer - to attempt a rescue mission. As everything begins to go wrong, and the encounters with strange phenomena continue, the Navy SEAL in charge of the rescue attempt begins to crack. Meanwhile, on the surface, accusations concerning the sub are escalating between the USSR and USA, and nuclear war seems immanent. This describes just a small segment of the deliciously complex plot that unfolds in The Abyss. You'll have to see it to enjoy the rest.


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