Deep End (film)
French film poster
|Directed by||Jerzy Skolimowski|
|Produced by||Helmut Jedele|
|Written by||Jerzy Gruza
John Moulder Brown
|Music by||Cat Stevens, Can|
|Edited by||Barry Vince|
|Distributed by||Kettledrum Films (UK 1971)
Paramount (US 1971)
BFI (UK 2011 re-release)
|Running time||90 minutes|
Deep End is a 1970 British-West German drama film directed by Jerzy Skolimowski and starring Jane Asher and John Moulder Brown. Set in London, the film focuses on the relationship between two young co-workers at a suburban bath house and swimming pool.
In 2009, Bavaria Media, a subsidiary of Bavaria Film, which co-produced the film in 1970 through its subsidiary Maran Film, began a digital restoration as part of the film's 40th anniversary, in cooperation with the British Film Institute. The restored film was re-released in UK cinemas on 6 May 2011 and was released on Blu-ray Disc and DVD on 18 July 2011 in BFI's BFI Flipside series. In March 2012 it was first shown on TV by Film4.
Mike (John Moulder Brown), a 15-year-old school leaver, finds a job in a public bath. There he is trained by his co-worker Susan (Jane Asher), a girl who is ten years his senior and invades Mike's fantasies and plays with his feelings. Working in the bathhouse turns out to involve providing services to clients of a more or less sexual nature, in exchange for a tip. For example, an older woman (Diana Dors) is sexually stimulated by pushing his head into her bosom and talking suggestively about football. Mike is confused by this and at first does not want to accept the tip he gets, but Susan tells him that these services are a normal practice, including exchange of her female clients for his male clients, whenever a client prefers the opposite sex.
Mike falls in love with Susan, and follows her in the night. Her fiancé takes her to an adult movie, and Mike follows them and takes a seat behind Susan. He touches her breasts. She plays being disturbed, and her fiancé leaves the auditorium to warn the manager, but when he is gone Susan kisses Mike, and shows being amused. Mike is pleased and relieved, but he is nevertheless questioned by the police. However, Susan and her fiancé leave without pressing charges, so the police let him go. The police now blame the manager for admitting a minor to an X-rated film. He promises to have a severe talk to the cashier, and gives the two officers a drink, which settles matters. The fiancé follows Mike to take revenge, but Mike tells a police officer, who questions the fiancé about the alleged importunity.
Subsequently Mike discovers that Susan is cheating on her fiancé with an older man who was Mike's PE teacher and works as a swimming instructor for teenage girls at the baths, who he touches inappropriately. Mike is jealous and smashes the fire alarm, cutting his hand.
After receiving his first wages Mike goes to the club Susan told she would go to with her fiancé. He has to become a member to enter, but while considering this Susan and her fiancé leave, and he quickly hides in the toilet. He hangs around in the same erotic district, eating hotdogs, and finds, in front of a strip club, a topless cardboard cut-out of a girl that may or may not be Susan. He is uncomfortable with Susan exposing herself like this and steals it; he hides in a room of a brothel, and is welcomed by a prostitute with a leg cast, who offers her services at a discount. Mike declines, after which she complains that she has already provided him her time, drink and emotions, but he leaves anyway. On the Underground he confronts Susan with the picture, but she neither confirms nor denies that it is her. He returns to the baths, where nobody is around because it is night, and swims nakedly with the picture.
Later in a park, Mike joins the PE teacher's running race and puts pieces of a broken bottle under his car's tyres, puncturing them when Susan drives over them. She discovers that Mike did this and hits him, losing the diamond from her engagement ring in the snow. Mike helps her to collect the snow where the diamond might have fallen, and they take it in plastic bags to the baths to melt it. Since the rooms are locked and the pool area has no wall sockets, Mike connects the wires of a lowered ceiling lamp to an electric kettle, and they melt the ice in the kettle at the bottom of the dry pool. Meanwhile the coach arrives, upset about the punctured tyres; Susan tells him indifferently that she lost the car keys she borrowed, and he leaves angrily.
Mike finds the diamond when Susan is on the phone with her fiancé and lies down naked in the dry pool with the diamond on his tongue. After she undresses he gives the diamond to her, after which she is about to leave, but she reconsiders and lies down next to Mike. After a while Mike says he is sorry, and Susan says that it does not matter. Meanwhile an attendant has arrived, who, unaware of the presence of Mike and Susan, fills the pool with water by opening a valve. Susan is about to leave but Mike wants her to stay, and in his rage swings the large ceiling lamp at her, severely injuring her. She falls unconscious while a tin of red paint is knocked over by the swinging lamp, mixing with Susan's blood. Mike embraces the dying Susan underwater, while both are still nude.
The film was made in around six months, from conception to completion. It was shot largely in Munich, while some exterior scenes were shot in London's Soho. "The cast were free to improvise, and were instructed to remain in character even if a take went awry."
The film received critical acclaim, with Andrew Sarris comparing it with the best of Godard, Truffaut and Polanski, while Penelope Gilliatt called it "a work of peculiar, cock-a-hoop gifts". "The consensus when it premiered at the Venice Film Festival in September 1970 was that it would have been assured of winning the Golden Lion, if only the prize-giving hadn't been suspended the previous year. " In an interview with NME in 1982, David Lynch described Deep End as "I don´t like colour movies and I can hardly think about colour. It really cheapens things for me and there´s never been a colour movie I've freaked out over except one, this thing called Deep End, which had really great art direction." 
- The Hollywood Reporter — Bavaria restoring 'Deep End'
- BFI press release, 4 April 2011: A New Digital Restoration - Deep End Retrieved 2013-04-11
- The Guardian, 1 May 2011, Deep End: pulled from the water
- Interview with David Hayles, The Times Playlist, 7–13 May 2011
- 1982 NME interview with David Lynch http://www.davidlynch.de/nmelynch.html
- Deep End at the Internet Movie Database
- Deep End at BritMovie
- Deep End at the British Film Institute's Film and TV Database
- Deep End at AllMovie
- Video from Q&A session with Jane Asher and John Moulder-Brown after first showing of the restored version, 4 May 2011 in the British Film Institute's "Explore film..." database
- Optimism Unfulfilled: Jerzy Skolimowski's Deep End and the Swinging Sixties, an article by Christopher Weedman, at Senses of Cinema
- Deep End: Ripe for Rediscovery - TCM Movie Morlocks