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)
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 ten years his senior. Susan is a tease who plays with Mike's and other men's feelings, acting sometimes warm and affectionate and other times cold and distant. 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 Mike's 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 fantasizes about Susan and falls in love with her, even though she has a wealthy and handsome young fiancé, Chris (Christopher Sandford). Mike also discovers that Susan is cheating on her fiancé with an older, married man (Karl Michael Vogler) who was Mike's physical education teacher and works at the baths as a swimming instructor for teenage girls, touching them inappropriately. Mike begins following Susan on her dates with Chris and the instructor and trying to disrupt them. Although Susan often gets angry at Mike for this, she provides just enough encouragement to cause him to continue the behavior. For example, when Mike sits behind Susan and Chris in an adult movie and feels Susan's breast in the dark, she slaps Mike and sends Chris for the manager, but when Chris leaves, Susan kisses Mike passionately. Mike's infatuation with Susan continues despite his friends mocking him and his mother being treated rudely by Susan. He refuses other outlets for sex, such as his former girlfriend and a prostitute who offers him a discount, because all he can think about is Susan.
As Susan continues to see both Chris and the instructor, Mike's actions become increasingly violent and self-destructive. He is questioned by police after the movie theater incident, but is let go because Susan and Chris did not press charges. An angry Chris chases him, but he gets away by lying to a policeman that Chris made a pass at him. After spying on Susan having a tryst with the instructor at work, Mike hits the fire alarm, cutting his hand, causing a disturbance and making his boss angry. When Susan and the instructor ride in the instructor's car, Mike blocks the car with his bicycle; Susan drives over his bike, wrecking it.
Mike uses his first wages to follow Susan and Chris on a date to a club, which turns out to be too expensive for him to enter. While waiting outside for the couple to come out, Mike sees a life-size advertising photo cutout of a naked girl who resembles Susan and steals it. Mike later follows Susan onto the London Underground, and flies into a violent tantrum in front of other passengers when Susan teasingly refuses to tell him whether she posed for the nude photo. Mike then takes the cutout to the deserted baths after hours and swims naked with the cutout, embracing it.
The next morning, Mike disrupts a foot race that the instructor has organized and punctures the tyres of the instructor's car while Susan is driving. Susan gets mad and hits Mike, in the process losing the diamond from her new engagement ring in the snow. Anxious to find the lost diamond, Mike and Susan collect the surrounding snow in plastic bags and take it back to the closed baths to melt it and thus find the diamond. 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, in which they melt the snow. While Susan is on the phone lying to Chris about why she will be late meeting him, Mike finds the diamond and lies down naked in the dry pool with the diamond on his tongue. He teases Susan by refusing to give her the diamond until she undresses. When he has seen her naked, he gives her the diamond and she is about to leave, but reconsiders and lies down next to him. The film is unclear as to whether they make love or whether Mike is unable to perform.
Shortly thereafter, Chris telephones and Susan rushes around the pool hurriedly gathering her clothes so she can go meet Chris. Mike begs her to stay and talk to him, but Susan insists she has to leave. Meanwhile an attendant has arrived, who, unaware of the presence of Mike and Susan, opens the valve to start filling the dry pool with water. Mike becomes more insistent, chasing Susan around the rapidly filling pool, grabbing away her clothing and refusing to let her leave. As Susan tries to climb out of the pool, Mike flies into a rage and swings the large ceiling lamp at her, gashing her head and severely injuring her, and she falls (along with a tin of red paint that resembles blood) into the water of the pool. Mike embraces the dying, nude Susan underwater, just as he embraced the photo cutout.
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