Of Fiction, Preambles and Explorations of The Abyss

The Abyss, the deep-sea epic renowned for its pioneering digital water effects and sophisticated underwater photography and sound recording, will be screened at a special 20th anniversary event by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences on Tuesday, June 23, at 7:30 p.m. at the Linwood Dunn Theater in Hollywood.  This screening will premiere a newly struck 35mm print from the Academy Film Archive.Pictured: A scene from THE ABYSS, 1989.

Pictured: A scene from THE ABYSS, 1989.

The Abyss.

IMDb states that this movie is about, “a civilian team enlisted to search for a lost nuclear submarine and face danger while encountering an aquatic species”.

Up until two weeks ago, I’ve never seen this film, which is strange considering I consider myself the rancor of all sci-fi: a collection of claws and fangs designed to devour every sci-fi material in existence.

My association with The Abyss, however, is unforgettable, and it goes back to my older sister.

My older sister was the absolute Queen of my childhood. Every word she spoke was sacred and holy. So much so that once, she convinced me worms were a delicacy in other countries, and only the rich and elite could eat them. In fact, eating them while they were still alive was considered a culinary experience in England.

“But won’t they get hurt?” I asked, panicking.

No. Worms are special in that they don’t have the skin that humans do. Therefore, they can’t feel.

Of course this led to an instant, uncontrollable urge to demolish as many worms as I could get my hands on. It wasn’t until my sister told me she was kidding, after seven sacrificial worms, did I even realize something was amiss.

With that preamble in hand, I can begin the story of The Abyss, which started when my sister went to our local Blockbuster by herself.

She returned with a smile on her face and The Abyss at the palm of her hand.

She claimed that an impossibly handsome guy (with glasses) came up to her to ask if she had seen the movie yet. A delightful, witty conversation then ensued. It was a short exchange, but enough to deliver the argument that my sister was beautiful and that somebody noticed.

For the rest of my life I would look at this anecdote with envy, making it the basis for every male encounter in the future. A charming, opening line—a delightful response emitted by I, ending with a common interest to jumpstart a relationship: a movie watched by both parties one cool evening, wrapped in blankets, legs curled on top of each other; dissecting and analyzing it to pieces, with characters they could relate to and plots that reflected each other’s lives.

As the years passed, the glory of my sister began to fade. We lived the rest of our lives as separate as two strangers who were once sisters, could live.

Until two weeks ago, when I decided to sit down in my apartment and watch The Abyss.

Halfway through the film, I realized my sister’s preamble for The Abyss was just that—a story: designed to awe and marvel—to delight an eight-year-old with spontaneous romance. And I, a willing audience member, succumbed to her fiction as gullibly as I devoured those worms.

Key point? Because I wanted to.

I guess the eight-year-old me knew it was better to adore someone unconditionally, than to lose faith in all your childhood heroes.