Originally released in 1989, James Cameron’s The Abyss is noteworthy for several reasons. First, its computer-generated visuals were groundbreaking, and would not only win a “Best Visual Effects” Oscar, but would also serve as the basis for Cameron’s next film, 1991’s Terminator 2: Judgment Day. More (in)famously, The Abyss had a torturous production that, among other things, involved shooting underwater scenes at an uncompleted nuclear power plant, which took an immense physical and emotional toll on the cast and crew. Both of the film’s leads — Ed Harris and Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio — would later disown the film due to the stress of making it.
The resulting film, however, is a sci-fi classic driven by stunning effects, an incredible sense of realism, a deeply felt humanism, and a real sense of wonder. It’s one of the few films, along with such notable titles as Blade Runner and The Hunt for Red October, that I can watch pretty much any time. It’s a comfort film for me, which is ironic because it was obviously anything but comfortable to make.
Earlier this week, James Cameron announced that the “Special Edition” of The Abyss has been remastered in 4K and will be screening in theaters for just one day, on December 6. The “Special Edition” restores nearly 30 minutes that had been cut from the movie’s theatrical release, and dramatically changes the ending by really driving home Cameron’s concerns about nuclear war and aggression. Presumably, a Blu-ray release of the 4K remaster will be scheduled some time next year.
On a related note, December is shaping up to be a really great month for movies. In addition to The Abyss, Godzilla Minus One and Hayao Miyazaki’s The Boy and the Heron will also be in theaters that month.