The ten best films on water

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The Independent Culture

1 KNIFE IN THE WATER, Roman Polanski, 1962

An outwardly simple film, with just three characters and essentially one location, Knife in the Water is a deceptively complex psychological thriller. All of its tension is generated by the dynamic between the three characters. Overall, the film is a great example of less being more and how to grab an audience without a lot of action sequences or special effects.

2 DAS BOOT, Wolfgang Petersen, 1981

The first and only film that made me feel like I knew what it was like to live on a U-boat - the inconceivable, choking claustrophobia, the pungent air, and oh-so-many ways to die. The men who served on these vessels faced certain death. I love this film for its great sense of realism. The ocean never felt so cold and indifferent.

3 JAWS, Steven Spielberg, 1975

A great thriller with masterful direction and three fascinating and diverse characters, all brought together on a small boat for different reasons with a single purpose. Perfect performances by Scheider, Dreyfuss and Shaw, in a spectacular piece of Hollywood entertainment that created the template for the thriller genre for several decades.

4 THE BIG BLUE, Luc Besson, 1988

A look at a world, the world of free diving, that up until then, I had not known existed. The Big Blue is a celebration of the beauty and danger of a place where men are not meant to dwell. Again, it was the two lead characters and what drew them to the water that made the film work for me. It is also an aesthetically beautiful film with gorgeous cinematography.

5 FINDING NEMO, Andrew Stanton/ Lee Unkrich, 2003

A sweet, gorgeous and lush work of art that drew me in and kept me emotionally involved more than most live action dramas. Even the various ocean ecosystems are extremely accurate. Finding Nemo is very funny and very smart and a wonderful celebration of the ocean.

6 MASTER AND COMMANDER, Peter Weir, 2003

I love this for pretty much the same reasons that I love Das Boot - its incredible realism and its refusal to pander to the usual commercial clichés. Master and Commander is a brave and very realistic film. It made me feel that I knew what it would be like to live aboard such a vessel in the age of Napoleon.

7 AGUIRRE: THE WRATH OF GOD, Werner Herzog, 1972

A wonderful, gritty portrait of obsessively driven men in a desperate situation. A period piece set in the 16th-century South American jungle, it's a harrowing journey down a river, a precursor to Apocalypse Now, spectacularly shot and a look at man's blind arrogance in the face of nature.

8 APOCALYPSE NOW, Francis Ford Coppola, 1979

A surreal, nightmarish journey down river, and a slow, winding descent into madness.

9 RUN SILENT RUN DEEP, Robert Wise, 1958

Another character-driven piece about men and their clashing wills while at sea, and the best submarine movie until Das Boot came along. Wonderfully tense and a great story of men at war.

10 STEP INTO LIQUID, Dana Brown, 2003

My favourite surf movie. Awesomely beautiful photography and a celebration of a lifestyle told from the points of view of diverse peoples around the world. Totally gnarly!

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