The Deep Blue Sea  

by writer/director Terence Davies

When I first read Terence Rattigan's play The Deep Blue Sea, I was not aware of its subtext.

Superficially it is about a middle-class, middle-aged woman (Hester Collyer) who leaves her comfortable life with a High Court Judge (Sir William Collyer) to have an affair and live with an ex-fighter pilot (Freddy Page).

Her lover forgets her birthday and she tries unsuccessfully to commit suicide.

Not remarkable.

And from what point of view should the film be made?

Every character?  So that the camera becomes an omniscient narrator?


This did not seem right.

For there was a further problem—in the first act of the play it is virtually all exposition.

Which also would not do.

The solution was simple—the film must be from Hester’s point of view so that all the exposition can be removed for, when we can “show” what has happened before the film begins, we do not need to be “told.”

And what is Hester’s position?  The subtext?

It is the simplest and yet the most powerful of all human emotions—love.

Her life with her husband has been a life of culture and companionship but little physical expression. With Freddy, Hester discovers, at 40, full sexual love and she is overwhelmed by it and is prepared to surrender to it and to sacrifice everything for it.

For in love's thrall human beings are capable of the most transcendent selflessness and also of the most corrosive possessiveness.

And this is the trajectory of Hester…from ecstatic physical love through to genuine true love.  

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