Waterworld is a 1995 post-apocalyptic science fiction film. The film stars Kevin Costner who also produced it. Waterworld was released in the United States on July 28, 1995.
Problems encountered during filming led to massive budget overrun, and it held the dubious distinction of being the most expensive film ever made at the time. Some critics dubbed it "Fishtar" and "Kevin's Gate" (references to the notorious flops Ishtar and Heaven's Gate). With a budget of $175 million, the film grossed $88 million at the U.S. box office, and was initially considered to be one of the biggest flops ever made. However, the film was successful overseas. Expressed in 2005 dollars (USD), the budget for the movie was $229 million, and grossed $115.3 million at the U.S. box office and $229.9 million at the foreign box office. Film studios typically receive only 55% of gross revenues, and these figures do not include promotional costs, or rental and broadcast revenues.
Some time in the future, the polar ice caps have melted, due to a shift in the Earth's axis, and the Earth is almost entirely covered with water. Surviving humans have forgotten the past; their creation belief is that the world was created in a deluge. So entrenched is this view that any other is regarded as blasphemy. There is, however, a common folk-belief amongst the various peoples that Dryland exists, though opinions on its physical properties vary greatly.
The surviving peoples can be classified into four groups:
Drifters, individualistic loners who ply the water in small boats, collecting things and trading with one another as well as with atolls;
Atoll Dwellers, who live in large floating constructs called atolls (in the movie, pronounced 'A-toll'). These are not to be confused with the natural coral formations of the same name.
Smokers are pirates who inhabit abandoned oil tankers. They are called such because of the smoke they make by using oil-powered equipment, such as jetskis; they all smoke tobacco, and consider cigarettes one of the most valuable treasures to be stolen. Smokers also dismiss the concept of evolution.
Slavers are mentioned in the movie but not shown. Their name and the fear that they inspire suggest that they kidnap, enslave, and trade in people.
The antihero is a drifter (Kevin Costner), who arrives at an Atoll to trade his dirt Ã¢â‚¬â€ a highly prized rarity. For most of the film, he has no name, though some refer to him as "the Mariner." He is a genetic mutant, with webbed feet (which does occur in people) and gills (which do not). He also appears to have amplified reflexes and hand-eye coordination, along with a "sixth sense", and natural mechanical ability.
The Atollers propose a deal with the Mariner: if he agrees to stay a short time Ã¢â‚¬â€ just long enough to impregnate one of their women (so as to help avoid the inbreeding prevalent in their society) Ã¢â‚¬â€ they will let him go with all the supplies he needs. However, the Mariner refuses their offer: he is clearly uncomfortable among the many people and claustrophobic surroundings of the Atoll. Angered, the Atoll's leaders have him arrested, using the excuse that he may be a spy for the Smokers. During the struggle that ensues, they are horrified to discover his mutant features; fearing him, they condemn him to be "recycled" in the Atoll's septic midden.
As they prepare to "recycle" the Mariner, however, the Smokers arrive in a raid, bringing with them a M45 Quadmount to destroy the Atoll. Their leader is the Deacon, who is the "captain" of a derelict oil tanker, the Exxon Valdez (nicknamed "the 'Deez"). They are in search of a young girl living on the atoll named Enola, who appears to have a map to Dryland tattooed on her back; one of their spies, a man who was spurned by the Mariner at the atoll, had advised them of her presence there. (The shorter theatrical version of the film does not explain how Enola acquired the tattoo, nor how she arrived at the Atoll.) An outcast in the society of the Atoll, Enola lives with her caretaker, Helen, a woman in her twenties or thirties. Helen and Enola plan to escape with Gregor (the Atoll's resident astrologer/engineer) in search of Dryland because, like the Mariner, they don't fit in.
Unfortunately, Gregor's escape balloon is accidentally released too early (with him on it), leaving Helen and Enola stranded on the Atoll as the Smokers overrun it. They release the Mariner, after they force him to agree to take them with him, and escape on his large trimaran. To create a diversion, they turn the Quadmount on the Deacon's boat, destroying the craft and causing the Deacon to lose an eye. Despite being rescued from certain death, the Mariner is displeased to have companions on his vessel, even after Helen offers to make love with him in exchange for protection. The Deacon, looking now for both revenge and Dryland, has a number of skirmishes with the Mariner in his attempts to get Enola back. A mad drifter is also taken aboard the Mariner's ship for trading. The drifter wants to trade paper for Helen (presumably for sexual reasons) and also asks for Enola, with the excuse of wanting somebody to talk to (also presumably for sexual reasons, saying "Forty-five minutes with the wee one; I like to do the talkin' if you know what I'm saying."). The Mariner temporarily agrees only to trade Helen, and the drifter goes below deck with Helen and tries to encourage her to have sex with him. However, the Mariner intervenes and the drifter draws a knife, telling Helen 'this won't take a minute.' The fight is not shown onscreen, but banging and frequent swearing are heard after which the drifter appears with blood on his knife. It is soon revealed that the Mariner has used a blade to slice down the drifter's spine, which results in his death. The Mariner disposes of his body in the ocean.
Helen, meanwhile, having reasoned that the Mariner must know where Dryland is, demands to see it. The Mariner, who can breathe underwater (due to his gills), puts her in a diving bell made out of plastic and swims down to a sunken city (actually the city of Denver) to show her. As they are inspecting the sunken city, the Smokers locate and board the Mariner's vessel; when the Mariner and Helen return to the surface, the Smokers capture them. The Deacon grills the Mariner and Helen regarding the whereabouts of Enola, who is obviously still somewhere aboard the ship, but the pair refuse to provide the Deacon with any assistance; this momentarily stuns the Deacon, who has never been refused information before. The Deacon pretends to have killed the Mariner and Helen by firing a gun into the sky, which scares Enola out of hiding so that she is captured by the Smokers. The Deacon has his crew burn the Mariner's vessel (which later attracts Gregor and to the location) and shoot at the pair, but they escape by diving deeper than the bullets can reach. Since Helen cannot breathe underwater, the Mariner offers to "breathe for the both of us," which results in a prolonged kiss of life while bullets rain down around them.
Helen and the Mariner grow hopeless, just as Gregor appears in his flying machine, telling them it was "good thinking" to burn the boat. Gregor then takes the pair to the beginnings of a new Atoll where several other survivors of the Smoker attack at the film's beginning have begun to rebuild. Here, the Mariner announces his intention to rescue Enola, as Helen tries and fails to convince anyone to help him.
The Mariner chases down the Exxon Valdez on a stolen jetski and boards it. Celebrating the find of "the map to Dryland", the Deacon rewards his crew by tossing them handfuls of (mostly broken) cigarettes from his car, which is driven up and down the deck of the ship, and later cans of "Smeat" from the ship's sterncastle. Unfortunately, neither the Deacon nor his crew has any idea how to read the map; based largely on the shape of the area of Dryland, the Deacon believes that the area indicated must be Japan. The arguments that ensue illustrate that the Deacon's hold on power is precarious and that he needs the promise of Dryland to keep himself in power. Further conversations indicate that the supply of oil in the 'Deez is running low, threatening the Deacon's hold on power. After a stirring speech Ã¢â‚¬â€ in which the Deacon manages to persuade the crew that he knows what he's doing Ã¢â‚¬â€ the crew begins to row the immense ship with huge oars, in the style of a Viking longship. (Since nobody aboard can read the map, they begin rowing without setting a course.)
After cutting a murderous swath through the bowels of the ship, the Mariner walks out onto the now-empty deck and threatens to throw a flare down into the oil holds unless the Deacon returns Enola. The Deacon ignores Enola's warning that the Mariner never bluffs, and refuses, telling the Mariner that he would be crazy to blow up the ship. The Mariner responds by dropping the flare into the oil hold. The flare ignites the remaining oil, consuming the 'Deez in a massive explosion.
As the crew of the 'Deez run for their lives, the Mariner manages to recapture Enola and escape the ship. They float at sea for a while and then engage in one last battle with the Deacon (who survived the blast) before being rescued by Gregor, who has joined with several other castaways and drifters in search of a place to start anew. En route to finding Enola and the Mariner, they found Helen, who has joined their quest. Gregor finally figures out the map Ã¢â‚¬â€ after the Mariner comments that the Earth's magnetic poles have reversed Ã¢â‚¬â€ and steers his balloon off in the direction of what does, in fact, turn out to be Dryland (Mount Everest (not mentioned in the original version of the film but revealed in the extended cut). Gregor, Enola, Helen and the others start civilization anew on the island. The Mariner, uncomfortable on dry land, builds a boat and sails away, back to his old life Ã¢â‚¬â€ but before he leaves, Helen gives him a proper name "from an ancient myth": Ulysses. A warrior who journeys away but eventually returns home.
The movie was intended to have a cost of approximately $100 million, but a series of transportation problems (since the movie was shot in the ocean off Kahoolawe, Hawaii), bad weather, sea-sickness from some of the cast, as well as a mysterious accident (in which one of the atolls came loose, killed a marine and crushed a number of boats) caused the budget to soar. Also adding to the multi-million-dollar budget was Kevin Costner's expensive seaside bungalow at an exclusive Hawaiian resort. All this made it the most expensive movie as of that time.
The film begins with a variation on the Universal Studios globe logo, which then shows the continents on the globe logo slowly being covered by water.
The underwater city the Mariner shows Helen is actually Denver, Colorado. A sunken nuclear submarine and a ski-hill lift are visible in the underwater city.
The aircraft in the movie was a Helio Courier (H-295 model). The aircraft actually towed one water-skier in the movie, and the other skiers were superimposed in. Because of excessive drag, the aircraft could not attain more than a few hundred feet of altitude. In the scene where the Mariner hooks a grappling hook to the floats, the aircraft accidentally crashed, and an aircraft shop in Carlsbad, CA, had to provide another aircraft for the studio, which delayed filming. The plane was sold back to the fabricator, and is still in the paint-scheme of the movie. It was painted to appear rusted and in bad repair, but it is in fact in airworthy condition.
The movie received rather mixed reviews, but audiences were shocked by the film's lavish $175 million budget. It earned $88 million in the US, but managed to recover its budget abroad. It was considered one of the biggest flops of 1995.
An editing decision removed the revelation that when the Mariner, Helen, and Enola arrive on Mount Everest, they find a shack with the skeletons of a man and a woman. Also in the dwelling are tattoo implements, dyes, and designs that match Enola's tattoo. In the extended version, these people are revealed to be Enola's parents; thus explaining why she had the tattoo of the location. Unfortunately, while explaining that, it left open why people on "dryland" would need to make such a map, and how Enola survived and got to Helen without anyone knowing about her link to Dryland in the first place. In the edited theatrical version, Gregor suggests that Enola's parents knew they were dying. It is left to assumption that they tattooed the map on Enola so she could find her way back if she survived the basket-float.
In March 1998, Waterworld was shown on U.S. network television for the first time. The ABC network held a special two-night event of Waterworld, which included an extended version of the film Ã¢â‚¬â€ Universal and Kevin Costner took the film from director Kevin Reynolds's hands during post-production, and edited it down to the theatrical length of 133 minutes. This version added approximately 40 minutes of deleted scenes, including the Mount Everest ending, and thereby returning at least some of Reynolds's intended vision. Some, but not all, scenes were edited due to swearing, violence, gore, nudity, and "indecent exposure" (the scene where the Mariner is urinating into a cup).
This same extended version was shown on the SciFi network on June 21, 2007.
A Hydro Addict is trying to trade his hair for fresh Hydro. There are other people banging on the gates trying to get into the Atoll.
A scene that reveals that the two skeletons found in the shack near the end of the movie are indeed the girl's parents, instead of just letting the audience guess it.
Scenes that show the Mariner building the new boat he uses to leave the island at the end of the movie.
The Mariner is also given the name Ulysses by Helen.
Helen and Enola standing atop the cliff watching the Mariner depart before the film's end credits. As they are standing there, they uncover a plaque which tells us that they are at the peak of Mount Everest.
Cut Scenes Restored for VHS, DVD, and TV
These are scenes which were re-inserted and edited back into the film for the VHS and DVD versions (as opposed to simply being compiled together in a separate "deleted scenes" or "special features" area) and appeared on most television airings.
After the Mariner's capture at the Atoll, the inhabitants of the Atoll examine his belongings. Among them, they find a Thighmaster, which they think is a torture device; a yo-yo, which they believe is an assassin's weapon used to strangle people; and a clarinet, which they think is used as a spy's listening device. This is also where the Atoll decides to dump the Mariner into the Recycling Pit.
A scene that explains where exactly the Mariner got the jet-ski he uses to reach the Deacon's ship to rescue Enola. The survivors of the Atoll massacre are ambushed by two of the Deacon's men on jet-skis; the Mariner kills both men, and takes their weapons and one of the jet-ski craft.
At least 10 minutes worth of new scenes that further detail life aboard the Deacon's ship, including how they obtain their cigarettes and other equipment.
A scene that shows how Gregor managed to find Helen and the Mariner after their boat was burned down.
Waterworld video games were made for the SEGA Genesis, Super Nintendo Entertainment System, and Nintendo Virtual Boy video game systems. The one made for SEGA Genesis was released in Europe. The Super Nintendo Entertainment System version was released only in Europe. A Nintendo Virtual Boy version was released worldwide, but the game and system are rare. There were also Waterworld computer games produced for MS-DOS and Windows.
A novelization of the film was also published to coincide with the release of the film. The ending epilogue of the book revealed that the Mariner's boat was attacked by pirates a few months later, and that he drifted back to Dryland where he decided to stay with Helen and Enola.
The tanker is revealed to be the Exxon Valdez, famous for the largest oil spill in Alaskan history (see Exxon Valdez oil spill, March 24, 1989). In fact, the Captain (Joseph Hazelwood) is referred to as "Old St. Joe" by the Deacon. In real history, the Valdez was renamed the Sea River Mediterranean, and was still in service (in the Atlantic) at the time of the movie's release.
In Ultimate Spider-Man #98, Reed Richards makes water from his own urine, saying he got the idea from Waterworld.
In The Simpsons, Milhouse plays Waterworld in the arcade. He has to put 40 quarters into the machine, and when the Mariner steps once, it says Game Over.
The film is mentioned (and heralded) by Jim Carrey's character in The Cable Guy, with him repeating the line "Dry land is not a myth; I've seen it," followed by his questioning as to why moviegoers and critics found it awful, as he had seen it himself six times.
An episode of "The Fairly OddParents" features Timmy Turner painting the backdrop for the musical production of Waterworld.
In an interview with Sam Donaldson, Ali G mistook Waterworld for Watergate.
Even if all ice sheets and glaciers melted due to global warming, the oceans would only rise between 63-75 meters and would not be sufficient to cover the entire land surface of the Earth given its present-day hypsography.
If there were enough water locked up in ice caps, water vapour in the atmosphere, and stored in the soils to cause such flooding as depicted in the film, the water from the melting ice caps would dilute the salt water in the seas to the point where it would become drinkable, if it were possible for the oceans to rise so high (28,000 feet/8,800 metres). This would negate the need for desalinization.
In the extended version, a plaque is shown to them at the end of the movie, revealing that they are standing at the top of Mount Everest. While it is not possible for water levels to have risen so high, it is still plausible for the air there to be breathable. Air pressure at sea level does not noticeably change as sea level varies. Even an unrealistic rise in sea level of 5 miles would decrease sea level air pressure by only around 0.25%.
The concept of a map showing the location of dry land would have been nonsensical, given the literal lack of landmarks. Instead, the tattoo references "dry land" via coordinates in latitude and longitude, written in some variant of Chinese (as Gregor was able to interpret it with a China Airlines route map, and plotted his route using a sextant).
Everyone on the tanker smokes, and cigarettes are considered a very valuable commodity. The presence of cigarettes in this setting is, however, extremely implausible, as most cigarettes have a shelf life of no longer than a few months, which would not be enough time for Earth's surviving population to forget that dry land ever existed.
It is also implausible that there are still so many functioning machines, given the length of time suggested between the melting of the icecaps and the beginning of the story. Additionally, though the store of oil is shown, no refinery is shown.
The Mariner's "mutations", specifically his fish-like gills that allow him to apparently "breathe" ocean water, are extremely unlikely. Even mammals that live underwater, like whales and dolphins, did not evolve gills. It is not possible for a warm-blooded creature to supply itself with enough oxygen using only small gills. Beyond that, the plausibility of developing an entirely new respiratory system without any larger gene pool having the same trait is also questionable.
"Sea level" in Waterworld is apparently about 28,000 feet, seeing as the peak of Mount Everest is negligably higher than water level. This means the total area of dry land on Earth would be scarcely larger than an acre or two in Nepal and China (Tibet). Furthermore, the Mariner apparently dives under the ocean to Denver (elevation: 5,280 feet), which is implausible considering he would have to dive over 23,000 feet and withstand the ensuing pressure.
One of the workers on the tanker is an old man who floats in a small boat on the surface of the oil in the hold, presumably as a "level monitor" to keep the Deacon informed about the level of the oil. Any human attempting to do this would not be able to withstand breathing the hydrocarbon vapors that would be present in the airspace above the oil, and thus would become very sick or die.
At the end of the film, Helen offer a flower to the two skeletons in a spontaneous gesture. It is very unlikely that she could have acquired such a custom if she had never seen a flower.
The two Universal Studios Theme Parks in Universal City, California and Osaka, Japan feature a "Waterworld" stunt show among their most popular attractions. The shows include numerous stunts and special effects, including water bike jumps, high dives, pyrotechnic and gas-flame explosions, and a free-falling seaplane "crashing" through the Atoll wall into the stage's lagoon. The script weaves the movie's music with a sequel plot that begins with Helen's return to the Atoll to show the way to Dryland. Helen is closely pursued and captured by the Deacon and then rescued by the Mariner after a battle. At Halloween Horror Nights 2006, it was changed at night to Slaughterworld, feature blood, gore, and R-rated humor.