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2 reviews, 3 user ratings

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Weight of Water, The
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by Erik Childress

"From The Diary of Kathryn Bigelow"
3 stars

After the release of the criminally underappreciated 1995 sci-fi actioner, Strange Days, it would have come as no surprise to anyone if director Kathryn Bigelow was ostracized from Hollywood, never to be heard from again. It’s tough enough being a female director, even if you are making action films (a guy guy’s genre), but when a $60 million investment is lost on a film that got dumped by the public, I don’t care how many films one has made with a cultish second life on video, the money has to be made in the first run. It took several years for Bigelow to get her next project off the ground and its taken even longer to make it to theaters. The following are excerpts from Bigelow’s (alleged) diary.

October 9, 1995 – Jesus Christ! They’re never going to let me work in this town again. It took me five years just to build a special friggin’ camera for this movie and the damn thing only opens to $3.65 million. Good Lord! I just know that bastard (James) Cameron had something to do with this. He gave me that script and set me up for a fall. There is always a price for doing what you want and I guess that price was my marriage. Serves me right for writing into the divorce settlement that Jim would produce three of my films.

November 30, 1995 - $7,918,562. Final gross for Strange Days. I’m so done.

May 30, 1996 – I’ve shaken hands with fellow director Luc Besson who made La Femme Nikita and The Professional to make a film about Joan of Arc called “Company of Angels.” There’s no way I’m letting that shifty Cameron near this project. The deal with Besson gives him a fee, a credit and a say in casting. I really like that Claire Danes from My So-Called Life, but Luc says he may have someone better in mind. I won’t allow myself to get screwed on this one.

March 23, 199811 OSCARS!!! That damn film of his won 11 OSCARS!!! It took you three hours to sink that damn ship. OK, even I’ll admit it was cool and really well made, but Irwin Allen did it in the first ten minutes of Poseidon Adventure. You’re not that special and certainly aren’t the “KING OF THE WORLD!!!” What number wife are you on now?

June 8, 1998 – I’ve filed a breach of contract suit against Luc Besson today over the friggin’ Joan of Arc movie. That FAT FRENCH-FRIED FUCK actually wanted me to cast his model girlfriend, Milla Jovovich, as Joan of Arc. MILLA JOVOVICH! Like a model can act – I would NEVER cast a model! Not that the skinny little waif couldn’t give a boner to guys who probably love my movies in the first place, but do I really want a theater full of blue-balled erections watching some model who can’t act go Braveheart while talking to God? My company spent more than 10 years developing that thing and two months before we were going to film, Besson backed out with my financing. Now, he’s going to make it himself with that twat. I hope it gets savaged.

September 13, 1999 – I’ll show everyone. No action. No feminist macho mumbo-jumbo. If Cameron can make an Oscar-winner then dammit, so can I. I’m in Nova Scotia right now and am about to start working on The Weight of Water. I’ve got Sean Penn, Catherine McCormack from Braveheart, Elizabeth Hurley, a wonderful young actress named Sarah Polley and this guy named Josh Lucas who hasn’t done much but I suspect will go on to big things. It’s the story of a photographer on holiday investigating a centuries-old double-murder, a real-life one. See Jim, you’re not the only one who can take a historical event and put your own spin on it. Yes, its based on Anita Shreve’s best-selling novel, but still.

The murders took place in 1873. A witness to the crime, Maren Hontvedt (Polley) was covered in blood and identified the killer as Louis Wagner (Ciaran Hinds), a former border at her home. Jean, the photographer (McCormack) in present day believes there may be more to the story though. She’s also in a loveless marriage with pretentious poet, Thomas (Sean Penn), much the same way that Maren was, doing nothing but chores and appeasing her husband in the basest of ways. On a weekend trip to New Hampshire with Thomas’ brother, Rich (Lucas), Jean suspects Thomas may have something on the side with Rich’s girl, Adaline (Hurley).

Parallels. That’s where it’s at. The past and the present coming together. At least that’s what I’m trying to do. I think there’s some kind of parallel here. Hidden passions. Better to keep silent than to break the bond. At least, that’s what it says in the script.

November 12, 1999 – OK, I don’t know if this whole parallel thing is working. Maybe I can make it work in the editing room. Then again, maybe no one will care. This may even put the art crowd to sleep. I’m going to spruce up this ending a little more. Give the action fans a little something to go home with. Sort of a White Squall meets Message in a Bottle kind of ending. On another note, Besson’s Joan of Arc movie opened today and is getting ripped big time by the critics. I heard some critic calling himself “Erik the Movieman” on the radio say that Jovovich gave the “worst lead female performance he’s ever seen.”

January 2, 2000 – Principal photography has more than wrapped. It’s a new year. If I’ve accomplished anything with this film, I’ll at least have given the public a smattering of what it must be like to spend a weekend with Sean Penn. Lots of drinking, poetry quoting and blank stares.

February 14, 2000 – So, I’m working on the editing today. Adrian Biddle did a helluva job with the cinematography. It looks gorgeous. Sarah Polley has given a great performance and the rest of the cast acquits themselves quite well, but I think I missed something here. Maybe I should take out all the modern day stuff as its not nearly as interesting the 19th century predicament. All the best stuff is there with Polley. You can tell how repressed and unsatisfied she is, but I didn’t really leave much of a mystery that she’s the actual murderer. I’m sorry, (alleged) murderer. Not much I can do to fix that in post. I’ll put back in that scene where McCormack tells everyone that she thinks Polley is the murderess. That’ll do it. Then everyone will understand that this isn’t about the mystery, but about buried passions and parallels. But where is the parallel? I still don’t have a parallel.

March 31, 2000 – We’re trying to make the cut of films for the Cannes Film Festival this year. I also cut a 20-minute trailer trying to secure a distributor for the film.

June 16, 2000 – I reached a settlement with Frenchy Besson on Thursday. I didn’t get the $2 million I sued for and while I probably shouldn’t disclose anything in a diary, (who knows who may be reading it someday), I can say that I’m satisfied with that aspect. Besson and Jovovich divorced not long ago and their movie, The Messenger: Joan of Arc, also bombed at the box office taking in only $14,131,298, which even by inflation standards is almost twice as much as “Strange Days” made. What kind of world are we living in?

September 15, 2000LIONS GATE PICKED US UP! I couldn't ask for a better domestic distributor than Lions Gate for “Weight of Water.” Mark Urman and Tom Ortenberg expressed tremendous passion and commitment for the film. Quite frankly, I feel it is an honor that they chose “Weight of Water” to add to their prestigious slate. There’s even an official website for the film up at “”.

We premiered at the Toronto Film Festival on Friday. Thank God that Lions Gate picked us up before they started hearing some of the mixed reviews coming out of the fest. Some are calling it nothing more than an artsy Red Shoe Diaries or late-night Skinemax flick. Watching the film with a crowd and hearing some of the whispers, one can step back from it and experience it on a different level. Like the fact that Sarah Polley’s character seems to get turned on only around dormant bodies. Did I include some kind of erotic necrophilia parallel that I wasn’t aware of? Not to mention the obsession with her brother. And why did the location of the murders have to be called “Smuttynose Island”. Sounds like some long lost Monty Python film.

September 22, 2000 – The film is going to be the opening night gala at the Atlantic Film Festival and is going to screen at the London Film Festival in November. Still no word on a theatrical release though.

February 19, 2001 – While I continue to hear about when The Weight of Water gets released, I’ve started to film K-19: The Widowmaker. This thing is a lock. I’m going back to my action roots. It’s a big-budget submarine picture with only one of the biggest box office stars in the world, Harrison Ford, starring. I’ve also got Liam Neeson. Maybe that’s where I went wrong last time. With “Strange Days” I cast the Nazi. This time I’ve got Schindler.

May 1, 2001 – “The Weight of Water” played at the San Francisco Film Festival. Ain’t It Cool News gave it a good review, but that doesn’t mean anything.

July 18, 2001 – “K-19” has wrapped production. I’ve now got two films in the can. It’s been 19 months since I wrapped on “The Weight of Water” and I have no idea when either film is coming out.

August 7, 2001 – Lions Gate is positioning “The Weight of Water” for the spring of 2002 to allow time for what is being called “much-needed edits.” In the meantime, Lions Gate has released The Million Dollar Hotel - that Wim Wenders movie co-written by U2’s Bono. Even THAT didn’t sit on the shelf this long.

February 13, 2002 – Spring is approaching. I’ve edited the crap out of this picture. I still don’t have a concrete parallel. I saw this Kevin Spacey/Lasse Hallstrom movie over the holidays and I realize I’ve made The Shipping News with a lot more color. Lions Gate is now looking for a platform release of September 20. In related news, they released the Dr. Dre/Snoop Dogg “comedy” – The Wash.

April 26, 2002 – For Chrissake, Lions Gate has pushed some psychosexual S&M romantic comedy with James Spader (there’s a surprise) called Secretary into my date. Dammit, just a week ago they released another pretentious hotel flick (Chelsea Walls) directed by that auteur Ethan Hawke. What do I have to do to get this film released? C’mon people. Elizabeth Hurley is naked in this thing. NAKED! She spends half the movie in a bikini with nipple protrusions and rubs ice cubes on her breasts after sucking them. The vidcaps have been up on Mr. Skin for months. C’mon, theater erections for all my friends. Now I’m told November 1. Maybe that’s a push for Oscars. Here I come, Jim.

June 7, 2002 - I’ve just checked the film’s website ( to see if anyone has posted any comments or anything new added to it – and it’s not even my movie anymore! It’s now the home of a site called “Tina’s Free Live Web Cam”. Is someone playing a joke on me? Now the website is ( I suppose in the spirit of Superman: The Movie and the upcoming Jackass: The Movie

July 22, 2002 – HOLY CRAP!!! $12 million. I’ve got Harrison Ford in a SUMMER MOVIE and it opens FOURTH!!! That should have been first day. I’ll admit it’s not my most exciting action film. There’s barely any action in it. Maybe I was still in the European Art Film Mode. Maybe there’s a parallel there.

August 3, 2002 – Just watched Albert BrooksThe Muse on cable and there was Jim (Cameron) in his funny little cameo. Sharon Stone’s advice to him in the movie – “Stay away from the water.” If I had seen that film when it opened in August of ’99, I probably wouldn’t be in the mess I’m in today.

September 7, 2002 - Katrin Cartlidge died today. 41 years old from pneumonia and septicaemia. God bless her! I hope it’s not too weird for people when they see her die on screen in my movie.

Oct. 24, 2002 – Josh Lucas’ starring role in Sweet Home Alabama with Reese Witherspoon has just passed the $100 million mark. The last film he was in was A Beautiful Mind. Four Oscars including Best Picture and $170 million at the box office. Big things!

Oct. 28, 2002 – “K-19” – final gross - $35,168,966. Shit!

Oct. 31, 2002 – It’s Halloween! I’m going as the Invisible Woman, cause that’s what I’m likely going to be in Hollywood after this year. It’s also the day before “The Weight of Water” finally gets its little theatrical release. I don’t know how anyone will react to it. I’m not hearing good things. It’s not a very good movie, but it certainly ain’t a piece of crap either. I can see where the erotic Skinemax comments come from. Obsession. Betrayal. Lust. Buried Passions. Incest. Attempted rape. Sounds like Lions Gate’s The Rules of Attraction, but that’s not what I intended. OK, so there are Hurley model tits and I have to admit, the backrub scene between Polley and Vinessa Shaw is pretty damn sexy, but maybe the parallel between 1873 and 1999 just isn’t there. Loveless marriage – check. Hidden desires – check. Murders intercut with the perfect storm – ah, certainly not checkmate.

Maybe this whole project was some subconscious effort to take shots at the jackasses in my life. Kathryn Bigelow’s Titanic has a nice ring to it. About the only ring I’m going to be hearing in a while. Maybe I’ll change it and call in “Titania”. Like the script says, “talent excuses cruelty” and “the world is full of talented assholes.” In fact, I’m going to call Cameron up right now and ask if he wants to take a boat trip with me. He still owes me a movie.

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originally posted: 11/01/02 09:53:44
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User Comments

11/01/03 john great...i watched on in nicely and just loved it 5 stars
8/28/03 Joe Tyrrell This movie covers too much dramatic ground, but it's interesting, honest, and well cast 4 stars
6/14/03 Jack Sommersby Ponderous and maddeningly uninvolving. 2 stars
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  01-Nov-2002 (R)



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