Ocean Gravity: freediver Guillaume Nery "flies" underwater in swift ocean currents

A short film with stunning footage of French freediver Guillaume Néry riding fast currents along Tiputa pass.


This site is part of the Rangiroa atoll, north of the island of Tahiti in French Polynesia. This short film was shot in 2014 by director and underwater cameraman Julie Gautier. When I first watched it, I found it hard to believe it wasn't CGI.


Can't say it any better than This Is Colossal did:

When you hear about strong currents near the ocean or large lakes, it's difficult to visualize exactly how they work, or the power they carry. This film should quickly put those mysteries to rest. The speeds Néry reaches in this video seem almost impossible without the help of equipment or flippers.


View "the making of" footage, and more info (in French) on the project website. In 2010, Gautier and Nery previously collaborated on an incredible "base jump" into Dean's Blue Hole, a famous site in the Bahamas.

The thing about this death-defying sport that fascinates me is that freedivers don't always defy death. The very sport itself is all about trying to defeat your body's natural, primordial instinct to, you know, BREATHE. When things go right, you've reduced your heart rate and flooded your blood and brain with carbon dioxide, but you pop back into your normal rhythms unharmed. When things go wrong, they go very wrong. You pass out, you drown, and you die.

Watching these beautiful videos seems oddly transgressive to me for that reason. Are we encouraging thrillseeking young men and women (why are so many of them French?) to risk their lives, in the hopes of beating that one last record, or scoring millions of internet video views? I have no idea what really motivates them, but I have to confess that I will keep watching what they do, because it is beautiful, dark magic.

Below, their film "Narcose," which refers to the a form of narcosis commonly experienced by freedivers "which induces several symptoms, among which a feeling of euphoria and levity." Because of those symptoms, narcosis is also referred to as "raptures of the deep".

The short film relates the interior journey of Guillaume Néry, the apnea world champion, during one of his deep water dives. It draws its inspiration from his physical experience and the narrative of his hallucinations.