Jacques Mayol, the legendary diver
who was the model for the movie Le Grand Bleu (The Big Blue).
He sought refuge in the deep sea
and dreamed of a symbiosis between dolphins and humans.
A Japanese man formed a “brotherhood”
with a charismatic man who died by suicide.
We asked him to tell us about the true face of Jacques Mayol.

Jacques Mayol


横山泰介◎写真 山根佐枝◎文

 今から30年以上前、フランスで夏休みを過ごした友人が大学の新学期に一部のパンフレットを見せてくれた。ブルーのグラデーションにイルカのシルエット、『Le Grand Blue』と綴られた表紙には、自然への郷愁と謎めいたインパクトがあった。待望のロードショーを観た私達は、未知の衝撃と感動に包まれた。海の深いところにあるブルーの世界を識り、人間とイルカの共棲、愛と人生の辛さ、さまざまな微妙を垣間見ることになる。「環境」や「平和」が現在ほど社会の中心的な話題ではなかった当時、まどろんでいた私達の心に投じられた小さな石。波紋は少しずつ広がり、「本当に大切なこと」への意識を目覚めさせる刺激となった。映画のモデルとなったのが、ジャック・マイヨール。主人公が海とイルカに焦がれ、現実の世界との「掛け違い」の果てに、深いブルーの淵へと還っていくというストーリーには脚色があったが、映画は後のジャック・マイヨールの最期をごく自然な流れのように感じさせる不思議なエンディングだった。

 ジャックと現実の時間を過ごした人物から、彼の残した言葉を聞きたくて、旧友、成田均さんの住む千葉・館山を訪ねた。そこはジャックが度々滞在した土地でもある。成田さんは、1969年にイタリアで開催された素潜りの魚突き世界選手権に出場し、ジャックを知る。「素潜りで 70m潜れる男」という神様のような存在が、 '70年に伊豆を訪れた際に出身地の秋田を旅しないか、と口説いたのが交友の始まりだ。 「宗教や国境の問題で、人間と人間が殺し合う世の中だけれど、イルカのように地球上には言語より大事なコミュニケーションがある。俺とお前のように」とジャックは成田さんを「弟」と慕った。言葉を超えた意識の交流で信頼と理解を深めた二人。時に我が侭なほどに純粋なジャックへの憤りと、尊敬と、様々な感情の入り交じりを成田さんは正直に語った。そこにはジャックに対する兄弟のような「愛情」が静かに脈打つ。 「ジャックは先見の明があった。『人類が真の平和と環境を求めるなら、手に入れた便利なテクノロジーの半分かそれ以上をリリースする覚悟が必要だ』と随分前から言っていました」



Jacques Mayol ジャック・マイヨール
1927年、上海生まれ。家族でよく夏を過ごした佐賀・唐津で、10歳の時に初めてイルカと出会い、インスピレーションを感じる。20代は旅を繰り返し、30代でフリーダイビングを始める。1976年には、人類初、素潜りでの 100mを記録。リュック・ベッソン監督の映画『グラン・ブルー』は、自伝『イルカと海に帰る日(原題:ホモデルフィナス)』が原作。2001年自ら命を絶つ

Jacques Mayol

Photo: Taisuke Yokoyam Text: Sae Yamane

"I saw a great movie over there. It's a big hit!"  More than 30 years ago, a friend of mine who spent a summer vacation in France showed me a brochure during the new semester of college. The cover that spelled out "Le Grand Blue" had the blue gradation, the silhouette of a dolphin, which gave me a nostalgic and enigmatic impact on nature.

As we watched the long-awaited roadshow, we were filled with unknown shock and excitement. You learned about the blue world in the depths of the ocean, the co-habitation of humans and dolphins, the pain of love and life, and glimpse of many other subtleties. At a time when "environment" and "peace" were not as central topics in society as they are today, this movie raised questions about them to those of us who were in a daze. It stimulated us to awaken our awareness of what was truly important.

The model for the film was Jacques Mayol. The story was about a man who was passionate about the ocean and dolphins returned to the deep blue abyss after he became disappointed as a result of being awakened to the "discrepancy" between reality and his ideal. Although the film was dramatized, it had a strange ending which made us feel that the end of Jacques Mayol seemed like a natural progression.

I visited Tateyama, Chiba, where my old friend Hitoshi Narita lives. I wanted to hear what Jacques had to say from Mr. Narita who had spent some real time with him. It was also the place where Jacques himself had often stayed.

Mr. Narita got to know Jacques when he competed World Spearfishing Championships in Italy in 1969. Their friendship began when Mr. Narita talked to Jacques, the god-like "man who can dive 70 meters underwater without oxygen tanks", into traveling his hometown Akita together with him when Jacques visited Izu in 1970.

"In a world where people kill each other because of religion and national borders, there is one form of communication on earth that is more important than language: dolphin communication. Just like you and me." Jacques adored Mr. Narita as his "little brother". The two had deepened their trust and understanding through an exchange of consciousness beyond words. Mr. Narita spoke honestly about his mixed feelings of resentment and respect for Jacques, who was sometimes selfishly pure.

Mr. Narita has a brotherly "love" for Jacques deep in his heart. "Jacques had foresight. He had been saying for a long time that "If mankind seeks true peace and environment, we need to be prepared to let go of half or more of the useful technology we’ve got." He strongly believed that his ideal world would come true as mankind approached Homodelphinus (dolphin man). Jacques said, "If there is even a hint of inspiration in the human mind and spirit, our damaged planet, Earth, will be a paradise again."

Jack's last words to Mr. Narita were "I'm disappointed in the future of mankind. I've been trying to appeal for peace and the environment in my own way, but I haven't been able to do anything to change the direction. If I were given the chance to meet you just once in 200 years, I would say, "The world is exactly as I told you it would be, isn’t it?” By that time, the human race may be gone, though. It sounds too sad. Jacques, who lived by his beliefs and was overwhelmed by regret. His message, as pure as a dolphin's, is becoming more apparent more than 20 years after his death. It will still take time, but it is definitely having a resonance in society.

Jacques Mayol
Free Diver. Born in Shanghai in 1927. He was inspired by his first encounter with dolphins at the age of 10 in Karatsu, Saga, where he often spent summers with his family. He traveled a lot in his 20s and started freediving in his 30s. In 1976, he became the first human being to dive 100 meters unassisted. Luc Besson's film "Grand Bleu" is based on his autobiography "The Day I Returned to the Sea with My Dolphin" (original title: Homodelphinus)