Dave Not Coming Back

Another example of a documentary being filled with emotion. But this time in a rather unexpected place. So much so that a topic which seems rather niche and would only attract a small amount of people becomes something rather universal. With themes like love and loss, tragedy, doing something you love no matter the risk, and resolution.

Here in director Jonah Malak’s (first film) documentary about a world record dive which leads to a tragedy, you start off wondering (unless you are a diver yourself) why you are watching then you are totally drawn in by the human element.

A group of friends who are divers are down in the infamous Boesmansgat Cave in South Africa when one of them sees the body of another diver who perished there years ago. To do something for his family and something which had never been done before they decide to go back down to recover and bring up the body.

This would be a world record dive that would lead to a world record body recovery. The team, led by long-time friends and very experienced divers Don and Dave, begin to train for the dive. They set up a whole team and decide to record the whole thing.

This is where director Jonah Malak comes in. He has been told to record all the build up to the dive as well as the recovery dive itself. They are going very deep. Not many people have accomplished this. To put this in some perspective they are going so far down that while it only takes 15 minutes to get to the bottom it would take 12 hours to surface.

On the day of there is the team of Don and Dave along with 8 other divers plus a support crew as well as the parents of the deceased diver whose body they were attempting to bring up.

No matter how experienced, in cases like this you can never predict exactly what is going to happen. Tragedy occurs and both Don and Dave find themselves in peril. Unfortunately only one survives. Dave is lost. The team fights to save Don who is suffering from an extreme case of the bends 10 hours from the surface. They do manage to get him back up. He is not in great shape, but does survive.

They do manage to recover the body they had originally gone down to recover as well as that of Dave’s. Due to the camera on the top of Dave’s helmet his last moments are all on tape. It is harrowing, but his friends and fellow divers all watch it. They see that what happened could never had been predicted and while tragic was unavoidable.

How devoted divers are to what they do despite the danger, is confirmed by the fact that six months after he almost died, Don begins diving again.

Instead of cashing in on the horrible elements the film is constructed in a respectful and (amazingly) beautiful way. An ode to friendship and humans pushing themselves to do what most think is not possible.

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