Swimming pool scenes are surprisingly common in movies. But as well as giving filmmakers something pretty to film, swimming pools tend to be a good excuse to get deep. The way characters behave in and around swimming pools can tell us a lot about them, and how they interact with the world in general. After all, in Jungian psychology, water is a potent symbol for the unconscious, so having a character plunge into a pool is kind of like dropping them into an external representation of their own minds.
Right at the beginning of the movie, Mandy Amber Heard is persuaded to attend a party with the cool kids, most of whom have only just started to pay attention to her since she became conventionally hot. Trying to get her attention is a dangerous game, though, and one poor sod pays the ultimate price for his bravado when he attempts to jump off the roof into the pool… and misses. Taste Of Fear Another gross swimming pool here, this time attached to an equally decrepit gothic mansion.
The scene where Robert Ronald Lewis dives into the murky swimming pool to look for a corpse is creepy as all get-out. Is it a metaphor for anything? Probably not the place you want to be doing any big gasps of shock and horror, to be fair. Unless we all told one another our secrets in the bath or something. Director John Hughes said the kids broke into a random house to use the pool, which you obviously should try at home.
It Follows Having failed to defeat the ghoul chasing them by shooting it in the head or passing the curse on to someone else, the kids in It Follows decide the best way to fight a supernatural threat is by… electrocuting it. In a swimming pool. With one of them floating in the middle of it as bait. The finale of It Follows is nonsensical, but deliberately so; the director wanted to show how utterly out of their depth the kids were. Keeping all of their limbs below the surface of the water, barely even making ripples as they make their way across the pool, they swim in almost total silence, whispering to one another about the recent murders.
In Skyfall, Daniel Craig swims in a glowing rooftop pool with glorious views over the neon-lit skyline of Shanghai. The scene was actually filmed at the very posh Four Seasons hotel in Canary Wharf, with Shanghai digitally added into the background afterwards.
Either way, it looks stunning. Whether it has any deeper significance is up for debate, but the scene was used in the marketing campaign for the film, which made it seem important.
Plus did I mention that it looks awesome? Shivers Ever thought about why swimming pools have to be chlorinated? Sexy Beast One of the most striking openings to a movie possibly ever, Sexy Beast opens with retired con-man Gal Ray Winstone sunning himself beside his swimming pool in his swanky Spanish villa, musing about how great his life is… only for a boulder to come crashing past. Gal narrowly avoids getting squashed, and the rock lands in his swimming pool instead, making a gigantic splash.
Boogie Nights Another swimming-pool-as-status-symbol here. One long tracking shot moves all the way around the pool, dropping in on one poolside conversation after another, eventually following one partygoer right down to the bottom of the pool itself. The Swimmer Not so much a scene as an entire movie in which swimming pools feature heavily, The Swimmer sees Ned Burt Lancaster deciding to swim home from a party by jumping from one backyard pool to the next, much to the concern of his neighbours.
Yup, more sex in swimming pools. Also, at the bottom of the swimming pool is a replica of The Creation of Adam, which is, obviously, thematically relevant. He, and we, are isolated by the water from most of the carnage that ensues when Eli Lina Leandersson arrives to wreak revenge. Although, depending on how romantic you find their relationship, Oskar might well be doomed anyway. The Graduate Another one you could write a dissertation about, The Graduate is a textbook example of a film that uses a swimming pool motif to tell us about its characters.
Or at least, no intentional swimming. Here the pool is used for a bit of silliness, as a spiteful classmate decides to destroy the dance floor where George James Stewart and Mary Donna Reed are showing off. Obviously, the gym has a swimming pool underneath, and George and Mary are too busy dancing to notice as they get right up to the edge… and then tumble over.
But the prank backfires and it becomes a joyful moment; even more so when everyone else decides to get in on the pool action, too. Cat People Even in black and white, swimming pools look awesome on film, as Cat People proves.
But rather than sun-drenched and tempting, this pool is terrifying. The only light in the room is reflected off the water, making weird shadows where someone, or something, seems to be hiding… Brrrrrrr.
Until it kills him.