It should have been a routine job for this team of commercial deep-sea divers, Dave Yuasa, Chris Lemon and Duncan Allcock. Although no work in the North Sea could be considered routine. It is regarded as one of the most unpredictable stretches of water in the world. And it is home to the UK's lucrative oil fields. In Last Breath, the team set out on a repair mission beneath the waves.
The skilled team are known as Saturation Divers. A technique which allows them to stay submerged for long periods. Saturation divers breathe a mixture of helium-oxygen and must live inside a compression tank when not working in the water. The tank protects them from decompression sickness or “the bends” as it is more commonly known. In many ways, Saturation Divers have more in common with Astronauts than just about any other profession.
The documentary gives precise details on the lives of the divers and those working on their support vessel. Viewers get to see first hand the confined space of the tank and the pressure (no pun intended) the divers work under. Last Breath combines real camcorder footage from the dive team, and recordings from a submersible drone. Plus there is CCTV captured by the support vessel along with reconstructed scenes. All this footage is woven expertly into 90 minutes of incredible tension and heartbreak by directors Richard da Costa and Alex Parkinson.
The first part of the documentary lays the scene for the drama about to unfold. We learn more about them from the camcorder footage taken by Chris Lemon – the diver who becomes stranded on the bottom of the sea. The documentary smartly uses these recordings to give the viewers a personal portrait of each team member. We get to know the divers, at work and at home. We see the families who depend on them and the mutual respect they have for one another.
Then we come to the freak events, which culminated in a life and death struggle under the waves. Viewers experience the tragedy unfold from the vantage point as those present on the day. The support vessel was experiencing unexpected failures in systems designed to never fail. You can sense the panic in the ship's crew as they realise the implications for the divers below. Within minutes, one of the divers is lost, and the frantic search begins to locate him before it's too late.
Last Breath is a heart-stopping documentary filled with tension. At times it's almost unbearable to watch, and you will find yourself holding your breath as you watch this unmissable true story of one man’s impossible fight for survival.
Great documentary but there is absolutely no reason it should take 20 minutes to come up with the idea of rebooting the system! What is the first thing you do if your computer locks up?