Umberto Pelizzari sits deep in meditation on the side of a boat, his legs dangling in the water, his hands clasped on his lap. He pulls a swim cap over his head and crosses himself.

"In the last minute . . . I feel the ocean absorbing my body. I see myself grabbing the tag at 80 meters -- at 262 feet. I tell myself I can do this," he recalls on the soundtrack.

He slips into the water, gulps in a deep breath (any mistakes from here on and it could be his last) and begins his descent, leaving the world of light above as the camera follows him down. Wearing only a wetsuit, a pair of flippers and light weights strapped around his wrists, with languid, oxygen-conserving kicks he propels himself deeper, deeper into the cosmic blue void. This is a free dive -- a world depth-record attempt on a single breath.