Review by Dan Skip Allen
The world is full of fascinating people. So many that it's hard to know about all of them. That's why books, tv shows, and movies depicting or chronicling these people's lives become so important. Documentaries are a very good way to learn about interesting and groundbreaking people such as Jacques Cousteau. Becoming Cousteau is a film about a man who revolutionized diving and underwater exploration as well as became an activist trying to save the world's oceans and the wildlife that lives within them.
Cousteau was originally trying to become a pilot before injuring himself in a plane crash. He broke a few bones and this accident led him to discover underwater diving and the beauty of the oceans. His curiosity also led him to create better and more innovative ways to travel underwater. This was his life's work from this point on in his life. He wouldn't let anyone or anything get in his way.
Financing his career wasn't always easy though. It's not the most obvious thing for people to invest in. And the real danger of what he is trying to do was very evident. Cousteau had to sell himself and his beliefs to get investors to believe in him and his mission. Eventually, he would find people who believed in him and his mission of discovery and exploration. This would change the world as we knew it. From this point on the world would be his oyster. He would go anywhere he wanted to.
As per his mission in life, Cousteau would chronicle his journeys and his life with cameras. Underwater cameras and above-ground cameras were everywhere. They even depicted some mistakes and tragic events in his quest of learning about underwater life. He created new ways to explore this world. That would be an important part of his legacy moving forward.
This film has a lot of French language that is put to screen as subtitles. It's a good way to translate his words from the many archival films he created on his many journeys. Louis Malle was one of the many cameramen who worked with Cousteau on his adventures of discovery. Many people wanted to see what Cousteau was doing and this was the perfect way to share in the adventure for the world.
Talking heads and voiceovers also helped explain what transpired in the life of Cousteau. A lot of his work barred fruit as in a full-length movie. That film, The Silent World won him the Palme D'Or and Academy Award for Best Documentary. This was the tip of the iceberg for him though. He even tried to create a world where people could live underwater in a contained habitat. Like out of a movie!
Cousteau's life led to a different discovery for him. He wasn't a good husband or father. His work was the most important thing to him and he didn't have time for a family. Cousteau's boat Calypso wasn't necessarily a place to build on that family dynamic even though the kids came on the boat during vacations. Despite this lifestyle Philippe, one of Cousteau's sons still managed to take after his father as hard as that was to believe based on how he was as a family man.
All of Cousteau's life works led to a tv show called The Undersea World which would star himself. It wasn't easy to reach this decision though, but it was the obvious way to do the show. Cousteau was a natural on camera. The world around would come to learn about this legendary explorer and innovator. Showing the world an underwater world they would never get a chance to see otherwise without this show.
This documentary was quite interesting and helped me see this man through a different lens. All the voiceover and archival footage worked perfectly to show this man's life work. His struggles and successes were all there in the film. I got a whole new appreciation for this great explorer, inventor, filmmaker, and activist. He is definitely one of the world's most important people. And his life's work will always be important and advanced by new and upcoming scientists and explorers. He is a hero for a generation!
Becoming Cousteau is now in theaters.