Friday, October 22, 2021

Becoming Cousteau - Documentary Review

The Documentary: Becoming Cousteau

The Director: Liz Garbus

The Story: A look at the life, passions, achievements and tragedies surrounding the famous explorer and environmentalist Jacques Cousteau, featuring an archive of his newly restored footage.

The Review:
Growing up when I did, I feel like every single person on the planet knew who the one and only Jacques-Yves Cousteau was because he was always on TV showing us the wonders of the ocean. He was such a larger than life figure who was always on the verge of some new underwater discovery although I suppose being a kid I didn't really understand the ins and outs of the life he was living so it's really nice to have this documentary to fill in those gaps.

Director Liz Garbus has been creating documentaries for several decades now so it seems fitting that she would take on the task of putting together a cinematic record of a man who has meant so much to so many for so long and, after watching the film, I would say she absolutely made the right choice. The film features a lot of never before seen footage and chronicles Cousteau's life from childhood all the way through to the last years of his life so I figure there had to be endless hours of film to go through. Pulling together an interesting and engaging narrative from so much information has to be a tall order and it's obvious by the results that no effort was spared to honor the man's life and legacy.

Watching footage from Cousteau's movies and TV shows brought back so many memories of seeing the captain and his crew on the Calypso searching out adventure and making discoveries. The ocean seemed like such an unknown and amazing place and it was like the crew was opening a treasure chest of new life forms and underwater worlds we never knew existed before. Getting to not only get glimpses of the footage again but to also take a look behind the scenes at what it took to make the shows including all of the dangers and hardships was like reliving those times but in a whole new way.

After watching this film, I have a newfound respect for Cousteau not just as a high seas adventurer but as a human being, a man who was as flawed as he was amazing. This made him more relatable in a way I suppose and maybe also because now I look at him from an adult perspective instead of as a kid who just sees the adventure and glory. If you don't know who Cousteau is or maybe just have heard the name before, this documentary is a great way to get to know a man who literally changed the world and has had an enormous and ongoing impact on the ocean, the planet, and even the continued existence of humanity. That may sound dramatic but it's true. Watch the film, you'll see.

The Verdict:
Becoming Cousteau ventures into the deep waters of a heroic figure who brought the mysteries of the ocean to the surface for all to see. Director Liz Garbus explores the vast ocean of Cousteau's films and footage and photos and surfaces with a documentary worthy of the captain of all explorers.

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