Review of 'Becoming Cousteau'

becoming_cousteau.jpg Jacques Cousteau was a man with a strong craving for adventure and exploration. Originally trained as an air force pilot a traffic accident led him to discover diving and the sea. Now a naval officer, his passion for the oceans grew he helped develop the aqualung allowing for much easier exploration of the world beneath the surface. Eventually he gathered a group of similarly minded volunteers on his boat the Calypso he explored the oceans of the planet eventually using his skills as a cinematographer to create films then television programs. Later in life his environmental activism heightened as he took his concerns to the highest levels of government.

“Becoming Cousteau” explores the great man's life without sugar coating much including his early days that many would consider “environmentally hostile” rather than sensitive though, it is pointed out, his actions were quite normal at the time. The scenes of his crew killing sharks that were hunting dolphins a particular vivid example of this. Cousteau even did work for oil companies in exploring and exploiting the ocean depths. At one time we learn he actively promoted mankind's colonization of the seas, a viewpoint he would later reverse preferring instead to concentrate on protecting them.

This is not simply a remix of his amazing films, this film concentrated on the man which perhaps is why it feels like it drags on so much. The man was really quite single minded in his devotion to the oceans, caring very little for the trappings of modern life including several failed marriages. He was not completely without human emotions as demonstrated by his devastation at the loss of his pilot son Philippe in an flying accident.

Despite being a bit disjointed and dry in places with even the short run time seeming to drag on, “Becoming Cousteau” is a fascinating look at who the legend really was - flaws and all. It was all about his work and in the end, the world is a much better place because of him.

Rating: “Really good but I have some issues”

Review Date: 2023-04-30

Directed by: Liz Garbus

Studio: Story Syndicate

Year: 2021

Length: 94 minutes

Genre: Documentary