2021, Movies

Becoming Cousteau (2021, Liz Garbus)

This is a fairly traditional and hagiographic documentary about Jacques Cousteau. I had no idea he had such an incredible life but I’m not sure this is the movie to tell his story.

So though I watched reruns of The Undersea World of Jacques Cousteau when I was a kid and new of him through parodies and tributes as well, but I didn’t actually know much about him. Did you know he was involved in inventing SCUBA diving? Did you know he helped develop underwater cameras? Did you know he helped pioneer underwater habitats? I didn’t know these things and I learned these things from this movie. So that’s good.

It does a good job of summarizing his career and his work as a promoter of knowledge of the oceans and later environmental causes. And the film is reasonably entertaining. It contains a lot of footage of Cousteau at work and as such does a pretty good job of showing what his career was like.

But there feels like a lot left out. Whether its what he was doing in Vichy when they were inventing the first SCUBA-like diving equipment to the fact that he had a decade-plus affair and multiple children outside of his marriage, the things about Cousteau that might make him look bad mostly ignored or glossed over. There is brief discussion about how he took oil money and how he preferred his younger son, but there’s only a little about it. And his two kids he fathered with another woman (who now control his estate) just show up. In the era of the internet, especially with streaming, it’s hard to understand why a film would omit some of this stuff, or only briefly cover it, when they know we can just look up his life on the internet.

Still, I learned stuff and I was mostly entertained. I wish it wasn’t an authorized biography as I feel like that would have been a little more interesting.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.