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Becoming Cousteau - Film Review

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Published October 16th 2021
A look at the life of a famous explorer and environmentalist
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Becoming Cousteau takes 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.

Adventurer, filmmaker, inventor, author, unlikely celebrity and conservationist: For over four decades, Jacques-Yves Cousteau and his explorations under the ocean became synonymous with a love of science and the natural world. As he learned to protect the environment, he brought the whole world with him, sounding alarms more than 50 years ago about the warming seas and our planet's vulnerability.

Two-time Academy Award®-nominated filmmaker Liz Garbus takes an inside look at Cousteau and his life, his iconic films and inventions, and the experiences that made him the 20th century's most unique and renowned environmental voice, and the man who inspired generations to protect the Earth. With a run time of 93 mins, this film will be in select cinemas on 22 October 2021.

Cousteau said that diving was the most fabulous distraction you can experience, and that coming back onto land was like having been introduced to heaven and then forced back to earth. Yet, it was not by design that he started diving, but as a way of recovering after a horrendous car accident. Upon experiencing the magic of marine life, he was hooked and needed to share his discoveries with his friends. This led to him becoming an inventor out of necessity, and he co-invented the Aqualung, so he could dive deeper and longer. The ultimate filmmaker, he then needed to share his finds with the world, and ended up inventing the housing for what became an underwater camera.

The sense you get from the film is that you're looking at the life of an elegant and gentle man. One filled with the joy of nature and a passion for our environment. A great man who played a huge hand in the environmental movement, yet he was not without flaws. He was like a work in progress who was humble enough to realise and admit to his failures. He was a natural progression in his personal growth and discoveries.

Born at a time when the world didn't know better, he himself played a hand in causing damage to our environment for which he felt deep guilt. Starting out sharing his adventures with his friends and then with the world through his filmmaking, Cousteau abhorred calling his films documentaries. They were adventure films. His audience were enamoured by images they never knew existed. Even Picasso came and was amazed by all the colours under the sea.

Learning about a whole ecosystem under the sea meant making films of pretty fishes and sea life, and being an explorer was no longer enough for Cousteau. It was time to bring attention to things that were disappearing underwater; the destruction of the ocean, the pollution, and so began his journey into environmental protection. He famously said we were drawing blank cheques on future generations, and they were the ones who are going to pay.

This documentary does not deep dive into Cousteau's personal life or emotions. As the famous man said, he's not interested in what is inside him, but what is outside. This is more like a condensed version of all his adventure films snap shotted together to tell his story. However, the charm of archival footage and the nostalgia of times gone by is not remiss. One has to appreciate and admire Cousteau the adventurer who was bringing the world films that utilised underwater photography at a time when it was not the norm. Most importantly, his passion for our planet and his passionate stance in letting the world know it was in trouble more than 50 years ago.

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Why? Film Review of Becoming Cousteau
When: In Select Cinemas 22 October 2021
Where: In select cinemas 22 October 2021
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