Jacques Cousteau (1910–1997) was driven by an insatiable desire to explore the sea and document his journey. It is thanks to him that the world first discovered the wonders taking place beneath the ocean’s surface. Working in the same period as the first moon landing, he saw himself as an astronaut of the sea.
Director Liz Garbus had access to a vast archive of material for her film about the thrilling, inspirational life of this French scientist, innovator, filmmaker, and writer. Cousteau’s phenomenal underwater shots are interspersed with remarkable informal moments onboard his ship the Calypso. Audio recordings of crew members and close friends, along with passages from Cousteau’s own diaries voiced by the actor Vincent Cassel, offer perspectives on the man behind the legend.
The chronological structure of the film emphasizes how much the world has changed—in part due to Cousteau’s own inventions, discoveries, and popularization of scientific research. And now, decades later, his warnings of the ecological consequences of climate change resonate with greater urgency than ever.