How to watch Becoming Cousteau | BBC Wildlife Magazine

When and where is Become Cousteau to be screened?

Become Cousteau will be screened in UK cinemas from November 12 and released for film screenings in the US in October.


Watch the trailer for Become Cousteau

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Who was Jacques-Yves Cousteau?

Commander Jacques-Yves Cousteau (sometimes referred to simply as “Jacques Cousteau”) was a lot of things: an explorer, an environmentalist, a filmmaker, an innovator, an author, a husband, a father and much more. He was born in 1910 and before embarking on all things submarine he was a French naval officer. However, a car accident broke both his arms, and it was during his recovery that he began to dive and then became a naval officer.

He then co-developed the Aqua-Lung prototype, carried out underwater archaeological excavations, studied the waters for an oil company, built underwater villages and much more.

Jacques-Yves Cousteau. © ABC Photo Archives / Disney General Entertainment Content / Getty Images

During his life he shot numerous films, short films and documentaries, and wrote over 50 books. He was the inspiration for the main character of the 2004 film Aquatic life with Steve Zissou, which was directed by Wes Anderson and starred Bill Murray as Zissou.

Cousteau died of a heart attack in 1997, shortly after his 87th birthday. His legacy includes an environmental foundation called The Cousteau company, which he founded in 1973 and which has more than 50,000 members.


What is Become Cousteau In regards to?

Directed by award-winning documentary filmmaker Liz Garbus, this National Geographic film takes on the difficult challenge of bringing the life of this extraordinary man to the big screen in just 90 minutes.

With images taken by Cousteau himself or by his family and team, we get a glimpse of who he was as a person and as an explorer, renowned around the world for his films, books and activism. for conservation.

Jacques Cousteau (80) wearing a blue shirt over a blue turtleneck indoors at a conference, standing in front of a number of other delegates.

Jacques-Yves Cousteau at the Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, June 2, 1992 © Antonio RIBEIRO / Gamma-Rapho / Getty Images

There’s a lot to cover, so the movie only slightly touches on different aspects of his work and life, but still doesn’t stray from some of the uncomfortable aspects – his struggles as a husband and father when he was so. focused on exploration, and the times when he and his crew handled animals in ways that would be considered inappropriate today, such as pear trees on giant tortoises.

In the film, he talks about a time when his crew angrily killed sharks that were eating a baby dolphin and how he struggled to re-broadcast those early films. It reveals Cousteau’s evolution, from being funded by oil companies to becoming the conservationist who created a legacy that continues today.


Interview with producer Mridu Chandra

Mridu Chandra has produced a number of award-winning documentaries, including Electoral dysfunction and Out in the night. The New York filmmaker tells us that he dived deeply into Cousteau’s archive images.

A dark haired woman in a pale sweater is looking at the camera smiling, with a blue striped background behind her.

Mridu Chandra, Producer, Becoming Cousteau. © Ana Catala

Why make a film about Cousteau?

Director and co-producer Liz Garbus and I grew up knowing and admiring Cousteau. About six years ago, she was reading a book about him to her children, and she realized that most people these days wouldn’t really know who he is – even though all the movies and 4K underwater photography and GoPro that we see in natural history documentaries these days is built on his pioneering work.

Does Cousteau’s work still interest today’s audiences?

This is especially timely today with many people suffering from climate grief and ecological anxiety, and feeling unable to act on climate change, which his life speaks to in a personal way because it transforms that feeling. in action and activism. The film is aimed both at nostalgic people who watched his original films and interviews, and at those for whom it is an introduction to him and his work.

Where did you find the pictures?

Many of his films are already available and can be watched online, so what we wanted to do was go back to the original 16mm and 35mm films he shot (even after TV went to video, he did. continued to shoot on film). It took Liz and National Geographic years of effort to work with the Cousteau family who own the original archival footage. It’s huge! These images have been in a safe since her passing, so it was so exciting to have access to these films.

I had the opportunity to live in Paris to work with an archivist to digitize them. We slowly walked through and recorded everything. Some days there weren’t that many, others there were repeated sequences, and then there were the days when we found the first sequences of Simone (Cousteau’s first wife)! Even though I had read a lot about his life, it was all very intellectual, and then when I saw those films, it all came to life.

How did you go about making it into a 90 minute film?

We were trying to show the arc of his life, and our creative approach was to allow him to tell his own story and take us on his journey. Many of the sequences filmed had no sound because they were shot underwater or on a film camera.

We had about 550 hours of material, plus 100 extra hours of audio. We couldn’t say everything, we had to leave so much out. I would say every five minutes of the movie there are 10 stories that we must have missed that we weren’t able to explore.

I hope this will inspire people to take it further, to watch his films and read his books.


Main character: Jacques Cousteau. © Thomas J Abercrombie / National Geographic

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