I was disappointed the first time I watched it, but I was so puzzled by what Anderson wanted to say about Jacques Cousteau that I kept on watching it, and it gets better with every viewing. It basically seems to be either a critique of Cousteau (with a little bit of Moby Dick thrown in) or an encomium of him and a satire on how an American might have been such a man, with comicbook elements. And there's a Cousteau reference in Rushmore, so I think Anderson is probably a genuine fan of his.
But Cousteau was a man with dubious standards. He invented the aqualung and made a fortune and spent it on exploring the oceans - by older standards he was probably a fair conservationist who didn't excite much criticism, but by modern standards he was questionable if not terrible - I remember reading that the animals in his care had a very miserable life (e.g. the seals he kept had a habit of dying of dehydration and getting replaced with others), and his filming was faked some of the time. The Life Aquatic warns that all filming is fake to some extent, Cousteau's, David Attenborough's, Wes Anderson's. A rottentomatoes critic complains of the variety of film stock used by Anderson, missing the point that the more garish stuff very successfully mimics Cousteau's 50s and 60s film stock. But how many of us remember Cousteau's TV programmes enough to get the satire? I see Cousteau DVDs are available, but they are not quite cheap enough for me to want to revisit him.
I'm not a huge Bill Murray fan, but I like him in this.
- Language: English
- Subtitles: English
- Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1
- Number of discs: 1
- Studio: Criterion
- Customer Reviews: 653 customer ratings
- ASIN: B07BFBT3G1