“Becoming Cousteau” is shallower in terms of its subject’s personal life, touching upon his relationship with wife Simone — a major player in his work who preferred staying off camera — and bringing his sons into the operation, including the devastating impact of son Philippe’s death in a plane crash in 1979.
Cousteau remarried almost immediately after his wife died
, remaining a passionate advocate for the oceans and environment until his death in
For those too young to remember, the film captures how greatly admired Cousteau was in his time, as he fields questions from school children, while rekindling the thrill and impact of his TV documentaries (of “true adventures”) before there were whole channels devoted to bringing such fare into living rooms.
“I am miserable out of the water,” Cousteau muses early in the film, with some of his writings read by actor Vincent Cassel.
Presented by National Geographic, “Becoming Cousteau” benefits from the sense that his warnings are timelier than ever, having too often gone unheeded while he walked the Earth and ventured beneath the waves.
“For though we are strangers in your silent world, to live on the land we must learn from the sea,” John Denver wrote in his musical ode to Cousteau and his crew, “Calypso.” Garbus lays out what Cousteau sought to teach us. What we have learned might be another matter.
“Becoming Cousteau” will premiere in select theaters on Oct. 22.