June 11, 2013

Under the Sea with Jacques Cousteau. ~ Stephen Whitmore

Jacques Cousteau would have turned 103 years old today and though he’s no longer with us, his film and television work lives on—and in many ways Cousteau’s films are better and more pertinent than ever.

While current documentaries seem to rely on Hollywood magic and special effects to capture audiences’ attention, Jacques chose to use the real world as a source for intrigue and excitement.

He took viewers along on his adventures from Antarctica to Australia, the Nile to New Zealand, and the Mississippi River to the Mediterranean Sea.

His audience joined him in looking for Atlantis and in discovering strange new species in the Galapogos Islands, and shared the excitement with him when he discovered the wreckage of the HMS Britannic.

His choice to use real events and real places further enticed viewers as they dreamed of someday visiting these places. Jacques created an amazing amount of footage that was both inspiring and breathtaking for his thousands of viewers with no special effects, no props, no actors, and no sets.

Of course, Cousteau was not only an innovative researcher and ground-breaking documentary maker, but he was an avid and successful inventor. He is credited with co-creating the aqua-lung, the first self-contained underwater breathing apparatus which allowed divers to remain underwater for an extended period.

Due to this invention he is considered one of the fathers of modern scuba diving. Add in the fact that he once assembled a commando operation against the Italian espionage in France during WWII, and it’s clear Cousteau was a one of a kind role model for every documentarian to come.

Many episodes of Cousteau’s classic documentary series “The Undersea World of Jacques Cousteau,” which aired from 1966 to 1976, are now available for free on Youtube. If you’d like to celebrate Cousteau’s 103rd birthday by enjoying some of these amazing episodes, here are some highlights from the first collection:

Collection 1, Episode 1: Sharks

The first episode of the “Undersea World” series, “Sharks” serves as a great introduction to Cousteau, his crew and his ship the Calypso, as well as providing a window into the lives of those most famous killers of the sea, sharks.

Collection 1, Episode 6: Sunken Treasure

In this episode, the crew of the Calypso sets out on a treasure hunt, in search of a Spanish ship that sank in the Caribbean more than 300 years ago carrying some $2 million in silver and gold.

Collection 1, Episode 9: The Night of the Squid

This episode of the “Undersea World” was one of the first documentaries to explore the mating cycle of the mysterious and savage sea arrow squid in the waters off southern California. The crew of the Calypso was able to capture every stage of the mating, including the hatching of the young squids and their fight for survival, in beautiful color—something never before seen at the time.

Collection 1, Episode 18: The Forgotten Mermaids

Maybe you’ve seen Animal Planet’s recent fake documentary about mermaids—if you haven’t, skip it and head over to “The Forgotten Mermaids” for a scientific approach to the question “Are mermaids real?” The answer may surprise you!

Feature Film: World Without Sun

This feature film is an academy award-winning documentary about the first manned undersea colony and represents and excellent example of the feature-length work of Jacques Cousteau.



Stephen Whitmore is a freelance TV, film and education blogger who writes for DirectTVDeal. He enjoys introducing readers to older television and films that, thanks to digital technology and distribution, have become available for a new generation of viewers to enjoy.






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Ed: Bryonie Wise


{Photo: via Sara on Pinterest}




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