Jacques-Yves Cousteau was undoubtedly one of the greatest explorers of the 20th century but what he discovered was a world most people had never seen before and it was hiding in plain sight under the ocean. His scientific innovations to deep sea diving and his never-before-seen underwater cinematography introduced most people to marine life, behavior and landscapes that were just as strange, beautiful and mysterious as life on another planet. Although he had made numerous short documentaries on the sea throughout the forties starting with Par Dix-huit Metres de Fond in 1943, it was feature length non-fiction film debut, The Silent Sea (Le Monde du Silence, 1956), co-directed with Louis Malle, that first attracted international attention and inspired school kids to want to become explorers, photographers and oceanographers. Seen today, the film is still a fascinating introduction to Cousteau’s world but, like some nature documentaries, it presents images of unearthly beauty mixed with cruelty and violence that wouldn’t be out of place in a Mondo Cane-like exploitation expose. It also presents a more pristine world under the sea before oil spills, global warming and overfishing helped reduce marine life as well as eradicating entire species of fish.
A stunning sequence from the 2019 documentary, Picture of His Life about underwater photographer Amos Nachoum.
Swimming with dolphins is a lifetime dream for some people and they can realize it at several destinations around the world for a price like Orlando, Cancun and the Bahamas. But who in their right mind would want to swim with polar bears? Wildlife photographer Amos Nachoum does. His obsession with this quest and the realization of it is the central focus of Picture of His Life (2019), a documentary by Dani Menkin and Yonatan Nir. Continue reading →