With my latest Amazon commission gift voucher I opted to get this series of DVD of my childhood hero and it finally arrived yesterday. So last night I settled down to a Jacques Cousteau undersea fest. And it was as good to watch last night as it was 40 years ago.
This box set contains all of Costeau’s programmes made for the Undersea world series between 1967 and 1976. It’s a great marine wildlife series of DVD’s but now it’s also an important document of environmental history.
I got through 4 of the 36 programmes in the box set and it is amazing how far we have come in understanding the marine environment. the programmes also showed just how visionary and ahead of his time Jacques Cousteau was. He and his team aboard the Calypso really pushed forward barriers - both in communicating environmental issues and technical diving and film-making abilities.
I was a little concerned over the DVD’s being digitally remastered – I sometimes have a problem with over-bright and vivid colour remastering of the 60′s programmes you can get on satellite channels sometimes. And there was some aspects of this on the programmes I watched. But it was not too distracting and this really is such a seminal series on raising awareness of the natural world that it does not detract from the series.
There are few DVD series that I would say are an essential part of any wildlife lover collection but this is one. It may be a bit dated in parts, it may have health and safety people shaking their heads and today young marine ecologists will be amazed at what ecologists used to believe but there’s no doubt this is still one of the all time great nature series. It’s certainly in the top three of any wildlife series produced at any time.
The Undersea World was a series that bought the natural world and cutting edge technology together – from submarine observation spheres to underwater scooters and the famous flying boat. Even almost 50 years on there is still a feeling of adventure and cutting edge studies coming through the TV screen.
It sad that the Cousteau Society plans to repair and relaunch the Calypso in time for the 100th anniversary of Jacques Cousteau’s birth failed to happen, hopefully the relaunch of this iconic ship and what it symbolises will take place at some time in the near future.
What I’d love to see is some follow up programmes on the same locations that these programmes were made in. The programmes I watched showed the seas to be filled with sharks, corals and fabulously coloured and shaped fish. I doubt that the same locations are so abundant with wildlife though.
The box set is not cheap but it’s a special moment in time and is just as much about history than the wildlife itself. If you ever wanted to wonder where 40 years had disappeared to then settle down and watch this – you’ll be instantly transported back to your childhood when you used to race home from school to watch it.
Get taken back to an iconic time in marine exploration with the father of underwater exploration – Jacques Cousteau
The Undersea World of Jacques Cousteau may be 45 years old but the programmes in the box set still opens up the fascinating world of marine ecology. Cutting edge at the time you get to experience the wildlife of the seas and life aboard the Calypso. This box set does not just highlight the natural world but looking back in time you can also see the foundations of the modern environmental movement being laid down.
And can you believe that there used to be a time when Captain Jacques Cousteau was known?