Whether you are a diver or non-diver alike, it’s hard not to be spellbound by Jacques Cousteau’s film - The Silent World (1956). This YouTube video brings you straight there, to the first underwater documentary that brings us to the mysterious depths of the ocean in rich colors.
Over the period of two years, Cousteau and his crew set sail on Calypso, shooting the documentary in various parts of the sea, passing through the wreck of a sunken ship. From hitching a ride on a giant turtle’s back to befriending a grouper, they showed us the innocence of human interaction with creatures of the deep blue.
However, in an era where things were sacrificed in the name of science, Cousteau believed the same. Certain scenes were disturbing to watch, such as the demonstration of dynamite fishing by a coral reef, it’s a sinking feeling that we mustn’t deny as a human for it gives us the sensibility that we have today. And perhaps it was through this film that had open Cousteau's eye to his actions, and spend most of his later life advocating for the silent underwater world, exploring and protecting the ocean environment and marine life.
“All life is part of a complex relationship in which each is dependent upon the others, taking from, giving to and living with all the rest.” ― Jacques-Yves Cousteau
What’s captivating about The Silent World was Cousteau’s soothing narrating style as a philosophical observer with a sense of uncanniness and touch of humor. A true beauty that went on winning the Academy Award and Palme d'Or. I highly recommend bingeing it in the silence of the night for full sensory submersion into the pioneering early days of underwater exploration.
And if after watching this film makes you wonder what Jacques Cousteau was like, head over here.
Words by Buranee Soh