Cousteau should have hung his head in shame
I was looking forward to finally catching up with this old documentary and was saddened to see that despite the advances in underwater photography (in 1955), which brought the undersea life vividly to the screen, that every other aspect of the film was embarrassingly dated. I am referring specifically to the appalling behavior of the crew of the Calypso who bear scant resemblance to any naturalists and scientists we know of today, without an ounce of respect for the animals they encounter. Who in their right mind would set off dynamite in a lagoon, destroying coral reef and killing countless numbers of fish?? The only wildlife that gets off unscathed are the dolphins in the early part of the film – otherwise, everything else that gets in the path of the “explorers” is eaten, tormented, or killed outright: when they see a whale they rush on deck to harpoon it; when sharks start to work on the whale carcass, the men haul shark after shark on deck and feverishly beat them to death under the (highly scientific) rationale that “everybody hates sharks”; when they find a giant sea turtle they clutch on to it for a ride without any concern that it is struggling to the surface to breathe; when they find a group of tortoises on an island their only thoughts are to first stand on them and then use them for stools while they have lunch. Even good old Cousteau gets into the spirit of things by bringing his rifle on deck and shooting a whale in the head (well, it was probably suffering after they ran over it with the boat and then later harpooned it).
These guys would be up on criminal charges if they’d made this film today. Worth watching only as a historical curio to see how unenlightened people were back then.