The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou | Wikipedia audio article

The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou is a 2004
American comedy-drama film directed, co-written, and co-produced by Wes Anderson. It is Anderson’s fourth feature-length film
and was released in the United States on December 25, 2004. It was written by Anderson and Noah Baumbach
and was filmed in and around Naples, Ponza, and the Italian Riviera. The film stars Bill Murray as the eponymous
Steve Zissou, an eccentric oceanographer who sets out to exact revenge on the “jaguar shark”
that ate his partner Esteban. Zissou is both a parody of and homage to French
diving pioneer Jacques Cousteau (1910–1997), to whom the film is dedicated. Cate Blanchett, Willem Dafoe, Michael Gambon,
Jeff Goldblum, Anjelica Huston, Owen Wilson, Seu Jorge, and Bud Cort are also featured
in the film. The film was released to mixed reviews and
was a box office flop. Since release, it has garnered a cult following,
and is now viewed more positively by critics.==Plot==
While oceanographer Steve Zissou is working on his latest documentary at sea, his best
friend and chief diver, Esteban du Plantier, is eaten by a creature Zissou describes as
a “jaguar shark”. For his next project, Zissou is determined
to document the shark’s destruction. The crew aboard Zissou’s aging research vessel
Belafonte includes his estranged wife Eleanor, chief strategist and financial backer; Pelé
dos Santos, a safety expert and Brazilian guitarist who sings David Bowie songs in Portuguese;
and Klaus Daimler, the German first mate who views Zissou and Esteban as father figures. Minor crew members include Vikram Ray, cameraman;
Bobby Ogata, frogman; Vladimir Wolodarsky, physicist and soundtrack composer; Renzo Pietro,
sound man; and Anne-Marie Sakowitz, script girl. Also included is a recent group of unpaid
interns from the University of North Alaska. However, the “Team Zissou” venture has hit
a decline; they have not released a successful documentary in nine years. Ned Plimpton is a longtime Zissou fan whose
mother has recently died, and he believes that Zissou is his father. After they meet at Zissou’s latest premiere,
Ned takes leave from his job as an airline pilot in Kentucky to join his crew. As Oseary Drakoulias, Zissou’s producer, can
not find anyone to finance their latest documentary, Ned offers his inheritance. Eleanor feels her husband is taking advantage
of Ned and leaves. A pregnant reporter, Jane Winslett-Richardson,
comes to chronicle the voyage. Both Ned and Zissou are infatuated with Jane,
and a rivalry develops between them. Klaus becomes envious of the attention Zissou
pays to Ned. On their mission to find the jaguar shark,
the Belafonte steals tracking equipment from a remote station owned by Alistair Hennessey,
a more successful oceanographer and Zissou’s nemesis. They then sail into unprotected waters and
are attacked by Filipino pirates, who steal Ned’s money and kidnap Bill Ubell, a “bond
company stooge” assigned to the project. They are then rescued by Hennessey and towed
to Port-au-Patois. Sakowitz, along with all but one of the interns,
jump ship once they reach port. Zissou convinces Eleanor to rejoin the Belafonte,
and then leads the crew on a rescue mission. They track Bill to an abandoned hotel on a
remote island, saving him along with Hennessey, whom the pirates have also kidnapped. Ned and Zissou then make one last search for
the shark in the ship’s helicopter, but the aircraft malfunctions and they crash. Ned dies from his injuries and is buried at
sea. Prior to Ned’s death, Eleanor revealed to
Jane that Zissou is sterile, therefore Ned could not have been his son. Zissou finally tracks down the shark in a
submersible but he decides not to kill it, both because of its beauty and not having
any more dynamite. At the premiere of the finished documentary
(which is dedicated to Ned), Zissou receives a standing ovation while waiting outside the
theater for the premiere to finish. The crew returns triumphantly to the ship
the next day.==Cast==
Bill Murray as Steve Zissou Owen Wilson as Edward “Ned” Plimpton/Kingsley
Zissou Cate Blanchett as Jane Winslett-Richardson
Anjelica Huston as Eleanor Zissou Willem Dafoe as Klaus Daimler
Jeff Goldblum as Alistair Hennessey Michael Gambon as Oseary Drakoulias
Bud Cort as Bill Ubell, “Bond Company Stooge” Noah Taylor as Vladimir Wolodarsky
Seu Jorge as Pelé dos Santos Robyn Cohen as Anne-Marie Sakowitz
Waris Ahluwalia as Vikram Ray Niels Koizumi as Bobby Ogata
Pawel Wdowczak as Renzo Pietro Matthew Gray Gubler as Nico, Intern #1
Antonio Monda as himself Isabella Blow as Antonia Cook
Seymour Cassel as Esteban du Plantier==Production=====Literary inspiration===
Though the characters were inspired by such American novels as The Great Gatsby and The
Magnificent Ambersons, the plot has been compared to Moby-Dick.Writing about the metaphorical
aspects of the film’s setting—somewhere in the Mediterranean—film critic Elena Past
says that the underwater scenes, because they are central to the storyline, make The Life
Aquatic similar in some ways to Respiro. Both films set out a “Mediterranean state
of being” where “having left the security of land, the characters in both films are
suddenly confronted with the precarious nature of human existence, as the films that depict
them tackle the challenges of representing the submarine world.”===
Music===The soundtrack to The Life Aquatic with Steve
Zissou contains a style typical of other Wes Anderson films. Mark Mothersbaugh, a member of Devo, composed
the score, as he has for many of Anderson’s other films. The film also features many rock songs from
the 1960s-1980s, and several instrumental pieces composed by Sven Libaek for the underwater
documentary television series Inner Space. Additionally, the film and soundtrack feature
Seu Jorge performing David Bowie songs in Portuguese on the acoustic guitar. Jorge, who also plays the character of Pelé
dos Santos, performs some of these cover songs live, in character during the film, mostly
with modified lyrics reflecting Jorge’s own experiences working on the film. The ending scene depicting the beauty of the
shark features the song “Starálfur” by Sigur Rós. The Life Aquatic is Anderson’s first film
not to feature a Rolling Stones song.==Reception=====Box office===
The film grossed a total of $24,020,403 domestically after twelve weeks in release, less than half
its $50 million production budget. It took in a further $10,788,000 internationally,
bringing the total gross to $34,808,403.===Critical response===
Initial reviews of the film were mixed. The film has a 56% approval rating on Rotten
Tomatoes, based on 213 reviews, with an average rating of 6.1/10; the website’s consensus
states: “Much like the titular oceanographer, The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou’s overt
irony may come off as smug and artificial — but for fans of Wes Anderson’s unique brand
of whimsy, it might be worth the dive.” The film has a 62/100 weighted average score
on Metacritic, indicating “generally favorable reviews”.Anthony Lane, a film reviewer for
The New Yorker, agreed with the conventional criticism of Anderson’s deadpan style: that
the underreaction of Anderson’s characters used to be “hip” but has now become “frozen
into a mannerism.” He said that “some stretches of action” in
the film are being “lightly held within quotation marks,” with an “unmistakable air of playacting”
in even the most violent scenes. He also criticized the film’s deliberately
“weird” set ups, which leave the viewer with “the impression of having nearly drowned in
some secret and melancholy game.”In the years since its initial release it has developed
a cult following, and it underwent a critical revaluation. Many critics view it more favorably, and some,
such as Mike D’Angelo of The A.V. Club, consider the film to still be “undervalued”
when compared to the rest of Anderson’s filmography.===Accolades=====
Home media==Two home video formats of the film were released
on DVD in May 10, 2005: a 1-disc version and a 2-disc version, both as part of the Criterion
Collection. This is Anderson’s third film to be released
in the collection, after Rushmore and The Royal Tenenbaums. The Criterion Blu-ray was released on May
27, 2014.==References in the culture==
Mexican rock band Belafonte Sensacional take their name inspired in this movie.==See also==
SAS Walvisbaai, the ship used as the R/V Belafonte

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