Captain of the first rank
The future captain Cousteau was born on June 11, 1910 in Saint-André-de-Cube-zack, not far from Bordeaux, in the family of a lawyer. The Cousteau family moved a lot from place to place and often lived in America, where Jacques spent most of his childhood. Returning to France, Cousteau began to study, which was marked by one rather interesting circumstance: he was expelled from the last class for breaking glass in the study room. However, this did not prevent the young hooligan from becoming a cadet of the prestigious Higher National Naval School of France. In 1933, the young lieutenant receives the first appointment. A little later, Cousteau, fascinated by advanced technology and high speeds, transferred to naval aviation. Cousteau’s dreams of heaven did not come true: soon the novice pilot was involved in a car accident. His right arm was broken, and his left hand was still. About-
Many months of treatment went on before the activity of the hand was restored, although the physicians strongly suggested that Jacques-Yves Cousteau take away his hand to get rid of gangrene. By the time of the accident, Cousteau was twenty-six years old. The collapse of all hope? By no means.
“Happy is the one who manages to understand in time: his life has changed, it’s time to drop everything old, get inspired by new things and rush to new horizons,” he will later write in one of his books. “It happened to me that day when I opened my eyes to the sea.” Cousteau, who returned after the accident in the fleet, spent almost all his free time in the company of new friends, officers Philippe Taye and Frederic Dumas. Doctors prescribed Cousteau sea baths, and Taye and Dumas were avid divers. Once they offered Cousteau to dive under the water in uncomfortable glasses, which were then used only by divers for clams. Cousteau agreed, dived and emerged, having already acquired a new meaning of life. While Cousteau was under water, France lost miserably to a fleeting war on Hitler, the Allies bombed her fleet. Cousteau was demobilized and continued to dive in the coastal waters of the Var department. Under the guise of a subtle eccentric engineer, fascinated by sea diving, an active participant in the Resistance movement hid: what is at least an episode when Cousteau and his comrades, dressed in Nazi uniform, visited the fascist commandant’s office in Italy, stole important documents and successfully disappeared! For his subversive activities after the war, Cousteau will receive the highest award of France – the Order of the Legion of Honor.
In the intervals between the development of sabotage operations, Cousteau did not lose time in vain – together with his friend, engineer Emil Ganian, he invented an elegant apparatus for breathing under water. In other words, Cousteau and Ganian invented the modern scuba known to us all. After the invention of the aqualung, Cousteau was financially secure and could do what he liked, without paying much attention to expenses. In 1950, Cousteau went to Malta, where he acquired a minesweeper J-826, decommissioned as a reserve for the British naval forces, and converted it into an oceanic laboratory. Cousteau calls the ship “Calypso” in honor of the nymph, who for seven years kept Odyssey on her island. Now you can proceed to what Cousteau dreamed of from that very first dive in glasses – to underwater filming.
Already a venerable navigator, Cousteau liked to emphasize in an interview: “Science is not really my business. 1 I invent devices, let scientists use them! ”His real passion was cinema. The first film camera fell into Cousteau’s hands at the age of 13: his father bought it to shoot family celebrations. This was the beginning of passion: little Jacques himself built the scenery, filmed and showed film. Already in 1942, Cousteau created a film production company under the comic name “United Sharks”. Her first release was the eighteen-minute film “18 meters under water”, composed of many passages shot under water by the inseparable trinity Couste – Taye – Didi.
In 1954, Cousteau went to the first serious underwater film expedition – to the Red Sea and the Indian Ocean. As a cameraman on board the Calypso, young cinematographer Louis Malle, the most famous French-American director in the future, is rising. Two years later, Cousteau and Mal let out the film “In the world of silence”, which is still considered the best about the underwater life. The picture immediately receives the “Golden Palm” in Cannes and the “Oscar” in America. Next year – the new film “Golden Fish”, and again the prize at the Cannes Film Festival, and again the Oscar! The third main prize of the American Film Academy was received by Cousteau for the film “A World Without a Sun”, shot during the project “Precontinent III” – life in “underwater houses”.
Cousteau and the Calypso team are becoming the favorite heroes of newspapers and television reports. One of the most devoted adherents of Cousteau is the British writer and special correspondent of the Sandy Times, Jan Fleming: his reports from the Calypso enjoy tremendous success with the British public. The knowledge gained on board the Calypso, Fleming inserts in his novels about the adventures of James Bond: hence the constant interest of 007 to the underwater world and the frequent fights of the hero with the villains under water. Cousteau finds a sunken ancient Greek vessel full of wine amphorae near Marseille, goes to the Antarctic and for the first time in the world removes underwater icebergs. Among the icebergs, the Calypso receives damage and becomes a repair at Punta Arenas in the Strait of Magellan. It does not matter: stay in the southernmost city of the world Cousteau used to create a “land” film about the life of the Indians of Tierra del Fuego. In 1977, the first episode of the famous Cousteau Underwater Odyssey television series is released. Singer John Denver writes a song “Calypso” about Cousteau, which takes the first place in the US charts. The famous red knitted hat of a tanned gray-haired Frenchman becomes a symbol of post-war mass culture. Over dark water In July 1969, the Calypso was anchored off one of the Aleutian Islands in the Pacific. Under the keel of the vessel at a depth of 180 meters, the investigator Cousteau Raymond Kohl conducted research on the underwater canyon. At this time, the American cosmonaut Neil Armstrong stepped onto the surface of the moon, and his voice sounded in a radio on the Calypso. Cousteau recalls: “Armstrong and Kohl simultaneously told us about what they had seen. The astronauts were in an alien, scary, lifeless world, and the ocean-goer, on the contrary, described us flocks of large shrimps, graceful gorgonians, clusters of huge Kamchatka crabs trying to hide in the cracks of underwater rocks. The moon was dead, and life was in full swing in the ocean. We are even more aware that we are the happy owners of the priceless wealth – the planet Earth. ” Cousteau was the first to start exploring practically the possibility of man’s seabed exploration, and he was the first to declare the struggle to preserve the purity of the waters of the ocean. In 1960, Cousteau blocked the rails of a train in which radioactive waste was brought to the sea for subsequent burial. The annals of the purity of the environment movement included Cousteau’s response to President de Gaulle, who asked him to be “kinder” with a nuclear scientist: “No, nuclear scientists must be kinder to us!” “We cannot afford to poison the sea for ever the very time when they just started to comprehend what it can give to science, philosophy, art ”. In the early 1960s, Cousteau began to implement the global plan “Conschelf”, the purpose of which was to study the offshore zone rich in natural resources of the world ocean and its habitation. In September 1962, the first underwater station of Cousteau was installed in the Mediterranean, and soon underwater houses were added to it in the Red Sea (on the Shab-Rumi reef) and at a depth of one hundred and ten meters near Monaco. Another of Cousteau’s work is studying the habits of the inhabitants of the world’s oceans. Cousteau expeditions observed whales in the waters of the Antarctic, studied the life of freshwater sharks and dolphins in the lakes of Central America. Cousteau died in 1997 at the age of 87. “Captain Cousteau will be remembered not only as a pioneer of his time, but also as a figure who played an important role in world history,” said US President Ronald Reagan in 1985. Basketball player Shaquille O’Neal on a television show in the spring of 2007 determined this role very simply: “I would like to be called Shak Cousteau”.