I think there are two stories to tell about Cousteau: The first is technological achievements. The second is the carefully crafted media personality that hid a lot of lies and hypocracy. I don't think that movie really did either story justice.
I got a copy of Cousteau's first book The Silent World... And it is truly amazing what they did in the many years before they got the Calypso. Surviving lethal mistakes in filling tanks near a carbon monoxide source, cave diving, wreck diving, deep diving, photography. Much of it during the NAZI occupation of France. Then the miraculous donation of the Calypso from a benefactor. And then an equally miraculous sponsorship by the oil industry in return for supplying geological date to the oil companies in the middle east. This is where the money came from to develop DPVs, the minisub saucer, and Conshelf I, II, III, and IV. Combined with our own US Navy George Bond's saturation diving techniques, these were HUGE technical achievements that the oil industry benefited from and evolved into the deep diving methods used today. The oil based prosperity we enjoy today can be partially credited to Cousteau's contributions to finding oil and developing diving technology.
But then Cousteau got into this "Ambassador to the Oceans" phase. Where it was all about making pretty TV shows, National Geopgraphic articles, and saving the oceans. I think it was Rachel Carson or Eugenie Clark who stated, "Cousteau is not a scientist"... But that's what the public thought he was... a research scientist. He completely abandoned and even slandered his former sponsors, the oil companies. And he forced his family to conspire with him to hide his extramarital affairs... What a cruel thing to do to your family. What we saw on TV in the '70s was a carefully crafted media personality... Not the truth.
But who am I to judge? Great men throughout history have been less than perfect family men. Maybe that's not what they were put here for. Personally, I am so thankful for the AquaLung... It continues to bring joy to my life everyday. And I appreciate the wealth and prosperity that came from Cousteaus contributions to deep water diving technology. And yes, I enjoyed the TV shows, too.
Maybe the personal story would have been better left untold.
The Freedom and Simplicity of Vintage Equipment and
Vintage Diving Technique are Why I Got Back Into Diving.