(aka "The Life Aquatic" or "Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou")

 

directed by Wes Anderson
USA 2004

Dedicated to Jacques Costeau, ”The Life Aquatic” is Wes Andersons third and final chapter of his ”the great search for the father figure” trilogy, which began in 1998 with ”Rushmore” and continued in 2001 with ”The Royal Tenenbaums”. Central to all father figures in this trilogy is, that they have been abandoned by those closest to them and seek a new purpose in life.

Having lost his best friend to a jaguar shark, which no one has seen or believes exist, Steve Zissou sets out on an expedition to find and kill it, although he must promise not to harm it. Joining him is his usual crew, a group of interns, a investigative journalist and his lost son, who, as the crew has no fondings, chips in his entire fortune.

Deeply in debt to Godard and borrowing motifs from Marcel Proust’s “└ la recherche du temps perdu” (to whom both Anderson creates a nice humorous homage), Zissou is not only a shadow of his former self, but not even a real person. When asked when he first learned about his lost son, he answers “I read it in an article about me some five years ago.”, a motif which Anderson further notes upon by defining Zissou as an equal part of the myth, just as the ship (The Belafonte – a nice homage to The Calypso), the red cap and the Speedos, and finally, after only the person Zissou is left, and they encounter the jaguar shark, all he can say is, “I wonder if he still remembers me?”.

The Jaguar shark thus becomes like a grail, as the each of the persons involved in the search, by the search, comes to terms with themselves and finds the answer they have been looking for.

At the same time it’s a film about filmmaking, and can be seen as an allegory on independent film, constantly staging itself, constantly discussing how to create the next scene.

One of the best films of the year, it is liberating to see such heavy motifs being discussed with so much self irony, without it ever losing its focus. Anderson has matured and become an even better director than on “The Royal Tenenbaums” and proves that he is an auteur to be reckoned with. A contemporary masterpiece.

Henrik Sylow

Posters

Theatrical Release: November 20, 2004 (Los Angeles, California)

Reviews    More Reviews  DVD Reviews

DVD Review: Criterion / Buena Vista (#300) - Region 1 - NTSC

Big thanks to Henrik Sylow for the Review!

DVD Box Cover

CLICK to order from:

Distribution

Criterion / Buena Vista (Criterion Spine #300)

Region 1 - NTSC

Runtime 1:58:44 (hereof 24 seconds Criterion / BV logo)
Video

2:32:1 Original Aspect Ratio

16X9 enhanced
Average Bitrate: 7.90 mb/s
NTSC 720x480 29.97 f/s

NOTE: The Vertical axis represents the bits transferred per second. The Horizontal is the time in minutes.

Bitrate

Audio 5.1 Dolby Digital English, DTS English
Subtitles English, French, Spanish, None
Features Release Information:
Studio: Criterion / Buena Vista

Aspect Ratio:
Widescreen anamorphic - 2:32:1

Edition Details:
• Audio commentary by Wes Anderson and Noah Baumbach
• Starz on the Set (14:32 / 4:3)
• 9 Deleted Scenes (4:35 / 4:3)
• Trailer (2:27 / 16x9)
• Jane Winslett-Richardson (3:28 / 4:3)
• The Look Aquatic (5:30 / 4:3)
• Creating a Scene (4:42 / 4:3)
• Mark Motherbaugh (19:04 / 16:9)
• Mondo Monda (16:23 / 4:3) * no subs (italian burned)
• Seu Jorge performs David Bowie (40:01 / 4:3)
• Aquatic Life (7:54 / 4:3)
• Estaban du Plantier (7:09 / 4:3)
• Ned Plimpton (2:57 / 4:3)
• This is an Adventure (51:23 / 4:3)
• Intern video diary (15:22 / 4:3)

 

DOUBLE-DISC EDITION SPECIAL FEATURES:

• Commentary by Wes Anderson and co-writer Noah Baumbach
• Ten deleted scenes (see above)
• “Starz on the Set”: behind-the-scenes featurette
• Theatrical trailer

PLUS:

• This Is an Adventure, a documentary by Antonio Ferrera, Albert Maysles, and Matthew Prinzing chronicling the production of the movie
• Mondo Monda, an Italian talk show featuring an interview with Wes Anderson and Noah Baumbach, with host Antonio Monda
• New video interview with composer and Devo member Mark Mothersbaugh
Ten complete video performances of David Bowie songs in Portuguese by Brazilian recording artist and actor Seu Jorge (Pele┤ dos Santos)
• Intern video journal by actor and real-life intern Matthew Gray Gubler (Intern #1)
• Multiple interviews with the cast and crew with behind-the-scenes footage
• Behind-the-scenes photos and original artwork from the film
• A fold-out insert featuring a cutaway of the Belafonte, with Eric Anderson’s original illustrations, and a conversation between Wes and Eric conducted in 2005

DVD Release Date: May 10, 2005
Double keep case

Chapters 31

 

Comments The Image
The image is surprisingly not 1016px, but only 960px, as it comes from a High-Definition master. It is not as perfect as one could have wished for. While it is stunning, some scenes have problems with halos and especially the color red tends to bleed (perhaps this is intended, but having seen it three times theatrically, I don't recall such strong red in the theatres).

The worst problem, and this may be a disc or batch flaw, is that the single frame marking chapter change is distorted, some only minor displaying combing, others severe as shown in image #7.

But despite these points, the overall image, especially night and underwater scenes are stunning. The deep blues and black are solid, and colors and details are extremely sharp.

The Sound
The sound is either 5.1 Dolby Digital or DTS ES. They are very similar, but the DTS may be slightly better. This is not a film that excels in glorious surround sound, so it really is hard to hear distinct differences.

The Extras
On Disc 1 is besides a trailer, a behind the scenes and a few deleted scenes, a commentary with Anderson and Baumbach, which sounds as if its recorded in a cafe or restaurant (there are people talking in the back and cutlery being handled). Its a good commentary, where they go into details about production and somewhat about the scenes themselves, but it is not near as good as the commentary on "The Royal Tenenbaum".

Disc 2 is a mess. Three small featurettes about the characters, one about making a scene and one about the costumes, are basically fillers. Then comes a 16 minute interview from Italian TV without English subtitles, 40 minutes musical clips by Seu Jorge, an interview with composer Mark Motherbaugh (which is really good) and a somewhat disappointing "shot on video documentary-like" 50 minute making of. I am not impressed, especially not for a Criterion release.

The small featurettes are simply too brief to really give us an in depth perspective in the character, costumes and art design. Why the Italian interview isn't subtitled is a damn good questions, so its only useful if you understand the question asked.

The true gem is the Intern video diary (shot by Intern #1 - real life intern Matthew Gray Gubler).

The other true gem is the artwork by Wes' brother Eric Anderson, on both cover, menus and in a fold-out insert, which displays the Belafonta and has an interview with Wes and Eric Anderson. A nice touch and a brilliant use of the insert.

NOTE: This DVD comes in two versions: A single disc (Disc 1 only) version and a more expensive ($3 to be exact) two disc version (see extras above).

 - Henrik Sylow

 





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Captures resized to 800px from 960px native resolution

 

 

 


 

 

 


 

 

 


 

 

 


 

 

 


 

 

 


 
example of error during chapter begins

 

 

DVD Box Cover

CLICK to order from:

Distribution

Criterion / Buena Vista

Region 1 - NTSC

 

 


 




 

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