The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou: Captain Ahab with his Tongue Firmly in his Cheek

A Yellow Submarine

If an uncategorized animal ate your best friend, is it your duty as a marine biologist to study it, or kill it?

Steve Zissou (played by Bill Murray) decides that scientific inquiry will take a back seat to unmitigated revenge. In this film, which is equally parts homage to Jacques Costeau and light hearted Moby Dick allegory, we’re taken on a journey that follows an extraordinary cast that is so exceedingly comfortable¬†with their surroundings, they require no time to process the spectacle that unfolds around them.

Wes Anderson has a visual style all his own. The hyper realism of colors and extra wide lenses make the audience feel like red, velvety curtains should open before each of his features, since they present themselves more as larger than life play. But he asks more of his audience than to serve merely as spectators.

West, Ned

In the Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou, one of Bill Murray’s best performances during his career resurgence, the audience gets to serve as straight man to the insanity unfolding onscreen. We slowly see that it isn’t that these characters are callous or zany, but they simply move on from one action to the next with little time to pause and reflect. I think these characteristics make this movie even more human. We get to laugh with people and be culpable in their irresponsibility for laughing instead of dealing with these problems. All of the emotional build up just serves the ending in the best way, making it resonate even more since we have such highs and lows to travel between.

Of special note is the sublime soundtrack by Soe Jorge, consisting entirely of acoustic David Bowie covers performed in Portugese.

This entire movie, just like the journey it follows, is otherworldy, but its heart is entirely human.


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