ZISSOU, Steve, Capt.
USA (1950- )
Last updated: March 30, 2020 at 15:46 pm
Fictional oceanographer and diver from Wes Anderson’s cult film The Life Aquatic (Touchstone Pictures, 2004); disgruntled leader of Team Zissou; Captain of the research vessel Belafonte; suffered from acute hydrogen psychosis (a.k.a. Crazy Eye) after his associate and friend Esteban du Plantier was eaten— chewed—by the jaguar shark; a.k.a. Stevesy and Papa Steve. The character of Steve Zissou is a parody and tribute to Jacques-Yves Cousteau, to whom The Life Aquatic was dedicated. Zissou’s research vessel, the Belafonte, was made to resemble Cousteau’s famed Calypso. Other notable characters in the film are played by Cate Blanchett, Willem Dafoe, Michael Gambon, Jeff Goldblum, Anjelica Huston, Owen Wilson, and Bud Cort.
“This is an adventure.”
“I’m right on the edge. I don’t know what comes next.”
“That’s your first question? I thought this was supposed to be a puff piece.”
“Supposedly Cousteau and his cronies invented the idea of putting walkie-talkies into the helmet. But we made ours with a special rabbit ear on the top so we could pipe in some music.”
“Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to go on an overnight drunk, and in 10 days I’m going to set out to find the shark that ate my friend and destroy it. Anyone who wants to join me is more than welcome.”
[speaking of the jaguar shark] “I’m going to fight it, but I’ll let it live. What about my dynamite?”
“Nobody knows what’s going to happen. And then we film it. That’s the whole concept.”
“If you’re not against me, don’t cross this line! If yes, do.”
“You never say, “I’m gonna fight you, Steve.” You just smile and act natural, and then you sucker-punch him.”
“Don’t point that gun at him, he’s an unpaid intern.”
[before a helicopter crash] “This is gonna hurt.”
“We’ll give them the reality this time. A washed-up old man with no friends, no distribution deal, wife on the rocks, people laughin’ at him, feelin’ sorry for himself.”
“It’s probably the last adventure I’ve got in me. I was hopin’ to go out in a flash of blazes, but I’ll probably just end up goin’ home.”
— Capt. Steve Zissou
If you are not a fan of parodies, I highly recommend watching L’Odyssée (2016) (English title: The Odyssey), a French-Belgian biographical film on Jacques-Yves Cousteau directed by Jérôme Salle, which is based on the non-fiction book Capitaine de La Calypso by Albert Falco and Yves Paccalet. Watch the trailer with English subtitles in the video section below.
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Jeffrey Gallant is the Editor-in-Chief and Records Keeper of the Diving Almanac. He is also a contributing editor of DIVER Magazine, and the scientific director of the Greenland Shark and Elasmobranch Education and Research Group (GEERG). Jeffrey started diving in 1982.