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The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou (2004)

R  |   |  Adventure, Comedy, Drama  |  25 December 2004 (USA)
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Ratings: 7.3/10 from 129,691 users   Metascore: 62/100
Reviews: 628 user | 253 critic | 38 from

With a plan to exact revenge on a mythical shark that killed his partner, oceanographer Steve Zissou rallies a crew that includes his estranged wife, a journalist, and a man who may or may not be his son.


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Cast overview, first billed only:
Niels Koizumi ...
Pawel Wdowczak ...
Intern #1


When his partner is killed by the mysterious and possibly nonexistent Jaguar Shark, Steve Zissou and his Team Zissou crew set off for an expedition to hunt down the creature. Along with his estranged wife, a beautiful journalist and a co-pilot who could possibly be Zissou's son, the crew set off for one wild expedition. Written by FilmFanUK

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


The deeper you go, the weirder life gets

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for language, some drug use, violence and partial nudity | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:




Release Date:

25 December 2004 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

The Life Aquatic  »

Box Office


$50,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend:

$113,085 (USA) (10 December 2004)


$154,517 (Australia) (18 March 2005)

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

| |


Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


There is a direct Star Wars reference at around 01:06:30 as the Belafonte comes into Port Au Patois. The seaman on the crows nest is looking through a white pair of binoculars which look very similar to the macrobinoculars that Luke Skywalker uses on Hoth in Star Wars: Episode V - The Empire Strikes Back (1980). The following cut shows the view of Willem Dafoe through these binoculars as he is yelling "Port Au Patois" to the crew. This shot, seen from the POV of these binoculars, is almost identical to the look of Luke's macrobinoculars in Star Wars: Episode IV - A New Hope (1977) as he views the Tusken Raiders from the cliff top. So really, two Star Wars references. See more »


When Hennessy is speaking to Steve on his boat, there is a stain on his yellow couch that disappears and reappears in between shots. See more »


[first lines]
[in Italian]
Festival Director: Ladies and gentlemen, we are very pleased to welcome you to the world premiere of Part 1 of the newest film from a great favorite of ours here at Loquasto, Mr. Steve Zissou. A brief Q & A will immediately follow the screening. Thank you.
See more »

Crazy Credits

In memory of Jacques-Yves Cousteau and with gratitude to the Cousteau Society, which was not involved in the making of this film. See more »


References Jaws (1975) See more »


Written by Orri P. Dyrason, Kjartan Sveinsson, Jon Thor Birgisson, Georg Holm (as Geor G Holm), and Agust Aevar Gunnarsson
Performed by Sigur Rós
Courtesy of FatCat Records Ltd
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User Reviews

A Beautiful Modern Fantasy
27 August 2005 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

"The Life Aquatic" is most certainly an unusual film. It's something of a collage of colorful imagery, fragmented shots, quirky music, strange characters, bizarre situations, and amusing montages. But if one had seen Wes Anderson's previous films, one would expect nothing less.

It can't really be helped that there be a certain amount of hype around Anderson's name, after all, his films "Rushmore" and "The Royal Tenenbaums" both generated vast critical acclaim and three of this young director's four films have already received the Criterion DVD treatment. Is the buzz warranted? I say, absolutely. Anderson has created some of the most vibrant, vivid, unique, and off-beat films of the last decade, and "The Life Aquatic" is no exception.

The film follows Steve Zissou (Murray), a formerly glorious oceanographer whose latest documentary, which is about his closest friend and colleague, Esteban, being eaten by a "Jaguar Shark", receives a less-than-glorious reception. Steve then announces he plans to set out on a voyage to film part two of his documentary, which will follow him and his crew as they attempt to track down the alleged "Jaguar Shark". Along for the ride is Ned (Wilson), someone who may or may not be Steve's son; Jane (Blanchett), an up-and-coming journalist doing a story on Zissou; Klaus (Dafoe), the eccentric German first mate; a Portugese, David Bowie-covering weapons expert; a no-nonsense tech expert; a usually semi-nude female crew-member; a band of unpaid interns; and several other quirky personalities. Other characters include Zissou's estranged wife, Eleanor (Huston), and her former husband, Alistair Hennessey (Goldblum). On the journey, the crew encounters money problems, relationship issues, and...pirates.

The film takes place in a vivid world that is somewhat inside Steve's head. A colorful world where the creatures are claymation and where Steve can single-handedly ward off kidnapping, gun-wielding pirates to beat of The Stooges' "Search and Destroy".

I do warn you though, if you are not a fan of dry humor, this one's most likely not for you. The movie's loaded with it, in all of its off-beat, tongue-in-cheek anti-glory.

There are some wonderful acting performances throughout, including an exuberant Bill Murray, who just loses himself in the character of Zissou, a subdued Anjelica Huston, whose subtle sly grins and deadpan delivery develop her character far more than anything else, and a spirited Willem Dafoe, who manages to make a German accent sound funnier than I ever imagined it could.

If you enjoyed "Rushmore", "The Royal Tenenbaums", "Punch-Drunk Love", or "I Heart Huckabees", then you most certainly should not let this charming, oddly beautiful little film pass beneath your radar.


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