In Wes Anderson’s The Life Aquatic With Steve Zissou, Zissou consciously deluded himself into thinking he can eliminate death, the Jaguar Shark. In this vein, the Jaguar Shark can also be seen as our capacity for fooling ourselves, he’s a capable killer animal we always lose when we gamble with.
Bill Murray playing Zissou is not a caring person and is never bothered with the safety of his crew, his negligence put his crew at great risk and cost him the closest thing he had to a son. Zissou’s adventures serve only one selfish purpose, an ephemeral illusion of achieving greatness through exploring the ocean, life, free of worry and constraints and without any fear of death. In his first encounter with the Jaguar Shark, Zissou loses his lifetime’s best friend, he ventured forward, disrespectfully, satisfying his lust for adventure unaware that the freedom to even live is a passing pleasure. He pays dearly. In the second encounter, he’s disillusioned and feeble, life’s abhorrent facts have hit him hard, the adventurer is no longer free from earth’s shackles.
Death, the gradual process, makes our lives an illusion with delusions, a passing waking dream filled with terrifying Jaguar Shark encounters when we delude ourselves and suffer. Whether you respect or disrespect death, he is consuming you, without even knowing you, which brings Zissou to tears in the final scene while being consoled by his companions. Maybe companionship makes life bearable.
Eternal death is comforting, however, because our pains and burdens are as momentary as our joys.