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Film / World Without Sun

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World Without Sun is a 1964 documentary by Jacques Cousteau.

It recounts his and his crew's stay aboard "Conshelf Two", an underwater research station in the Red Sea off the coast of Sudan. Cousteau and the five men in his crew spend thirty days inside the Conshelf Two, ten meters below the surface of the Red Sea. Below the main Conshelf Two station is a "deep cabin" thirty meters below the surface in which two crewmembers spend a week after diving down from the main station. Conshelf Two also has a docking station for a submersible vehicle that Cousteau and another crewmember use to dive to 281m (the English narration states "923 feet") below the surface.

Cousteau and his crew explore the reef, taking films of the Red Sea and collecting samples of aquatic wildlife. (One scene shows a fish getting frustrated at its inability to eat the smaller fish that's been caught in Cousteau's net.) The other objective was, as Cousteau explains, to show that "oceanauts" could live and work underwater.


Compare Cousteau's other Oscar-winning documentary, The Silent World.


  • Awesome, but Impractical: In his narration Cousteau imagines that humans will continue to live and work under the sea. Although underwater habitats do have their advantages, limitations such as a lack of mobility, and the later advance of robotic underwater probes, have resulted in underwater habitats being mostly discontinued not long after this movie was made.
  • Everybody Smokes: There they are, in an underwater research station, breathing a carefully controlled atmosphere, in a situation where a fire would kill them all. And they're smoking pipes.
  • Helium Speech: The special air mix that the two guys in the "deep cabin" breathe at 30 meters deep includes helium. So they get the high-pitched voice, as one oceanaut humorously demonstrates.
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  • In Medias Res: Starts with Cousteau's submarine moving through the ghostly ocean, looking cool. It's not until later that Cousteau explains the setup of the Conshelf II station and the objectives of the expedition.
  • Manipulative Editing: As the submersible rises up from some 280m deep, Cousteau and Falco make a detour into an underwater tunnel, which leads to a cave, which has air inside, which Falco actually breathes when he opens up the hatch of the submersible and sticks his head out. This was called out at the time as being fake. It turns out that this particular scene was filmed during a completely different expedition in the Mediterranean.
  • Narrator: Cousteau in his iconic French accent.
  • Nature Documentary: Jacques Cousteau exploring the Red Sea. At one point he glimpses a weird-looking fish crawling over the coral bed and admits he has no idea what it is. (It was a frogfish.)
  • Scenery Porn: Some gorgeous underwater photography.
  • Title Drop: The last line.
    Cousteau: Further adventures await oceanauts in the world without sun.
  • Video Phone: The folks in the Conshelf II dial up Cousteau's wife on a video phone to arrange for the delivery of supplies.

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