World without Sun (Jacques-Yves Cousteau, 1964) 🇺🇸
Eight years after the release of his film The Silent World (1956), Captain Cousteau directed this second innovative documentary, worthy of a Jules Verne novel. This human adventure tells the story of a team of "oceanauts" sent to live in an underwater village for a month. It’s a scientific experiment called "Precontinent II".
Like a colony of giant sea urchins, several stations, backed by a coral reef are centred around the base built in the shape of a starfish. In the depths of the abyssal blackness 26 metres down, divers can find refuge in cages in case of shark attacks.
Darkness reigns supreme. At the outset, a voice-over informs us: "the diving saucer returns from a world where the sun never shines". Alarming creatures, dazzled by the camera's flashes, brush past the small, disc-shaped submarine. A carnivorous starfish savagely pursues a terrified scallop, submerging the camera in a cloud of dust. You'd think you were in the middle of an action movie where the hero is a giant barracuda.
Our hero shares the limelight with a parrot which was sent by the commander as a guinea pig to test the oceanauts' resistance to the high pressure inside their helium capsule. It's a strange world where male voices climb comically high, where beards grow more slowly, and cigarettes burn out twice as fast!
Outside the portholes, however, the fish seem indifferent to these human oddities and gracefully continue their pelagic choreography, carrying with them the secret of a sunless world.
Check out the French version of this article.