World Without Sun, a documentary produced and directed by Jacques Cousteau in 1964 chronicles Continental Shelf Station Two, or "Conshelf Two", the first ambitious attempt to create an environment in which men could live and work on the sea floor. In it, a half-dozen oceanauts lived 10 meters down in the Red Sea off Sudan in a star-fish shaped house for 30 days. The undersea living experiment also had two other structures, one a submarine hangar that housed a small, two man submarine referred to as the "diving saucer" for its resemblance to a science fiction flying saucer, and a smaller "deep cabin" where two oceanauts lived at a depth of 30 meters for a week. The undersea colony was supported with air, water, food, power, all essentials of life, from a large support team above. Men on the bottom performed a number of experiments intended to determine the practicality of working on the sea floor and were subjected to continual medical examinations. The documentary, 93 minutes long, received wide international theatrical distribution, and was awarded an Academy Award for Best Documentary, as well as numerous other honors. It was Cousteau's second film to win Best Documentary, the first being "The Silent World" released in 1956.
Funded in part by the French petrochemical industry, the Conshelf Two experiment was originally intended to demonstrate the practicality of exploitation of the sea using underwater habitats as base stations. In the end Cousteau repudiated such an approach, turning his efforts instead toward conservation. The lyrical and dramatic underwater sequences also, ironically, likely contributed to the beginning of an era of ocean conservation as well as incidentally promoting sport diving. Memorable sequences inolve men cavorting with fishes, an underwater chess game, and the diving saucer reaching depths of 300 meters, encountering new and unique forms of life.
Reviews of the film were overwhelming positive, although the film did come under some criticism around accusations of "faking" footage, most notably by New York Times reviewer Bosley Crowther who questioned the authenticity of two of the film's more dramatic scenes. Cousteau took great offense, going to some length in future publications to describe and defend the difficult and innovative techniques used to create the film.