20,000 Leagues Under the Sea is a marvelous exploration deep beneath the surface. Famed French author Jules Verne is known for his spot on predictions about the future. 1870 novel Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea accurately predicted highly advanced submarines. Submarines existed in the 19th century, but they were nothing compared to the Nautilus built by Captain Nemo. 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea was the first Disney movie released under the subsidiary Buena Vista. It’s far more mature with a respectable cast of old Hollywood A-listers.
Paul Lukas is the scientific Professor Pierre Aronnax, Peter Lorre is his underappreciated assistant Conseil, Kirk Douglas is the musical harpoon throwing tough guy Ned Land, and James Mason is the mysterious Captain Nemo. Though I’ve always known about 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, I never knew the whole story. The Professor, his assistant, and Land board the Nautilus under the assumption that it’s a monster wrecking ships at sea. Aside from a friendly seal, no character is without faults or ulterior motives. The Professor’s pursuit of knowledge nearly costs him his life and Conseil and Land plan to leave with Nemo’s undersea treasure.
Captain Nemo is slightly unhinged in his decision to abandon the world and live out at sea. Though Nemo actively hunts down warships, Mason is charismatic with understandable motivations. 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea is 2 hours longer than most 1950’s Disney movies, but there’s always something new to discover. Underwater shots are otherworldly and an island of cannibals wasn’t too surprising. The scene I most anticipated was the one with the fabled giant squid. The movie won 2 Academy Awards for Best Art Direction and Best Special Effects. The giant squid attack is especially impressive for the time. 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea is a submersible classic.