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This film was made in 1954, which to be honest with the picture you can tell, as they have come along was since them days. The film starts with something in the sea that's glowing moving towards a ship, and then it blows up the ship. The film then jumps to a town meeting and are talking about a monster, the town seems to be split between who thinks there is a monster and who does not. Which then ends up in a town brawl.
Several men end up going on as ship in search for this sea monster to find out if its real or not and they search months before they decides that there is really no such thing, and decide to head back. Just as they are heading back they see another ship in the distance blow up, so they head off towards it, to see what they can see. They come across the sea monster, and use the cannons to try and kill the monster, but the boat ends up colliding with the monster, and two men get left stranded in the water. They come across a submarine which they believe has been the monster all along, and go to investigate. There seems to be no one on board the submarine, The men who own the submarine come back and spot the men and take them prisoner. They are then shown just what captain Nemo is all about with his posh diving and sea farming equipment, it becomes apparent what the Captain is after doing and what he is all about.
The film runs for two hours which is two hours of my life I will never get back and feel I have wasted. I mean maybe in 1954 this could have been seen as a good film, but I would have expected more from a Disney film. I mean don't get me wrong the acting of the film were good, I see better these days but for back then they were good. But obviously because it was along time before I was even born there was only one actor I knew that was Kirk Douglas. So the acting was good for this film but that was about it. This is not a film I really remember much about now as I soon got bored and did not pay as much attention to what was happening.
Some people may like this film and enjoy it but it just was not for me and I found it to be far to long without a great story behind it. The film was just not god enough to keep me interested. It kept me interested until we found out the monster was a submarine, and then it went downhill from there. Not one I would recommend to watch.
I can remember when the Wonderful World of Disney came on Saturday nights, and great family films aired. This was a film that came up every so often over the years, and such was the quality that my school actually showed it to us in class when I was in 6th grade. I loved the film then, and when I saw it was available to rent from Amazon, I grabbed it. I mentioned we were watching it to my Mom, and she then bought us a copy, and sent it to us from the US. Once again, there were many features on the Region 1 disc that are not on the Region 2 disc. I will go into that in a bit.
Firstly, in case you are not familiar with the Jules Verne story, or have not seen the film either, you should know that it is a story that takes place under the sea. Wow, you did not see that coming from the title, did you? The premise is that shortly after the American Civil War, several ships are sunk "by a whale with a great horn". Professor Ned Land (Paul Lukas) decides he must discover the truth about the fabled beast, and undertakes a sea voyage with his aide Conseil (Peter Lorre). Their ship is sunk, and they, along with the ship's harpoon master (Kirk Douglas), discover the whale beast is actually a metal submarine called The Nautilus and captained by the despotic egomaniac Captain Nemo (played with great panache by Jason Mason). They are taken aboard, and shown the future Nemo envisions, with advanced diving equipment and sea farming, and experience adventure and wonders whilst aboard ship.
The visualisation belies the era it was filmed (1954). Even the Technicolor it was filmed in was used for best visual impact as the heroic professor's bright clothes speak volumes against the gothicly clad Nemo, setting the mood and tension between the characters. The Nautilus itself is reminiscent of modern day set design; the sub itself is dark, and neo gothic in feel and provide the heritage ship sets of current design all sprang from. So while the story has moments of great humour, and is rated U, the story is darker than many Disney family films.
The visual effects are stunning. A full scale miniature was used; it set the precedent for successive films shot in water, and rightfully won Oscars for their massive achievement. The giant squid attack looks much more realistic than most present day CGI effects, and show the gold standard used in making the FX. They are sufficiently high tech and well executed that they stand up very well today; indeed ,many of the methods employed are still in common use today in modern film making.
Now that you know what to expect from the film on the dvd, let's talk about the dvd itself. The region 2 version is a 1 disc set. It contains the film, which has been lovingly restored. It is 118 minutes long, and has a few special features. They are:
Jules Verne & Walt Disney: 'Explorers of the Imagination'
Monsters of the Deep
The Humbolt Squid: 'A Real Sea Monster'
Tour of the Nautilus
Excellent special features they are, as well. 'Explorers of the Imagination' is an interesting piece about Walt Disney and Jules Verne with famous modern day science fiction writers Samuel R. Delany and Gregory Benford and a few other notables offering their insight on both the original book and the Disney film adaption, discussing the men behind each and their visions. Monsters of the Deep is entertaining, but admittedly fluff. It is a 6 minute clip introducing Kurt Douglas and Peter Lorre in their film roles, and is a showcase for movie clips, storyboards, and a look at the sets. The Humbolt Squid: 'A Real Sea Monster' is a fascinating short feature in which filmmaker Scott Cassell gives us the facts about the actual creature and we get to see live clips of one filmed at the bottom of the ocean. To add to its "niftyness" they made this so it is if we are in a submarine, looking out a porthole at the creature. Tour of the Nautilus is the final special feature on the region 2 1 disc version, and it is splendid. It shows us diagrams of the sets and splices them footage from the film, giving a closer look of the machine that I must say enhances later viewings of the film.
The film is also available on a 2 disc special edition set, for about the same money, as a region 1 import. I have to say this is well worth doing. Not only do you get the digitally remastered film, with Dolby 5:1 audio, but on disc 1 you get an audio commentary with director Richard Fleischer & film historian Rudy Behlmer and the original cartoon film short that accompanied it in cinemas, "Grand Canyonscope". It is the audio commentary that is the best value of the two in enhancing enjoyment of the box set. Director Fleischer's commentary about the film is fascinating, with information on difficulties that occurred filming the epic, and what was occurring at Walt Disney Studios at the time. This is particularly insightful, as apparently Disney staked his entire reputation and most of his assets into making this film. The animated short is amusing on its own, but its only addition to the quality of the set is that it completes the original theatrical presentation of the film. It is a not quite 7 minute short featuring Donald Duck on a trip to the Grand canyon and the trouble he gets into with a park ranger. The film and these two special features complete this version's disc 1 content, with disc 2 containing the bulk of the special features.
Disc 2's features are:
"The Making Of '20,000 Leagues Under The Sea'"
Jules Verne & Walt Disney: Explorers of the Imagination
The Humboldt Squid: A Real Sea Monster
Lost Treasures: The Sunset Squid Sequence
1954 Disney Studio Album
The Musical Legacy of Paul Smith
Touring The Nautilus
Monsters Of The Deep
Biographies: Kirk Douglas, Peter Lorre, James Mason, Paul Lucas, Richard Fleischer
Advertising: Lobby Cards, Posters and Merchandise
Documents: Production Documents & Harper Goff Letter
Screenplay Excerpt: Nemo's Death
Most of these are self explanatory, and I have already told you what some of these are as they are on the Region 1 versions, so i will shorten this review to the exciting parts of these features. The "making of" special feature is by far the best of additional features not found on the Region 2 disc. It is feature length, being over 87 minutes long, giving a very in-depth look of all aspects of how they made the movie. Chock full of interviews, it covers literally everything from details on the script, the actors, the sets, the shoot, and the final release, all presented carefully with relevant archival footage. The other features are interesting, but to be honest, I have only watched the others once. It is nice having them for completeness, however.
So, my verdict is that this is a nice piece of entertainment, suitable for the entire family, and perhaps only a very little dated thanks to it's setting in the past and the extremely high quality of the special effects. If you are a film buff, or interested in cinematography, get the Region 1 version. If you just like to watch your movies, then go ahead and just get the Region 2 version. If you are concerned about whether or not the Region 1 will play in your multiregion player, I should make a note here as well that the Disney films do not seem to be released with the dreaded RCE encoding, so no one should have any issues playing the region 1 version.
It should be 10 thousand leagues under the sea. 10 bottles of cheese on the wall, 10 bottles of cheese, if one of those cheeses had knobbly kneeses, there'd be 9 bottles of chesse on the wall. 9 bottles of cheese on the wall, 9 bottles of cheese, if one of those cheeses had knobbly kneeses, there'd be 8 bottles of chesse on the wall. 8 bottles of cheese on the wall, 8 bottles of cheese, if one of those cheeses had knobbly kneeses, there'd be 7 bottles of chesse on the wall. 7 bottles of cheese on the wall, 7 bottles of cheese, if one of those cheeses had knobbly kneeses, there'd be 6 bottles of chesse on the wall. 6 bottles of cheese on the wall, 6 bottles of cheese, if one of those cheeses had knobbly kneeses, there'd be 5 bottles of chesse on the wall. 5 bottles of cheese on the wall, 5 bottles of cheese, if one of those cheeses had knobbly kneeses, there'd be 4 bottles of chesse on the wall. 4 bottles of cheese on the wall, 4 bottles of cheese, if one of those cheeses had knobbly kneeses, there'd be 3 bottles of chesse on the wall. 3 bottles of cheese on the wall, 3 bottles of cheese, if one of those cheeses had knobbly kneeses, there'd be 2 bottles of chesse on the wall. 2 bottles of cheese on the wall, 2 bottles of cheese, if one of those cheeses had knobbly kneeses, there'd be 1 bottle of chesse on the wall. 1 bottle of cheese on the wall, 1 bottle of cheese, if one of those cheeses had knobbly kneeses, there'd be 0 bottles of chesse on the wall. Appreciated
This is one of the earliest Disney live action movies and in my opinion is one of the best. It was directed by Richard Fleischer, who would later return to the genre with FANTASTIC VOYAGE and SOYLENT GREEN. The storyline follows the adventures of Captain Nemo (played with great panache by the late James Mason) as he uses his submarine to sink warships. The special effects are great and the Nautilus (the submarine itself) is fantastically realised. Kirk Douglas hams it up as the survivor of a shipwreck.
If for no other reason, '20000 Leagues under the sea' will be remembered for its glorious set design. Now immortalised in all of the Disney theme parks, the grand Victorian submarine / sea monster Nautilus with its fierce exterior and plush, OTT interior (complete, of course, with a huge pipe organ) is a classic of film design. As a movie, it's probably beyond criticism, as it has been a firm family favourite for nearly fifty years. The political edges of Jules Verne's novel, which concern colonialism and war, have been smoothed away to leave Captain Nemo (played with habitual elegance by James Mason) as a standard movie madman, with high ideals and a lunatic way of expressing them. Oddly, given his penchant for playing marginal, dangerous roles, Kirk Douglas here gives his broadest, least interesting performance as a suffocatingly jolly sailor, very much a Disney hero belonging to a cartoon. Peter Lorre, as Douglas' comic foil, is much better value. Despite its age, the action still works well, as directed by Richard Fleischer, a man whose career has swung from film noir, through true crime to 'Conan the Destroyer'. The well-known battle with the giant squid is particularly effective, even in these days of CGI and 'The Matrix', and though profoundly reassuring, it has a sense of fun which is mightily infectious.
Disney's "horror" set in 1868 has James Mason, as Captain Nemo, terrorising the western seaboard of the US with his Nautilus submarine which, naturally, the men of the time think is a sea monster as submarines hadn't been invented yet. The reason Nemo is scaring ships back to port is to end sea warfare (oh, of course!). The team sent to investigate the "phenomenon" is captured by Nemo and introduced to his world. In the course of the action, they dive to the eponymous 20,000 leagues under the sea where they encounter, as all good schoolboys know, the giant squid that Kirk Douglas has to battle - a heroic fight of flying rubber and dimples. When it first came out and was shown on the big screen, I'm sure it was more thrilling, but Sunday afternoons on a small telly in your lounge tends to remove a lot of the mystique. I'd do something else.
The swashbuckler genre bumped into science fiction in 1954 for one of Hollywood's great entertainments. The Jules Verne story of adventure under the sea was Walt Disney's magnificent debut into live-action films. A professor (Paul Lukas) seeks the truth about a legendary sea monster in the years just after the Civil War. When his ship is sunk, he, his aide (Peter Lorre), and a harpoon master (Kirk Douglas) survive to discover that the monster is actually a metal submarine run by Captain Nemo (James Mason). Along with the rollicking adventure, it's fun to see the future technology that Verne dreamed up in his novel, including diving equipment and sea farming. The film's physical prowess is anchored by the Nautilus, an impressive full-scale gothic submarine complete with red carpet and pipe organ. In the era of big sets, 20,000 Leagues set a precedent for films shot on the water and deservedly won Oscars for art direction and special effects. Lost in the inventiveness of the film and great set pieces including a giant squid attack are two great performances. Mason is the perfect Nemo, taut and private, clothed in dark fabric that counters the Technicolor dreamboat that is the beaming red-and-white-stripe-shirted Kirk Douglas as the heroic Ned Land. The film works as peerless family adventure nearly half a century later. --Doug Thomas