20,000 Leagues Under the Sea (1954 film)
|20,000 Leagues Under the Sea|
Original theatrical poster
|Directed by||Richard Fleischer|
|Produced by||Walt Disney (uncredited)|
|Screenplay by||Earl Felton|
|Story by||Jules Verne (novel)|
|Music by||Paul Smith|
|Editing by||Elmo Williams|
|Studio||Walt Disney Productions|
|Distributed by||Buena Vista Distribution|
|Running time||127 minutes|
20,000 Leagues Under the Sea is a 1954 adventure film starring Kirk Douglas as Ned Land, James Mason as Captain Nemo, Paul Lukas as Professor Pierre Aronnax, and Peter Lorre as Conseil. It was the first science fiction film produced by Walt Disney Productions, as well as the only science fiction film produced by Walt Disney himself. It was also the first feature length Disney film to be distributed by Buena Vista Distribution. The film has become the best-known adaptation of the book of the same name by Jules Verne, and cited as an early example of the genre now called steampunk. This film is also Disney's fifth live-action film overall.
In the year 1868, rumors of a sea monster attacking ships in the Pacific Ocean have created apprehension and fear among sailors, disrupting shipping lanes. The United States government invites Professor Pierre M. Aronnax and his assistant, Conseil, onto an expedition to prove or disprove the monster's existence. One of their fellow crew is the cocky master harpooneer Ned Land.
After months of searching, the "monster" is spotted. Though the ship fires at it with cannons, the monster rams the ship. Ned and Aronnax are thrown overboard, and Conseil goes in after Aronnax. The warship, burning and helpless, drifts silently and no one on board answers when the overboard passengers cry for help. The three drift in the ocean, eventually finding a strange-looking metal vessel, and realize the "monster" is a man-made "submerging boat" that appears deserted. Inside, Aronnax finds a viewing window and sees an underwater funeral.
The submarine crew returns to their ship, capturing the castaways. The captain introduces himself as Nemo, master of the Nautilus. He returns Ned and Conseil to the deck, while offering Aronnax, whom he recognizes for his work and research, the chance to stay. When Nemo determines that Aronnax would die with his companions, he allows Ned and Conseil to board the submarine.
Nemo takes Aronnax to the penal colony island of Rura Penthe. Nemo reveals he was once a prisoner there, as were many of his crew. The prisoners are loading a munitions ship. The Nautilus rams the ship, destroying its cargo and killing the crew. An anguished Nemo tells Arronax that his actions have saved thousands from death in war; he also discloses that this "hated nation" tortured his wife and son to death while attempting to force him to reveal the secrets of his work. Ned discovers the coordinates of Nemo's secret island base, Vulcania, and releases messages in bottles, hoping somebody will find them and free him from captivity.
Off the coast of New Guinea, the Nautilus becomes stranded on a reef. Ned is surprised when Nemo allows him to go ashore with Conseil, ostensibly to collect specimens. Ned goes off alone to explore avenues of escape. While kneeling at a pool to drink he sees a number of human skulls on stakes. Realizing his danger, Ned runs for his life and rejoins Conseil as they are chased back to the Nautilus by cannibals. Despite remaining aground, Nemo is unconcerned and the cannibals are repelled from the ship by electrical charges circulated on its hull. Nemo is furious with Ned for not following his orders, and confines him to the submarine's brig.
A warship approaches, firing upon the submarine. It descends into the depths, where it attracts the attentions of a giant squid. The electric charge fails to repel the monster, so Nemo and his men surface to dislodge the beast. Nemo is caught in one of the squid's tentacles. Ned, having escaped from captivity during the struggle, jumps to Nemo's rescue, saving his captor's life. As a result, Nemo has a change of heart; he claims now to want to make peace with the outer world.
As the Nautilus nears Vulcania, Nemo finds the island surrounded by warships whose marines are converging on his hideout. As Nemo goes ashore, Ned attempts to identify himself as the author of the bottled messages. Aronnax realizes this and becomes furious, recognizing that Nemo will destroy all evidence of his discoveries. Nemo plants a bomb in his hideout, but is mortally wounded from a slug to the back while returning to the Nautilus. After haphazardly navigating the submarine away from Vulcania, Nemo announces he will be "taking the Nautilus down for the last time". Nemo's crew declare they will accompany their captain in death.
Aronnax, Conseil, and Ned are confined to their cabins. The Nautilus's crew also retreat to their cabins at Nemo's instructions. Ned breaks loose and manages to surface the Nautilus, hitting a reef in the process and causing the ship to begin flooding. Nemo staggers to a viewing window and watches his beloved ocean as he dies.
Aronnax tries to retrieve his journal, which contains an account of the voyage, but the urgency of their escape obliges Ned to knock him unconscious and carry him out. The companions witness Vulcania destroyed in an explosion. As the Nautilus disappears beneath the waves, Nemo's last words to Aronnax echo: "There is hope for the future. And when the world is ready for a new and better life, all this will someday come to pass, in God's good time."
- Kirk Douglas as Ned Land
- James Mason as Captain Nemo
- Paul Lukas as Professor Pierre Aronnax
- Peter Lorre as Conseil
- Robert J. Wilke as Nautilus's First Mate
- Ted de Corsia as Captain Farragut
- Carleton Young as John Howard
- J. M. Kerrigan as Billy
- Percy Helton as Coach driver
- Ted Cooper as Abraham Lincoln's First Mate
- Fred Graham as Casey
20,000 Leagues Under the Sea was filmed at various locations in Bahamas and Jamaica, with the cave scenes filmed beneath what is now the Xtabi Resort on the cliffs of Negril. Filming began in spring of 1954. Some of the location filming sequences were so complex that they required a technical crew of over 400 people. The film presented many other challenges as well. The famous giant squid attack sequence had to be entirely re-shot as it was originally filmed as taking place at dusk and in a calm sea. It was filmed again, this time taking place at night and during a huge gale, both to increase the drama and to better hide the cables and other mechanical workings of the animatronic squid. Cost overruns during production made the film very expensive for a Disney production, although by no means as expensive as other recent releases: Joan of Arc (1948) had cost $4.6 million; Quo Vadis (1951) had an estimated budget of $7.6 million.
20,000 Leagues Under the Sea received positive reviews from critics, and was the second highest grossing film of the year (behind White Christmas), earning $8 million in rentals in North America and has become a notable classic film of the Disney corporation. Audiences fondly remember it primarily for its giant-squid battle sequence as well as the Nautilus itself and James Mason's portrayal of Nemo. The film currently holds an 89% approval rating at the review aggregation website Rotten Tomatoes, with the consensus being: "One of Disney's finest live-action adventures, 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea brings Jules Verne's classic sci-fi tale to vivid life, and features an awesome giant squid."
The film was also highly praised for the performances of the leading actors. This was the first time that major international stars such as Kirk Douglas, James Mason, and Peter Lorre had appeared in a Disney film, although Robert Newton, a well-known actor in British films, had played Long John Silver in Disney's Treasure Island (1950), and Richard Todd, another well-known star of British films, had appeared in a Disney Technicolor live-action version of The Story of Robin Hood and His Merrie Men (1952). Mason especially was singled out for his performance of Captain Nemo. Many people who had first seen him on-screen in the film identify him most strongly with this role.
Upon the film's original release, New York Times film critic Bosley Crowther gave the film a generally positive review by stating that, "As fabulous and fantastic as anything he has ever done in cartoons is Walt Disney's "live action" movie made from Jules Verne's '20,000 Leagues Under the Sea.' Turned out in CinemaScope and color, it is as broad, fictitiously, as it is long (128 minutes), and should prove a sensation—at least with the kids." In his controversial 1967 biography The Disney Version, the usually prickly critic Richard Schickel, stated that James Mason was "superbly cast as the mad inventor Captain Nemo".
Modern-day film critic Steve Biodrowski said that the film is "far superior to the majority of genre efforts from the period (or any period, for that matter), with production design and technical effects that have dated hardly at all." Biodrowski also added that the film "may occasionally succumb to some of the problems inherent in the source material (the episodic nature does slow the pace), but the strengths far outweigh the weaknesses, making this one of the greatest science-fiction films ever made."
Disneyland used the original sets as a walk-through attraction from 1955 to 1966. Walt Disney World Resort's Magic Kingdom also had a dark ride named 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea: Submarine Voyage from 1971 to 1994 which consisted of a submarine ride, complete with the giant squid attack. For this ride, voice artist Peter Renaday stood in for James Mason in the role of Captain Nemo. In 1994, a walkthrough attraction at Disneyland Paris, named Les Mystères du Nautilus, opened, and a dark ride at Tokyo DisneySea was created in 2001.
Awards and nominations 
- Academy Awards (1954)
- Won: Best Art Direction – Color (John Meehan, Emile Kuri)
- Won: Best Special Effects (John Hench, Joshua Meador)
- Nominated: Best Film Editing (Elmo Williams)
The film's primary art designer, Harper Goff, who designed the Nautilus, was not a member of the Art Directors Union in 1954 and therefore, under a bylaw within the Academy of Motion Pictures, he was unable to receive his Academy Award for Art Direction.
Record albums 
Rather than an authentic soundtrack recording of the film's score or dialogue, two vinyl studio cast record albums were released to coincide with the film's first two releases. Both albums contained condensed and heavily altered versions of the film's script without the usage of any of the film's cast for character voices. In addition, both albums were narrated by Ned Land as opposed to Aronnax, who narrated the film and the original novel. Neither album mentioned Nemo as actually being "cracked" (i.e. insane), as the film does, and considerably sanitized the character by omitting any mention of him killing anyone and even having him sing sea chanties with his crew. The albums also had Nemo surviving at the end and releasing Ned, Arronax, and Conseil out of gratitude for their saving his life. In this version, Ned, Aronnax and Consel were not shipwrecked because the Nautilus rammed the ship they were on, but because a hurricane came up.
The first album was issued in 1954 in conjunction with the film's original release, and starred William Redfield as the voice of Ned. This album, a book-and-record set, was issued as part of RCA Victor's Little Nipper series on two 45-RPM records. The second album, released by Disneyland Records in 1963 in conjunction with the film's first re-release, was issued on one 33⅓ RPM 12-inch LP with no accompanying booklet and no liner notes – the usual practice with most Disneyland label albums. It contained much more of the film's plot, but with many of the same alterations as the first album, so this recording was technically a remake of the earlier one. The cast for the 1963 album was uncredited. Neither album listed the film's credits or made any mention of the film's cast.
A single for the film's most memorable song "A Whale of a Tale", written by Norman Gimbel and Al Hoffman and sung by Kirk Douglas, was also released in 1954 under the Decca Children's Series label. The song "And the Moon Grew Brighter and Brighter", which Douglas had sung in the movie Man Without a Star (written by Lou Singer and Jimmy Kennedy), was the B-side. Both songs can be found on the 2008 digital release of the film's soundtrack. In the film, Johann Sebastian Bach's Toccata and Fugue in D minor is played by Nemo on the Nautilus's organ, but James Mason's playing is actually dubbed by an anonymous organist.
Official soundtrack 
|20,000 Leagues Under the Sea (Soundtrack)|
|Soundtrack album by Various Artists|
|Released||January 29, 2008|
On January 29, 2008, Walt Disney Records released a 26-track digital album containing the music of Paul Smith's original soundtrack score to 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea plus both sides of the "A Whale of a Tale" single, as well as a digital booklet companion that explores the music of the film. This was the first official release of the film score and was initially available only through the iTunes Store. Intrada released the same soundtrack on CD in 2011.
|1.||"Main Title (Captain Nemo’s Theme)"||Paul Smith||2:26|
|2.||"Street Fight"||Paul Smith||1:04|
|3.||"Aboard the Abraham Lincoln / Hunting the Monster"||Paul Smith||2:28|
|4.||"A Whale of a Tale"||Kirk Douglas||2:09|
|5.||"The Monster Attacks"||Paul Smith||2:21|
|6.||"Deserted Sub / Burial / Captured"||Paul Smith||9:14|
|7.||"Fifty Fathoms / The Island of Crespo"||Paul Smith||8:45|
|8.||"Storm at Sea / Nemo Plays"||Paul Smith||2:25|
|9.||"Strange Man of the Seas"||Paul Smith||4:04|
|10.||"Nemo’s Torment"||Paul Smith||0:59|
|11.||"Justified Hate"||Paul Smith||1:29|
|12.||"Searching Nemo’s Cabin"||Paul Smith||4:02|
|13.||"Ned’s Bottles"||Paul Smith||0:43|
|14.||"Ashore at New Guinea"||Paul Smith||2:54|
|15.||"Native Drums / Back to the Nautilus"||Paul Smith||3:08|
|17.||"The Giant Squid"||Paul Smith||6:53|
|18.||"Ambush at Vulcania"||Paul Smith||4:47|
|19.||"Nemo Wounded"||Paul Smith||2:43|
|20.||"Escape from Vulcania"||Paul Smith||3:41|
|21.||"Finale / Deep Is the Mighty Ocean"||Paul Smith||0:56|
|22.||"A Whale of a Tale (Single)"||Kirk Douglas||2:11|
|23.||"And the Moon Grew Brighter and Brighter (Single B-Side)"||Kirk Douglas||2:35|
|24.||"A Whale of a Tale"||Bill Kanady||2:24|
|25.||"A Whale of a Tale"||The Wellingtons||2:07|
|26.||"A Whale of a Tale (Reprise)"||Kirk Douglas||0:11|
On January 6, 2009, Variety reported that a remake entitled 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea: Captain Nemo was being planned with Joseph McGinty Nichol, a.k.a. "McG", attached to direct. The film serves as an origin story for the central character, Captain Nemo, as he builds his warship, the Nautilus. McG has remarked that it will be "much more in keeping with the spirit of the novel" than Richard Fleischer's film, in which it will reveal "what Aronnax is up to and the becoming of Captain Nemo, and how the man became at war with war itself." It was written by Bill Marsilli, with Justin Marks and Randall Wallace brought in to do rewrites. It was to be produced by Sean Bailey with McG's Wonderland Sound and Vision.
McG once suggested that he wanted Will Smith for the Captain Nemo role, but he has reportedly turned down the part. As a second possible choice, McG had mentioned Sam Worthington, whom he worked with on Terminator Salvation, though they did not ever discuss it seriously. However, the project was later shelved in November 2009 with McG backing out of directing.
The Undersea Legend Continues
In an all-new live-action movie,
Walt Disney Pictures presents
Premiering on Disney Blu-ray Combo Pack and DVD
December 17th, 2013!
See also 
- 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea: Submarine Voyage, an attraction at the Magic Kingdom theme park at Walt Disney World Resort from 1971 through 1994.
- Box Office Information for 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea. The Numbers. Retrieved April 15, 2013
- Film Reference, Walt Disney filmography.
- William Higham. "What The Hell Is Steampunk?". Archived from the original on February 17, 2012. Retrieved February 15, 2012.
- IMDB, Movie location information.
- "In a league of its own". D23 (Disney). The Walt Disney Company. December 3, 2009. Archived from the original on 6 September 2010. Retrieved August 18, 2010.
- SUNSET SQUID FIGHT – 20,000 Leagues – unused monster sequence – YouTube Footage of the original, rejected giant squid attack sequence
- The DVD Journal | Reviews : 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea: Special Edition, 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea: Special Edition DVD
- Young, Mark (writer), Rhys-Davies, John (narrator) (May 20, 2003). The Making of 20000 Leagues Under the Sea (documentary). Buena Vista Home Entertainment. Retrieved August 18, 2010.
- "The Screen in Review; '20,000 Leagues' in 128 Fantastic Minutes". The New York Times (The New York Times Company). December 24, 1954. Retrieved August 16, 2010.[dead link]
- "20,000 Leagues Under the Sea DVD Review". The Hollywood Reporter. May 22, 2003. Archived from the original on April 22, 2009. Retrieved August 16, 2010.
- "All Time Domestic Champs", Variety, 6 January 1960 p 34
- Widescreen Museum – The CinemaScope Wing 3.
- 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, Movie Reviews. Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved July 30, 2010.
- DVD Talk, 20,000 Leagues Under The Sea: Special Edition.
- Eccentric Cinema, 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea overview.
- Hollywood Gothique: Captain Nemo Double Bill
- 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea – The Ride.
- New York Times, Academy Awards.
- TCM, Spotlight – 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea.
- Amazon, Walt Disney's 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea (Little Nipper Story Book Album).
- Rate Your Music – Label: Disneyland Records.[dead link]
- Soundtrack Collector, Soundtrack Details: 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea.
- iTunes Store, 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea (Soundtrack) by Various Artists.
- Intrada, Soundtrack Details: 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea
- Michael Fleming (January 6, 2009). "McG to direct Disney's 'Leagues'". Variety. Retrieved February 13, 2009.
- Christina Radish (August 7, 2009). "Director McG Gives IESB an Update on 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea and Says it's Action Packed!". IESB.com. Archived from the original on August 11, 2009. Retrieved August 9, 2009.
- "Randall Wallace to Rewrite Captain Nemo". Comingsoon.net. July 8, 2009. Retrieved July 8, 2009.
- Marc Graser (February 11, 2009). "Justin Marks rewriting 'Nemo'". Variety. Archived from the original on 16 February 2009. Retrieved February 13, 2009.
- Jim Vejvoda (January 15, 2009). "Finding McG's Nemo". IGN. Retrieved August 9, 2009.
- Clint Morris (August 21, 2009). "Exclusive : Sam downplays Nemo". Moviehole.net. Archived from the original on September 4, 2009. Retrieved August 23, 2009.
- Eric Goldman (August 7, 2009). "McG Talks T5". IGN. Retrieved August 9, 2009.
- MTV Movies Blog, EXCLUSIVE: David Fincher Confirms That Work Continues On 20,000 Leagues Under The Sea.
|Wikiquote has a collection of quotations related to: 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea (1954 film)|
- 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea at the Internet Movie Database
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- 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea on Favorite Story: December 20, 1947