20,000 Leagues Under the Sea

I rediscovered my childhood love for Disney’s 20,000 Leagues Under The Sea over the past few evenings, having found a copy of the two-disc special edition at the local video store, hidden away in the kid’s movie section. I loved all the extras with the movie - the Making Of doco narrated by John Rhys-Davies, all the period-piece Disney-made bits from the '50’s, the meet-the-geeks peice featuring the brothers who’ve made it their life to collect every bit of memorabilia that still exists. I had no idea it had been so ground-breaking in so many areas, like using fiberglass sets and only being the second movie shot in Cinemascope.

The movie itself has so much right about it side-by-side with so much wrong. James Mason as the perfect Captain Nemo paired up with a fer-cryin-out-loud seal. Stunning miniature work in one scene followed by Kirk Douglas singing in the next. And of course, the star of the show, the Nautilus. Harper Goff’s ultimate steampunk machine. We just kept stopping the DVD to geek out over the interior shots. I can’t possibly detatch my feelings for this movie now from those of my 11-year-old self who saw it at a matinee back in the days when screens were biiig. James Mason’s Nemo had a tremendous effect on my just-approaching-puberty hormones, leaving me with a deep and abiding lust for brooding, tormented geniuses with beards.

I’m aware that there have been a couple of sad, sorry attempts to remake 20,000 LUtS, but the only way it could be done is if Disney got on board and let, say, the writing/directing/production team behind Pirates of the Caribbean have Harper Goff’s perfect Nautilus and have them throw everything else away and start fresh, maybe casting Ciaran Hinds as Nemo, Paul Giamatti as Arronax, and Brendan Fraser as Ned Land (shirtless, as often as possible.).

20,000 leagues? I didn’t know the ocean was that deep. That’s, like, 6 miles or something.

I saw an episode of Antiques Roadshow where a guy had the original two-foot model of the Nautilus. He was holding it in his hands like a medium-sized dog. The guy who brought it in got it from his uncle who worked on the movie F/X IIRC.

It was pretty cool to see - he’d kept it in great shape.

I agree with nearly everything that Mrs. Cake has said, though speaking as a brooding, tormented genius with a beard I suppose that would be expected. I admit I have no particular preference for a shirtless Mr. Fraser over a fully-dressed one, though I can think of no-one more suited to the part. I’m sure Mr. Giamatti would bring more life and depth to the part of Arronax than that displayed by Mr. Lukas.

Now who do we get for Conseil? And how do we raise the money?

A common misunderstanding of the title. 20,000 leagues is 60,000 miles. The title refers to a journey under the ocean of 20,000 leagues, not the ocean’s depth. (The circumference of the earth at the equator is 24,901.55 miles.)

I admit I’m stuck for a Conseil. Much as I usually adore Peter Lorre, he isn’t who I’d cast in the part. As for money, let the mouse pony up. It’s not like they’d have to mortgage Disneyland this time.

BTW, love the name, Hentzau. Brooding, bearded, tormented genius, eh? How are you with sabres and staircases?

Either Mr. Ekers was confusing leagues with fathoms, or you’ve been whooshed.

There was a “Saturday Night Live” sketch a few years ago, with host Kelsey Grammer playing Captain Nemo, and having to explain that same point over and over to everybody else in the sketch. “Gee, I can’t believe we’re really 20,000 leagues under the sea! That’s really deep!”

As far as I know, nobody’s ever made a filmed version of the novel that has the Nautilus looking right. It’s supposed to be cigar-shaped, with a rudder and horizontal planes – just like an actual modern submarine. As I recall, Verne had the ship powered by fuel cells, refueled by chemicals filtered out of the seawater, which is pretty clever.

Well, the best wife in the world has just about got me talked into teaching sabre in the spring semester. As for staircases…I’ve got one but it’s not spiral, nor is it made of stone. That will have to wait for the next house. Fortunately I have this great lottery ticket.

In something like seriousness, this could be a great time for the mouse to finance a re-make of the film. They already own the Nautilus design, which I love, as well as all those great props and set pieces. They could get anyone they want (can you imagine any actor turning them down?) and anybody who can make us believe we’re watching two square-riggers fighting in a maelstrom can handle the visual effects for 20,000 Leagues.

I would like to see it treated more darkly than the last, however. Nemo having read his Nietsche (though I haven’t checked the dates to see if he could have). You know - “the abyss gazes into you” sort of thing. Handled right, the abyss could become a character in the film, the same way the ring became a character in LOTR.

I’ve got the perfect cast:

Ned Land: Andy Dick
Nemo: Dane Cook
Arronax: Adam Sandler
Conseil: Rob Schneider

Plus Jessica Simpson as the holographic Nautilus Computer

I never saw the original 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea. I’ve always been a huge Disney fan and somehow I missed that one. I am thinking that I should go out and rent it. I actually loved the Disney ride when I was younger but I remember that the line was always so long and my parents never wanted to wait. And now the ride isn’t there anymore.

Dear Lord, Morbo, please tell us you’re whooshing us.

Yes, a cool movie for its day, and ripe for a remake. My dream cast:

Ned Land: Brendan Frasier
Nemo: Russell Crowe or George Clooney
Arronax: John Hurt or Ian Holm
Conseil: David Sedaris (I don’t think he’s ever acted, but he’d be perfect in the role)

Hanging in the visitors center for the Navy’s USS Nautilus, now a museum ship moored near Groton, Conn., is a model of the Nautilus from the movie. I seem to remember it was an actual filming model, but it might be a later replica. It’s a few feet long.

I love that movie. Our babysitter took us to see it at the Drive-In one summer, and it was awesome! I still have the companion “Big Golden Book”, with it’s wonderful illustrations, from 1963.

One of the crushing disappointments of my youth was discovering that the subs didn’t dive, only the passenger area was underwater. And the giant squid was a fake.
I have never trusted anyone since that bitter moment.

Rob Schneider played the Peter Lorre role.

The first two movies I ever saw in a theater were a matinee double-bill of Mothra and 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, sometime in the early '60s, when I was about 8 or 9. They both pretty much blew my mind to smithereens, and I’ve loved film ever since.

That was in fact the only time I ever watched 2LUtS (oohhh, looks a bit too much like “sluts” doesn’t it?) until earlier this year, on one of the movie channels. The OP called it right. There’s so much that’s great, and so much that’s overripe cheese. I loved seeing it again anyway.

Haha, it was sad that it didn’t actually dive! I completely agree. However, I rarely got to ride it and I’m still a bit bitter about that!

Transcript here.

The movie sets and props were turned into a walk-through exhibit at Disneyland from 1955 to 1966.

The IMDb tells us:

Let me give a nod to the ABC-produced version with Michael Caine as Nemo. I truly enjoyed that. It is on DVD but for about $20 when I saw it in the store & was short on cash at the time. Alas, I got the NBC Ben Cross version for $6 but haven’t had the nerve to watch that yet.

There’s a silent version of 20,000 Leagues that’s worth watching. They do a good job of portraying the Nautilus (as described by Verne), and it’s the only version that depicts Nemo as Indian (something that wouldn’t happen on film again until The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen). The film also manages – amazingly – to tell the story of The Mysterious Island. The underwater scenes were ahead of their time, and shot in the same place Disney used some 30 years later.

If you can, get hold of a copy of The Annotated 20,000 Leagues with notes by Walter James Miller, or else get his own translation of it. Worth the effort.