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20,000 Leagues Under the Sea

   

20,000 Leagues Under the Sea (1954), starring James Mason, Kirk Douglas, Peter Lorre, Paul Lukas

The classic Walt Disney adaptation of Jules Verne’s 20,00 Leagues under the Sea, starring James Mason, Kirk Douglas, Peter Lorre, Paul Lukas

Walt Disney’s 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea is an absolute classic. First, it stays (mostly) faithful to the original Jules Verne story. One notable change is the physical look of the submarine, the Nautilus. Here, it’s absolutely beautiful, and iconic. Then it also needs to be said that the characters are believable, and the acting is top-notch. I recommend it unreservedly.

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Product Description

For the first time ever, you can enjoy this timeless classic in a Special Edition DVD. Fully restored to look and sound as it was originally intended, it also includes hours of exclusive bonus materials your family will enjoy again and again. Climb aboard the Nautilus…and into a strange undersea world of spellbinding adventure! Kirk Douglas, Paul Lukas, and Peter Lorre star as shipwrecked survivors taken captive by the mysterious Captain Nemo, brilliantly portrayed by James Mason. Wavering between genius and madness, Nemo has launched a deadly crusade across the seven seas. But can the captive crew expose his evil plan before he destroys the world?

Featuring Norman Gimbel and Al Hoffman’s memorable song “A Whale of a Tale,” Disney’s Academy Award(R)-winning (Special Effects and Color Art Direction, 1954) adaptation of Jules Verne’s gripping tale makes 20,000 LEAGUES UNDER THE SEA a truly mesmerizing masterpiece!|The submarine the Nautilus was built to scale: 200 feet long and shaped as Verne had described it — a monster with headlights as eyes.|Based on the classic Jules Verne novel, this was the first Disney feature filmed in CinemaScope.|The Disney special effects department built the giant squid out of rubber, steel spring, flexible tubing, glass cloth, Lucite, and plastic. When finished, the monster had tentacles that were 40 feet long and two feelers that measured 50 feet long.

It took a crew of 28 to operate the beast’s intricate remote controls.|The first time the battle with the giant squid was staged, the monster got waterlogged and sank. Real creatures weren’t much more cooperative. When the filmmakers couldn’t get real fish to swim by the cameras, the studio substituted animated fish instead.|Shooting locations for the film included various locales in the Bahamas and Jamaica, as well as the Disney backlot.

Additional Features

Besides making a lavish, state-of-the-art live action film in the early 1950s, Walt Disney was perceptive enough to chronicle his film with a great deal of care and clarity. The new 90-minute documentary is stuffed with vintage behind-the-scenes color footage. As director Richard Fleisher, Kurt Douglas, and a bevy of technicians reminisce about their adventures on set, there is often footage chronicling the exact moment.

This DVD edition is one of the most complete packages of a classic movie to date. Interesting tidbits include an audio re-recording Peter Lorre’s dialogue, unused animation (for undersea scenes), gobs of photos, and vintage marketing films. A short segment about the Nautilus ingeniously combines computer animation with movie sequences, production photos, and blueprints for a tour of the sub. The jewel, though, is the original squid attack that was reshot because it looked so fake. Even on the new commentary track (enjoyable, but low-key), Fleischer thinks–and hopes–the footage is lost, yet seeing the sequence illustrates how the movie was almost sunk by a less-than-breathtaking final act. –Doug Thomas

Cast of characters

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