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20,000 Leagues Under the Sea (1907)

20000 lieues sous les mers (original title)
| Short, Adventure, Fantasy
Undersea adventures in a submarine by a dreaming fisherman who encounters mystical underwater creatures at odds with him. A parody on Jules Verne's novel.

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Undersea adventures in a submarine by a dreaming fisherman who encounters mystical underwater creatures at odds with him. A parody on Jules Verne's novel.

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Version of 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea (1973) See more »

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A misleading French title...
20 September 2011 | by See all my reviews

Oddly, the English title for this is "Under the Seas"--even though the French title is translated as "20,000 Leagues Under the Sea" ("Deux Cent Milles Sous les Mers"). However, when you see the film, you see that it really has nothing to do with the Verne novel--and the English title was more appropriate and less misleading.

When the film begins, it's obvious that this one is in among the worst condition of any of the films from this Georges Méliès DVD collection. It's very fuzzy and bleached out--and it's a real shame. As the rest of the films looked like they'd been restored, perhaps this one was beyond their ability to repair.

Like some of the shorts on the "Georges Méliès Encore" DVD, this one has optional narration in order to explain what is occurring. While normally I don't recommend it, in this case it's worth using (at least in the beginning). A man enters a sub and the submarine slowly descends as the crowd watches. Then, you see what is supposed to be an underwater scene. It's done using stop-motion, real fish and painted images. It must have been pretty cool back in 1907--but it looks pretty dated today. Then, things get weird. Starfish turn into dancing girls--yes, dancing girls! Sadly, the ship scares them off! But, at least the guy in the boat gets to see some mermaids--and leaves the boat (and seems to be breathing just fine!). Then, he wanders about the set--acting as if he's seeing a magical underwater garden. A bit later, he's attacked by octopi--who also turn into women. How can all this be?! Not a bad film by 1907's standards, but the underwater scenes when seen today are amazingly cheesy and a bit quaint. Worth seeing, but not exactly among Georges Méliès best.


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