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Captain Nemo has built a fantastic submarine for his mission of revenge. He has traveled over 20,000 leagues in search of Charles Denver - a man who caused the death of Princess Daaker. Seeing what he had done, Denver took the daughter to his yacht and sailed away. He abandoned her and a sailor on a mysterious island and has come back after all these years to see if she is still alive and if the nightmares he has will stop. The daughter has been found by five survivors of a Union Army Balloon that crashed near the island. At sea, Professor Aronnax was aboard the ship 'Abraham Lincoln' when Nemo rammed it and threw the Professor, his daughter and two others into the water. Prisoners at first, they are now treated as guests to view the underwater world and to hunt under the waves. Nemo will also tells them about the Nautilus and the revenge that has driven him for all these years. Written by
Tony Fontana <email@example.com>
The actual undersea footage was shot in the Bahamas due to the unusually clear water. When this film was remade by Walt Disney 38 years later, they came to this same spot for their undersea footage. See more »
In one scene on the island the balloon survivors are at a table and a black servant appears. He never shows up again and is not rescued at the end of the film with the rest of the survivors. See more »
Interesting & Generally Entertaining, Though Lacking Verne's Depth
This early adaptation of "20,000 Leagues Under the Sea" is interesting, and generally entertaining, though it lacks the depth of the original story. Its strengths are the underwater effects, the settings, and the camera work, which at times are remarkable for the era. On the other hand, it makes little attempt to convey the most important themes of Verne's story, settling instead for straightforward adventure and melodrama, which are much easier to film.
One can only guess how exciting it might have been in 1916 to see some of these images and special effects. Only occasionally does it falter a bit and lose the illusion of reality for a short time; otherwise it is quite convincing. Just seeing the underwater photography alone must have been pretty impressive at the time, and they also managed to get some interesting sea creatures on film. The photography itself is pretty good throughout the movie, and some of the props and settings are nicely done.
The story draws rather freely both from "20,000 Leagues ... " and also from another Verne story, "Mysterious Island". It is a mostly entertaining yarn, full of action and with some unexpected developments. But only a small portion of Verne's scientific vision comes across, and none of the depth of the characters and of their interactions has been preserved. Captain Nemo is one of literature's more complex and thought-provoking characters, but here he becomes more of a stock melodrama figure. Professor Arronax and Ned Land are mostly spectators, rather than providing worthy foils for the mad genius Nemo.
It's by no means a bad movie, and if you are a silent film fan and/or are interested in film history, there should be enough here to make it worth watching. But otherwise, the 1950's Disney version does a much better job of filming the profound vision and philosophical conflict found in Verne's original novel.
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