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The Mysterious Island (1929)

On a volcanic island near the kingdom of Hetvia rules Count Dakkar, a benevolent leader and scientist who has eliminated class distinction among the island's inhabitants. Dakkar, his ... See full summary »

Directors:

Lucien Hubbard, Benjamin Christensen (uncredited) | 1 more credit »

Writers:

Jules Verne (from the book by), Lucien Hubbard (screen play)
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Cast

Complete credited cast:
Lionel Barrymore ... Count Andre Dakkar
Jacqueline Gadsdon ... Countess Sonia Dakkar (as Jane Daly)
Lloyd Hughes ... Nikolai Roget
Montagu Love ... Baron Falon
Harry Gribbon ... Mikhail
Snitz Edwards ... Anton
Gibson Gowland ... Dmitry
Dolores Brinkman Dolores Brinkman ... Teresa
Karl Dane ... Crewman (scenes deleted)
Edit

Storyline

On a volcanic island near the kingdom of Hetvia rules Count Dakkar, a benevolent leader and scientist who has eliminated class distinction among the island's inhabitants. Dakkar, his daughter Sonia and her fiance, engineer Nicolai Roget have designed a submarine which Roget pilots on its initial voyage just before the island is overrun by Baron Falon, despotic ruler of Hetvia. Falon sets out after Roget in a second submarine and the two craft, diving to the ocean's floor, discover a strange land populated by dragons, giant squid and an eerie undiscovered humanoid race. Written by Doug Sederberg <vornoff@sonic.net>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

The Most Daring Departure From Film Convention Yet to Reach the Screen (Print Ad-The Sunday Call,((Newark, NJ)) 8 September 1929) See more »


Certificate:

Passed | See all certifications »
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

5 October 1929 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

La isla misteriosa See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$1,130,000 (estimated)

Gross USA:

$55,000
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

| (Turner library print)

Sound Mix:

Mono (Western Electric System) (musical score and sound effects) (talking sequences)| Silent (original version)

Color:

Color (2-color Technicolor)

Aspect Ratio:

1.20 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Although the entire film has always been available in black and white prints, film historians long believed that no complete color print of the film had survived - until 2013 when experts from the George Eastman House in the US discovered that such a print had been preserved in the Czech National Archive. Until this discovery, it was thought that the only surviving Technicolor fragment of the film was a ten-minute reel reposing in the UCLA Film and Television Archive. See more »

Goofs

The initial views of the ship's nose during construction shows a blunt rounded appearance as with modern submarines, but the animation views of the ship underway show an almost cartoon-like shape with a swordfish-like pointy nose. See more »

Quotes

Count Andre Dakkar: Who am I? I'm a scientist - who asks nothing, but to be left alone. Here on my island we don't think of kings or rank or power. Here the humblest workman in my shops, the peasant who tills my field, is my equal. We work with but one end: to study, to learn, to be free! To seek happiness, each in his own way.
See more »

Alternate Versions

Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer also released this as a totally silent movie. See more »

Connections

Version of Tainstvennyy ostrov (1941) See more »

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User Reviews

 
Birth of the Hollywood "Jules Verne" Genre
5 February 2005 | by wonderbossSee all my reviews

This spectacular but ill-fated film was MGMs entry into the SF/Fantasy mini-boom of the 1920s. Attempting to cash in on the success of blockbusters such as The Lost World (1925) and The Thief of Bagdad (1924) Louis B. Mayer ordered a script fashioned which would be an amalgam of several Verne novels, with plot elements borrowed from 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, Master of the World, Michael Strogoff, along with the title book itself. As if to signal their hopes for the film to the world, the producers hired Lloyd Hughes, bright-eyed leading man from The Lost World, to play their hero and also retained the services of cameraman J. Ernest Williamson, who had photographed the groundbreaking underwater scenes featured in the 1916 version of 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea. The production was an exceptionally troubled one. The Mysterious Island was three years in the making, delayed and delayed, once by a hurricane that completely destroyed Williamson's underwater film laboratory. The decision to make the film in Technicolor (the original two-strip process introduced earlier in 1926 with Fairbanks's Black Pirate) was impeding progress as well. Then, just as the silent version of the film was approaching completion, the Talkie revolution swept the industry. This sent the filmmakers back to the drawing board yet again, where they reconceived the movie as a predominantly silent picture with several lengthy sound sequences. This decision not only necessitated a great deal of re-shooting, but also the replacement of Warner Oland (originally cast as the heavy of the piece, Baron Falon) with character actor Montagu Love. By the time The Mysterious Island was ready to show publicly it had cost the studio over 4 million dollars, an astronomical sum by the standards of the day. It was far and away MGMs most expensive project to date;and the future of science fiction in film was riding on its success. Those who did see The Mysterious Island during its original release certainly got an eyeful. Reclusive Count Dakkar (Captain Nemo's real name, by the way, as revealed by Verne in the 20,000 Leagues sequel) uses a spectacular volcanic island near the Baltic kingdom of Hetvia as home base for his scientific experiments. There he constructs two futuristic submarines with which he intends to investigate his theory of a mysterious race of half-human fish men living at the bottom of the sea. Just as the first of these submarines sets out on its sea-trials, however, Dakkar's old friend Falon betrays him, overruns his island with soldiers, and takes the Count and his sister Sonia hostage. Using them as bait, Falon lures the first submarine, captained by Dakkar's chief engineer Nicolai Roget, back into port and sinks it with cannonballs. As it descends uncontrollably into the depths, the triumphant Falon boards the second boat, which will now become an undreamed-of weapon of destruction in his ruthless and ambitious hands. The Baron hasn't reckoned on the determination of Sonia, however, who is willing to sink the second sub as well, with herself and Falon on board, rather than see her brother's work used for world domination. As Submarine #2 follows the other into the hopeless abyssal depths, The Mysterious Island begins to unleash its impressive array of special effects. Though undoubtedly crude by today's standards, these effects (similar to those seen in Thief of Bagdad) are nonetheless wonderfully imaginative, having something of the appeal of an elaborate puppet show. And the rigid diving suits the aquanauts use during the finale are worthy of mention also; somehow fanciful and yet believable at the same time, they're still impressive today. I think the drama in The Mysterious Island works well, too. Lionel Barrymore's transformation from idealistic, would-be benefactor of humanity into embittered vigilante is quite effective, and the torture scene that brings about this transformation is wrenching. Much has been made of the film's lack of fidelity to the original book;too much, in fact. What the filmmakers seem to have envisioned was an epitome of Verne, an attempt to capture the essence of the Vernian world rather than a literal adaptation of any one book. This being the case, I think it's interesting just how many of the author's themes did make it into The Mysterious Island. In fact, if you stopped the film just before the end it would work as an interesting prequel to Disney's 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea. The traumatic events that ignited Captain Nemo's anti-war crusade, merely alluded to in the Disney version, are vividly depicted here. At any rate, The Mysterious Island was, as you may have guessed by now, an abject failure at the box-office. For reasons that aren't quite clear, audiences of 1929 stayed away in droves and the film recouped less than ten per cent of its negative cost. The impact of this calamity, both on MGM and on the rest of Hollywood, would be difficult to overstate. The Mysterious Island disaster not only frightened producers away from Jules Verne, it cast a stink of failure over the entire concept of science-fiction cinema, a stink that clung to it for nearly 25 years. On the rare occasions when a sci-fi theme or concept did make it to the screen during the Thirties or Forties it was as part of a horror movie or in a cheap serial made for children. The Mysterious Island, in other words, managed to nip the whole burgeoning genre in the bud. The film itself was forgotten by MGM and nearly lost, perhaps on purpose. Even today, it can only be seen in black and white; no Technicolor print is known to exist.


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