20,000 Leagues Under the Sea (10/25/12) – Nostalgiathon

20,000 Leagues Under the Sea

Nostalgiathon 2012 badge

Movie Two Hundred Forty

A sailor, a professor, and his assistant climb aboard the Nautilus for adventure as they travel 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea.

A mysterious sea monster is attacking ships in the Pacific Ocean and is halting sea trade. Professor Pierre Arronax (Paul Lukas) and his assistant, Conseil (Peter Lorre) are commissioned by the U.S. government to travel and look for evidence of the monster. After having no luck on the sea, the ship is attacked by the monster and the professor and Conseil are thrown overboard along with cocky crewmember Ned Land (Kirk Douglas). After being adrift in the ocean, the men arrive upon a strange metal submersible and realizing that it is the monster they have been looking for climb aboard looking for answers. They look outside a large porthole window and see the crew of the vessel diving in large suits. The crew comes back aboard the Nautilus and their captain, Nemo (James Mason), takes the three men as captives. As Nemo reveals his intentions, the crew of the Nautilus travel the treacherous seas as Ned plots his escape.

Since this is the kickoff for Nostalgiathon, I will start by explaining why 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea is my perfect choice. As a kid, 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea was one of my favorite movies but also the movie I found the most terrifying thing ever. The giant squid that attacks the Nautilus near the end of the film made young Andy have nightmares for weeks and still effects me today. Also, the Shedd Aquarium here in Chicago had a lifesize model of a giant squid on the ceiling in one of their exhibits that would make me cry every time we went there. But even though I was terrified, I was also incredibly intrigued by the creature.

To young me, 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea WAS the giant squid attacking; the rest of the movie was filler for that scene. As an adult, the rest of the film is actually incredibly smart and mature considering this is a Disney film. Ned Land acts as most the film’s comic relief since he sings songs and acts crazy, and there is also a seal that seems tossed onscreen to appease kids, but the actual plot and Nemo’s motivations are quite adult. Even though I had watched this film many times as a kid, other than a few spotty things here and there, the only thing that was still burned in my brain was the giant squid attack and I’ll be honest…I still got chills from that scene as a 30 year old. Though no nightmares this time around, I’ve matured!

As mentioned, 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea is a Disney film, the first sci-fi film from the studio. When Jules Verne wrote 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, submarines did not exist, which blows my mind. This was science fiction that turned non-fiction. The style of the film is also largely credited with popularity for the steampunk movement since the design of Nautilus is incredibly unique, even today.

As a kid, Kirk Douglas’ over the top sailor, Ned Land, always made me chuckle and he was the only character I really remember anything about. Now, Mason’s and Lorre’s performances stick out just as much, though they are a little more subtle. Mason as Nemo has such a dark hidden rage and Lorre is just a loveable assistant but gives a great performance.

Since I was lucky enough to see 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea on the big screen this time, the giant squid was still huge and scary and amazing. It is still the highlight of the film for me, but now I am able to fully understand what is happening in the film. I think it has aged quite well both as a film and as a piece of nostalgia

I give it 4 (what else?) giant squid attacks out of 5.


Rotten Tomatoes


32 responses to “20,000 Leagues Under the Sea (10/25/12) – Nostalgiathon

  1. Pingback: Nostalgiathon Blogathon – Introduction | Andy Watches Movies

  2. Funnily enough, I was planning to finally do a post today about some of the films that shaped my childhood. I think that your ‘Nost…’ project is fab. Can’t wait to see what you share with us! Great to see your write up about this, I know you were looking forward to it. 🙂 This really reminds me of childhood too. Actually it made me want to make up cool stories and draw characters that lived under the sea. 🙂

  3. Great movie! Although oddly enough the only thing I remember is Kirk Douglas’s rage at “Uncle Walt” filming his kids riding Walt’s private train and showing it on the Wonderful World of Disney. Douglas wanted to sue, but his agent advised against it saying that it would be like suing God or his equivalent. I do remember seeing the movie, but on telly. I missed the re-release. Great post.

  4. Nice work, Andy. It was a big fave of mine too as a kid. Just quietly though (and I hate to be a pain in the ass), but I’m pretty sure it was Jules Verne who wrote the original novel? Not that it really matters. I know it’s only nitpicking. 🙂

  5. Pingback: Nostalgiathon – Update 1 | Andy Watches Movies

  6. I love this movie. I feel like it honestly changed my life when I was younger. And I remember going on the Disney ride too, that was a blast! GIANT SQUIDS! It taught me about those among other things…that submarine is BAD ASS! One day….I hope to have my own someday with Captain Nemo’s sickening view out onto the ocean…imagine….http://www.thefilmyap.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/06/20000-Leagues-Under-the-Sea-inside.jpg

    Thanks for bringing back the memories!

  7. Pingback: My October Movies Round-Up | Andy Watches Movies

  8. Pingback: Nostalgiathon 2012: The Goonies edition! « rogue the girl

  9. What a great idea for a blogathon!
    The squid sticks out in my mind, as well as Nemo’s organ and his turtleneck. He seemed so bundled up and tense.

    I’m glad the blogathon is open-ended; when I have some time I’ll contribute. The Great Katharine Hepburn referred me to you, by the way.

    • Haha his turtleneck and beard (maybe the combo of the two) always sticks in my mind too.

      I hope you find a way to contribute, the more the merrier! Thanks for letting me know about the referral, too!

  10. Pingback: Nostalgiathon – Update 2 | Andy Watches Movies

  11. Pingback: Nostalgiathon 2012: Real Genius edition! « rogue the girl

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