20,000 Leagues Under The Sea (1954)


Bil’s rating (out of 5):  BBBB

USA, 1954.  Walt Disney Productions.  Screenplay by , based on the novel by .  Cinematography by .  Produced by .  Music by .  Production Design by .  Costume Design by .  Film Editing by .  

It’s a whale of a tale as Jules Verne’s exciting adventure story is adapted to the big screen with rich, enjoyable results. Sailor Kirk Douglas and scientists Paul Lukas and  are nearly drowned after their boat is destroyed by the legendary sea monster that has been the talk of the new world. Adrift in the ocean, the three are rescued when they happen upon a (then unheard-of) underwater sailing vessel that turns out to be the secret behind the monster myth: a mad sailor (James Mason) is getting revenge upon humanity for his life’s sorrows by traveling the ocean floor and making life difficult for anyone on the sea.

The adventures that this unhappy crew embark upon make for a thrilling ride that has aged extremely well–even the visual effects still look terrific (except perhaps the attack of the giant squid sequence, which while still thrilling does look a bit creaky, technically). The wondrous set design and beautiful underwater photography make it shine like a blue diamond, and the performances are very energetic. It’s a treat that will frighten the children and possible scare the adults who were terrified of it as kids themselves.

Academy Awards:  Best Special Effects; Best Art Direction-Colour
Nomination: Best Film Editing

Berlin Film Festival: In Competition


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