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Kirk Douglas as Ned Land

Canadian master harpoonist

James Mason as Captain Nemo

Captain Nemo, also known as Prince Dakkar, appears in two of Verne's novels, Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea (1870) and The Mysterious Island (1874), and makes a cameo appearance in Verne's play Journey Through the Impossible (1882).

Nemo, one of the most famous antiheroes in fiction, is a mysterious figure. The son of an Indian Raja, he is a scientific genius who roams the depths of the sea in his submarine, the Nautilus, which was built on a deserted island.

Nemo tries to project a stern, controlled confidence, but he is driven by a thirst for vengeance and a hatred of imperialism (particularly the British Empire). He is also wracked by remorse over the deaths of his crew members and even by the deaths of enemy sailors.

Paul Lukas as Professor Pierre Aronnax

Peter Lorre as Conseil

Ted de Corsia as Captain Farragut

Robert J. Wilke as Nautilus's First Mate

Carleton Young as John Howard
J. M. Kerrigan as Billy
Percy Helton as Coach driver
Ted Cooper as
Abraham Lincoln's First Mate
Fred Graham as Casey

20,000 Leagues Under the Sea received positive reviews from critics, and was the second highest grossing film of the year (behind White Christmas), earning $8 million in box office attendance in North America and has become a notable classic film of the Disney corporation.

Audiences fondly remember it primarily for its giant-squid battle sequence as well as the Nautilus itself and James Mason's portrayal of Nemo.

The film currently holds an 89% approval rating at the review aggregation website Rotten Tomatoes, with the consensus being: "One of Disney's finest live-action adventures, 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea brings Jules Verne's classic sci-fi tale to vivid life, and features an awesome giant squid." The film was also highly praised for the performances of the leading actors.

This was the first time that major international stars such as Kirk Douglas, James Mason, and Peter Lorre had appeared in a Disney film, although Robert Newton, a well-known actor in British films, had played Long John Silver in Disney's Treasure Island (1950), and Richard Todd, another well-known star of British films, had appeared in a Disney Technicolor live-action version of The Story of Robin Hood and His Merrie Men (1952).

Mason especially was singled out for his performance of Captain Nemo. Many people who had first seen him on-screen in the film identify him most strongly with this role.

Upon the film's original release, New York Times film critic Bosley Crowther gave the film a generally positive review by stating that, "As fabulous and fantastic as anything he has ever done in cartoons is Walt Disney's "live action" movie made from Jules Verne's '20,000 Leagues Under the Sea.'

Turned out in CinemaScope and color, it is as broad, fictitiously, as it is long (128 minutes), and should prove a sensation´┐Żat least with the kids." In his controversial 1967 biography The Disney Version, the usually prickly critic Richard Schickel, stated that James Mason was "superbly cast as the mad inventor Captain Nemo".

Modern-day film critic Steve Biodrowski said that the film is "far superior to the majority of genre efforts from the period (or any period, for that matter), with production design and technical effects that have dated hardly at all."

Biodrowski also added that the film "may occasionally succumb to some of the problems inherent in the source material (the episodic nature does slow the pace), but the strengths far outweigh the weaknesses, making this one of the greatest science-fiction films ever made."

Disneyland used the original sets as a walk-through attraction from 1955 to 1966. Walt Disney World Resort's Magic Kingdom also had a dark ride named 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea: Submarine Voyage from 1971 to 1994 which consisted of a submarine ride, complete with the giant squid attack.

For this ride, voice artist Peter Renaday stood in for James Mason in the role of Captain Nemo. In 1994, a walkthrough attraction at Disneyland Paris, named Les Myst´┐Żres du Nautilus, opened, and a dark ride at Tokyo DisneySea was created in 2001.

Awards and Nominations

The film won two Academy Awards and was nominated for one more.

Academy Awards (1954)
Won: Best Art Direction ´┐Ż Color
(John Meehan, Emile Kuri)
Won: Best Special Effects
(John Hench, Joshua Meador)
Nominated: Best Film Editing
(Elmo Williams)

The film's primary art designer, Harper Goff, who designed the Nautilus, was not a member of the Art Directors Union in 1954 and therefore, under a bylaw within the Academy of Motion Pictures, he was unable to receive his Academy Award for Art Direction.

Resources: Wikipedia.org, imdb.com,


In the year 1868, rumors of a sea monster attacking ships in the Pacific Ocean have created apprehension and fear among sailors, disrupting shipping lanes. The United States government invites Professor Pierre M. Aronnax and his assistant, Conseil, onto an expedition to prove or disprove the monster's existence.

One of their fellow crew is the cocky master harpooneer Ned Land. After months of searching, the "monster" is spotted. Though the ship fires at it with cannons, the monster rams the ship. Ned and Aronnax are thrown overboard, and Conseil goes in after Aronnax.

The warship, burning and helpless, drifts silently and no one on board answers when the overboard passengers cry for help. The three drift in the ocean, eventually finding a strange-looking metal vessel, and realize the "monster" is a man-made "submerging boat" that appears deserted.

Inside, Aronnax finds a viewing window and sees an underwater funeral. Ned, Aronnax, and Conseil then attempt to leave in their lifeboat, but the submarine crew returns to their ship, capturing the castaways. The captain introduces himself as Nemo, master of the Nautilus.

He returns Ned and Conseil to the deck, while offering Aronnax, whom he recognizes for his work and research, the chance to stay. When Nemo determines that Aronnax would die with his companions, he allows Ned and Conseil to board the submarine.

Nemo takes Aronnax to the penal colony island of Rura Penthe. Nemo reveals he was once a prisoner there, as were many of his crew. The prisoners are loading a munitions ship. The Nautilus rams the ship, destroying its cargo and killing the crew.

An anguished Nemo tells Arronax that his actions have saved thousands from death in war; he also discloses that this "hated nation" tortured his wife and son to death while attempting to force him to reveal the secrets of his work.

Ned discovers the coordinates of Nemo's secret island base, Vulcania, and releases messages in bottles, hoping somebody will find them and free him from captivity. Off the coast of New Guinea, the Nautilus becomes stranded on a reef.

Ned is surprised when Nemo allows him to go ashore with Conseil, ostensibly to collect specimens. Ned goes off alone to explore avenues of escape. While kneeling at a pool to drink he sees a number of human skulls on stakes.

Realizing his danger, Ned runs for his life and rejoins Conseil as they are chased back to the Nautilus by cannibals. Despite remaining aground, Nemo is unconcerned and the cannibals are repelled from the ship by electrical charges circulated on its hull.

Nemo is furious with Ned for not following his orders, and confines him to the submarine's brig. A warship approaches, firing upon the submarine. It descends into the depths, where it attracts the attentions of a giant squid.

The electric charge fails to repel the monster, so Nemo and his men surface to dislodge the beast. Nemo is caught in one of the squid's tentacles. Ned, having escaped from captivity during the struggle, jumps to Nemo's rescue, saving his captor's life.

As a result, Nemo has a change of heart; he claims now to want to make peace with the outer world. As the Nautilus nears Vulcania, Nemo finds the island surrounded by warships whose marines are converging on his hideout.

As Nemo goes ashore, Ned attempts to identify himself as the author of the bottled messages. Aronnax realizes this and becomes furious, recognizing that Nemo will destroy all evidence of his discoveries.

Nemo plants a bomb in his hideout, but is mortally wounded from a slug to the back while returning to the Nautilus. After haphazardly navigating the submarine away from Vulcania, Nemo announces he will be "taking the Nautilus down for the last time".

Nemo's crew declare they will accompany their captain in death. Aronnax, Conseil, and Ned are confined to their cabins. The Nautilus's crew also retreat to their cabins at Nemo's instructions.

Ned breaks loose and manages to surface the Nautilus, hitting a reef in the process and causing the ship to begin flooding. Nemo staggers to a viewing window and watches his beloved ocean as he dies.

Aronnax tries to retrieve his journal, which contains an account of the voyage, but the urgency of their escape obliges Ned to knock him unconscious and carry him out. The companions witness Vulcania destroyed in an explosion, while Ned apologizes to Aronnax for hitting him.

As the Nautilus disappears beneath the waves, Nemo's last words to Aronnax echo: "There is hope for the future. And when the world is ready for a new and better life, all this will someday come to pass, in God's good time."

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