20,000 Leagues Under the Sea (1954 film)

Everything About Fiction You Never Wanted to Know.
Jump to navigation Jump to search

A 1954 film adaptation of the book by Jules Verne made by Walt Disney Pictures - its first live-action science fiction film. The film featured an all-star cast (Kirk Douglas as Ned Land, Peter Lorre as Conseil, and James Mason as Captain Nemo) and a memorable design for the Nautilus. It won Academy Awards for Best Art Direction and Best Special Effects and has become one of Disney's classics.

Tropes used in 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea include:

Ned: "Go ahead!" [sticks out chin]
Conseil: "Well if you insist." [punches Ned in the stomach]

  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: Ned and Conseil try sending messages in bottles with the location of Nemo's Island Base hoping for a rescue; instead, the base gets attacked just as Nemo was considering sharing his secrets with the world.
  • Notable Original Music: "A Whale of a Tale", a G-Rated Bawdy Song sung by Kirk Douglas in-character as Ned Land.
  • Ominous Pipe Organ: Nemo plays one. Cut to Ned tuning him out with a homemade banjo.
  • Old Media Are Evil: Some subtext to this, when the reporters unabashedly twist Professor Arronax's words.
  • Race Lift: Captain Nemo, who is definitely Caucasian in this version.
  • Team Pet: Esmeralda the sea lion, who changes loyalties from Nemo to Ned through the film.
  • The Pirates Who Don't Do Anything: Not quite, but in the opening scenes of the movie we see 3 ships sunk or crippled on-screen by the Nautilus and it's clear that several other ships have met similar fates in a short amount of time. But once the main characters come on board, Nemo and his men become the Pirates Who Hardly Do Anything, only attacking one ship on-screen over the course of many months - and dialogue supports that this is the only ship attacked in that time period, so we know he didn't go after anything else during any time jumps.
  • Ungrateful Bastard: Ned Land. No matter how many times Nemo happens to save his worthless hide, after some calamity that Ned has inevitably caused during his escape attempts, he will always plan to betray him again by the very next scene.
  • Wham! Line: But by this point observing, studying, and classifying were out of the question.
  • What the Hell, Hero?: Ned Land frequently gives these to Nemo, despite being the usual cause of the predicaments in the first place.