Journey to the Center of the Earth

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Journey to the Center of the Earth
Lidenbrock sea 9403.jpg
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Original Title: Voyage au centre de la Terre
Written by: Jules Verne
Central Theme:
Synopsis: An expedition to the center of the earth discovers a prehistoric world underground.
Genre(s): Subterranean fiction
First published: November 25, 1864
More Information
Source: Read Journey to the Center of the Earth here

First, an 1864 Jules Verne Science Fiction novel (the French original being titled Voyage au centre de la Terre) about a German professor and his nephew who, inspired by a message left by a 16th-century alchemist named Arne Saknussemm, travel down volcanic tubes in an extinct Icelandic volcano. They then discover prehistoric animals and all sorts of danger as they go down farther. Verne was inspired by Charles Lyell's Geological Evidences of the Antiquity of Man to write it, although the science has not aged very well compared to his other books (at least, science as Professor Lidenbrock describes it).

Then were the numerous adaptations, including the 1959 film starring Pat Boone, with added characters such as Gertrude the duck and Count Saknussem, notable in its day for the special effects. In 2008 a 3D Movie starring Brendan Fraser was made, which spawned a Sequel and loose adaptation of The Mysterious Island which is, apparently, Atlantis.

There was also an Animated Adaptation by Filmation in the late 60's, and let's not forget the Concept Album by Rick Wakeman.

The 1980s-vintage B-Movie Alien From L.A. tips its hat to the original book by giving its main character the last name "Saknussemm".

Tropes used in Journey to the Center of the Earth include:

Tropes related to the book:

  • Attack of the 50-Foot Whatever: The Narrator is attacked by a giant crocodile and Ape Gigantius, but it's All Just a Dream. The plesiosaur and icthyosaur are real, though.
  • Beneath the Earth
  • Comic Trio: notably lampshaded, proving that this trope is older than the Three Stooges. Axel sees himself as the Only Sane Man, with Professor Lidenbrock as the idiotic leader and Hans as the even more idiotic follower. He later changes his mind...
  • Convection, Schmonvection: The explorers are carried up the tube of a volcano by lava on their raft of fossilized wood (an asbestos dish in the 1959 movie, a dinosaur skull in the 2008 one) which in real life would get them cooked alive.
  • Dub Name Change: Some editions of the novel change Axel's name to "Harry Lawson" and Lindenbrock's name to "Von Hardwigg."
  • Eccentric Mentor: Professor Lidenbrock.
  • Everything's Better with Dinosaurs: Everything's better with ancient marine reptiles.
  • Fee Fi Faux Pas: At the beginning of the book.
  • Fungus Humongous: The explorers find giant mushrooms in a huge underground cave.
  • Hollow Earth
  • Hot-Blooded: Professor Lindenbrock.
  • Indy Escape: A huge boulder inconveniently gets dislodged by an earth tremor and starts thundering down the tunnel our heroes happen to be in.
  • It's the Journey That Counts: The heroes don't get anywhere near the center of the Earth, but they become world famous anyway since the discoveries they've made are plenty revolutionary on their own.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Professor Lindenbrock has shades of this.
  • The Load: Axel, dear Axel. He spends the entire book moaning about going on the trip, trying to stop them from going. Always trying to get everybody to turn back. Is constantly fainting, getting lost, oh and it was his idea to use the gun-cotton near the end.
  • Lost World
  • Mad Scientist: Professor Lindenbrock; at least of the one-track mind type.
  • My Girl Back Home: Grauben
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: Axel's idea to use the gun-cotton not only nearly kills them and puts and end to the expedition, but also destroys the way downwards.
  • No Endor Holocaust: What happened to the Lindenbrock Sea and its unique flora and fauna after the explosion?
  • Pet the Dog: Lindenbrock becomes quite sympathetic when he thinks his quest will result in Axel's death, but then reverts back to his usual behavior as soon as they're safe again.
  • The Quiet One: Hans, professor Lindenbrock's and Axel's Icelandic guide.
  • Redheaded Hero: Hans.
  • Stay in the Kitchen: It could have been a good idea for Grauben to join the expedition instead of Axel. Even if she had been no more useful than Axel was, at least she wouldn't have been whining all the time, as she at least wanted to join (but though she cannot because she's a girl.)
  • The Stoic: Hans
  • Sundial Waypoint: How they locate the cave entrance.
  • What We Now Know to Be True: Axel keeps protesting every step of their adventure with fairly accurate comments about the heat and pressure of the Earth's interior, and the sheer impossibility of a navigable passage leading to the center of the Earth, all of which his uncle brushes aside as outdated theory. It's left open at the end who would've been proven right if they'd kept going.

Tropes related to the 1959 movie:

  • Absent-Minded Professor: Sir Oliver walks through the marching band of a Highland regiment because he's wrapped up in reading his newspaper.
  • Belligerent Sexual Tension: Sir Oliver Lindenbrook and Carla Göteborg.
  • Canon Foreigner: Professor Göteberg and his wife Carla, Gertrude the duck, and Count Saknussem.
  • Determined Widow: Carla Göteborg falls into this role before her husband is even in the ground.
  • Disney Villain Death: Count Saknussem
  • Fungus Humongous
  • Gentle Giant: Hans, until the moment he finds his beloved Gertrude has been eaten.
  • Hollywood Magnetism: The pole at center of the earth rips away Hans's gold tooth and Carla's wedding ring, which Sir Oliver takes the time to point was also gold.
  • I Fell for Hours
  • Jumped At the Call: Alec, who proposes to go on Sir Oliver's expedition instead of staying to marry his niece. This is the exact opposite of The Narrator in the novel, who only goes along because he doesn't have the courage to tell Sir Oliver where he can stick his mad idea of exploring the interior of the Earth.
  • Kick the Dog: Count Saknussem commits murder and mayhem to deter his rivals, but finally crosses the Moral Event Horizon for the audience when he eats Gertrude!
  • Self-Disposing Villain: After Count Saknussem has eaten Gertrude, Hans is fully prepared to commit murder. Fortunately, the villain enacts this trope instead.
  • Shirtless Scene: Pat Boone spends a number of scenes wearing nothing but shorts and oil, and Hans gets in on the action sometimes too. Even Sir Oliver manages to show off his Carpet of Virility once.
  • Slurpasaur: The movie features rock iguanas with plastic fins masquerading as Dimetrodons, and a tegu lizard covered in red paint as a "giant chameleon."
  • Team Pet: Gertrude the surprisingly useful duck.
  • Token Evil Teammate: Count Saknussem.

Tropes related to the 2008 movie:

  • Abandoned Mine: shortly after taking refuge in a cave on the side of an Icelandic volcano, the crew discovers a lava tube that leads to an abandoned mine shaft.
  • Beauty Is Never Tarnished: Come the end of the film, Hannah looks as fresh faced and blemish free as she does when we first meet her, despite the rough and tumble of their journey.
  • Belligerent Sexual Tension: Between Trevor and Hannah.
  • Can You Hear Me Now?: Getting a signal after walking into a cave and after a landside: impossible. Traversing an ocean miles underneath the surface of the Earth, in a thunderstorm: lousy reception.
  • Chekhov's Gun
    • The magnesium ore being easily inflamed by distress flares.
    • The thin layer of fragile rocks.
    • The gemstones...
  • Clothing Damage: Trevor ends up ripping one of the sleeves of his shirt. After a moment he rips the other one off himself.
  • Convection, Schmonvection
  • Drool Hello: The T. rex copiously drooling on Sean Anderson from above a boulder.
  • Flying Seafood Special
  • Fungus Humongous
  • Hot Scientist: Trevor Anderson. A given, since he's played by Brendan Fraser.
  • I Fell for Hours
  • Loyal Animal Companion: The bioluminescent bird.
  • Offhand Backhand: Trevor to a carnivorous plant.
  • Overly Long Scream: When the main characters fall down the hole leading to the center of the Earth. Of the "take a deep breath, then continue screaming" variety.
  • Rollercoaster Mine: Complete set with a jump a point where the track splits into three, follows the same route, finally meeting up at the same point.
  • Shoot the Money: Lots of point in the film show off the 3D... unless you're watching it in 2D of course, then it just looks a bit odd.
  • Soft Water: The heroes fall easily thousands of feet down a rock shaft and hit water with little more than a few gasps after they surface. They try to subvert this by using the walls as a "water slide" to slow their descent.
  • Tyrannosaurus Rex: Naturally chasing the protagonists. And a T. rex skull is later used as raft.
    • Actually, it's a Giganotosaurus

Tropes related to the 2012 movie:

  • Artifact Title: A mild case. The title would have made more sense if they had left off the "Journey 2" part, but there is technically a journey (just not to the center of the earth and it's not particularly long as they spend most of the movie trying to get off The Mysterious Island).
  • Canon Welding: This movie makes least the settings of Journey To The Center of The Earth and The Mysterious both equally real in-universe.
  • Do Not Call Me "Paul": Henry... er, I mean Hank. Actually, it's not made clear if Henry really is Hank's name, or if Hank isn't really a nickname, but all the same, Hank doesn't like being called Henry.
  • Fan Service: Vanessa Hudgens wearing a tank top and short shorts for almost the entire movie. Also, did any male viewers who saw it in 3D regret paying extra in the scene where she crawls out of a collapsing tunnel with the camera on her from behind? Thought not.
  • Genre Blindness: Hank. Lampshaded at one point.

Sean: "You didn't expect mysterious things from a place calledThe Mysterious Island? It's right there in the title."

  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Hank is a genuinely caring person, and does worry about Sean. But, the way he insults Sean's grandfather, in front of Sean, is just a tad mean-spirited. He gets better though.
    • Alexander, for mainly the same reasons. He and Hank pretty much take terms insulting and undermining each other for the first half of the movie before beginning to respect each other.
  • Male Gaze: Practically the moment Kaulani appears, in a tank top, the camera goes straight to her breasts.
  • Non-Singing Voice: Averted; that really is Dwayne Johnson singing "What A Wonderful World" with new lyrics (and again over the end credits, with the proper ones).
  • The Other Darrin: Sean's mother was played by Jane Wheeler in the 2008 film. Here, it's Kristen Davis.
  • Pec Flex: Hank's "Pec Pop of Love"
  • Shout-Out: The giant iguana is a huge Shout-Out towards monster movies in the 50s when they used iguanas and gators for dinosaurs.
  • Why Did It Have To Be Lizards? Why couldn't it be snakes?