Fun Size Review: 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea (1916)

Breathtaking undersea photography is merged with overwrought acting and a screenplay that tries to do too many things at once. 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea is frustrating but ultimately worth the watch for the cinematography.

Due to the decision to include plot elements from The Mysterious Island, we never really get the same claustrophobic tone found in Jules Verne’s original novel and the inclusion of a “Child of Nature” character (that is, a woman in animal skins and blackface who randomly dances) is bizarre, to say the least.

How does it end? Hover or tap below for a spoiler.

Captain Nemo explains that he has been out for revenge and dies. He is buried under the sea.

Read my full-length review here. (I also cover the famous 1954 Disney version.)

If it were a dessert it would be: Cathedral Cookies. Interesting in appearance, less appealing in flavor.

Availability: Released on DVD.


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  1. Katie M

    I happen to agree that the talkie version is superior to the silent. I remember bursting out laughing when I first saw 1916 Nemo-not exactly the reaction the character should provoke. James Mason, on the other hand, is perfect in the role.

    Here’s something I’ve always found interesting-the 1954 squid battle was originally filmed at sunset in a calm sea. Walt Disney saw the footage and thought it looked awful, because it showed just how fake the squid was. He said they should have it happen during a storm instead to hide things better. I can’t even imagine the scene any other way, because the storm heightens the danger.

    1. Fritzi Kramer

      Yes, when I think of Captain Nemo, “orientalist Santa Claus” is not exactly what comes to mind. 😉

      Squids and storms: Now there’s an example of killing two cephalopods with one stone!

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