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Film: Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea

20,000 Leagues Under the Sea is a 1954 film produced by Walt Disney Pictures and directed by Richard Fleischer. It is based on the novel by Jules Verne.

The film featured an All-Star Cast (Kirk Douglas as Ned Land, Paul Lukas as Professor Pierre Aronnax, Peter Lorre as Conseil, and James Mason as Captain Nemo) and a memorable design for the Nautilus as well as the memorable giant squid attack. It has become one of Disney's classics.

This film contains examples of:

  • Alas, Poor Villain: Nemo during the climax, as he stumbles to the window to look at the ocean one last time.
  • All in the Eyes: There is a helpful close-up of Nemo's eyes when he's dancing on the thin edge of insanity, as he has the Nautilus ram a ship full of explosives.
  • All Animals Are Dogs: Esmerelda the sea lion, although it's partly because Ned is deliberately training her to do tricks and/or imitate him.
  • Anti-Villain: Nemo.
  • Badass Beard: Nemo.
  • Battle in the Rain: The fight against the giant squid.
  • Big Bad: Captain Nemo, the man responsible for the ship attacks that get our heroes involved in the first place, imprisons them, and nearly kills them all when he lets the Nautilus sink at the end.
  • Big Damn Heroes / Save the Villain: Ned Land arrives in the middle of the giant squid attack, harpoons it right in the eye and saves Captain Nemo from drowning.
  • Boisterous Bruiser: Ned Land.
  • Chronic Back Stabbing Disorder: Ned Land, apparently unable to go a scene without attempting to betray Nemo in some small way.
  • Cool Ship: The design of the Nautilus in the film is considered the iconic look for the submarine.
  • Crouching Moron, Hidden Badass: Ned Land.
  • Cultural Translation: Ned Land's ambiguously American in this version, where in the novel he was unambiguously Canadian.
  • Death by Adaptation: Captain Nemo, as well as most of his crew.
  • Exotic Entree: Nemo serves a sautÚ of unborn octopus.
  • Foreign Queasine: The dinner party.
  • Foil: Ned is shown as one to Captain Nemo; Ned's red and white shirt contrasts with Nemo's dark blue uniform, Ned is warm and passionate where Nemo is cold and callous, Ned is obsessed with getting back to land where Nemo wants to be as far as possible from it- Ned is The Everyman where Nemo is the ▄bermensch.
  • Giant Squid
  • Grudging Thank You / Embarrassing Rescue: After Ned saves Nemo from the giant squid. It's the former for Nemo and the latter for Ned, despite the fact that he did the rescuing.
  • I Love Nuclear Power: While the original novel used electric power itself as Nemo's Applied Phlebotinum, the movie had him splitting the atom decades before his time.
  • Leitmotif: Both Ned and Nemo each have their own. Ned's is the song that he sings early in the film, "A Whale of a Tale". Nemo's is a piece called "Deep is the Mighty Ocean", which represents not only the depths of the ocean but also the depths of Nemo's soul. Both themes are used in different styles, depending on the scene of the film.
  • My Fist Forgives You: Ned punches Conseil before admitting friendship. And then, generously, allows Conseil to hit him in return.
    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.
  • No, Mr. Bond, I Expect You to Dine: The dinner party. See also: Foreign Queasine.
  • Notable Original Music: "A Whale of a Tale", a G-Rated Bawdy Song sung by Kirk Douglas in-character as Ned Land. The song also becomes a Leitmotif for Ned.
  • 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, as opposed to the Ambiguously Brown character in the book.
  • Taking You with Me: After a mortally-wounded Nemo plants the bomb to blow up Vulcania and plans to take the Nautilus to the ocean floor for the last time, his understanding crew confines Ned, Arronax and Conseil to their quarters, intending that they go with him. However, this is averted as Ned rebels and escapes with Arronax and Conseil (and also Nemo's pet sea lion) in the nick of time.
  • Steampunk: Harper Goff's design of the Nautilus may well be the Trope Codifier, as was Disney's decision to stage this as a period piece rather than attempt to modernize it (as did the earlier War of the Worlds).
    • An oddity, though, compared to later versions of Steampunk is that the Nautilus is powered by a nuclear reactor made a century ahead of its time, rather than a steam engine.
  • Straw Nihilist: Nemo.
  • 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.
  • What the Hell, Hero?: Ned Land frequently gives these to Nemo.

Twenty Four EyesFilms of the 1950sWhite Christmas

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