Friday, March 07, 2014

Sailing another 20,000 Leagues?

Disney's film of 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea was a masterpiece 60 years ago and has held up pretty well.  Two TV remakes in 1997 tried to outdo each other for sheer awesome stupidity and general suckiness (they had some decent actors, but what they did with them...ugghh.)  

There was almost another remake, and it looked darn good.  The concept artist whose work is reproduced here designed a terrific submarine using 19th-century ideas, forgoing the iconic nature of Disney's sub for something more Vernian. The Disney sub is terrific to look at, both menacing and artistic, but it must have had, based on the sets in the film, an interior far bigger than its exterior, making it sort of an unintentional pre-Doctor Who seagoing TARDIS.  The squid-faced sub in the League of Extraordinary Gentlemen graphic novels was very cool, while the ocean-liner-size craft in the film version of League was as ridiculous as the rest of the movie.  Here's a great page collecting all the Nautilus designs from Verne's day onwards.

Verne used a lot of sea creatures, most of them depicted inaccurately even for the knowledge of his day and some of them terribly wrong (I still want to see a shark streaming phosphorescence).   But the novel was a work of genius, and it still is.  If there's a another remake - and it's rather inevitable there will be one - I hope it not only reflects the rousing storytelling of Verne's original, but all we've learned about the ocean and its creatures - some of them beyond knowledge or even imagination for an author writing in 1870. 

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