• Carlos Ninez

Film Review: 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea


If you’ve ever heard the name “20,000 Leagues Under the Sea”, you’ve probably thought of one of two things: the 1870 book or the 1954 movie. Both the film and the book are amazing for those interested in under sea marvels, or just a plain good adventure, but the book is a topic for another time.

The film is set in the year 1868, and follows three characters; a professor, his assistant and a charismatic harpooner. These three journey across the atlantic ocean to find a “giant narwhal” that has been wreaking havoc to boats on the oceans. Their journey is halted midway however, as they thrown overboard and onto the “giant narwhal”, which turns out to actually be a nuclear submarine (made in a time long before proper submarines). The movie has a lot to live up to, as the book was revolutionary when it first came out, as it (being written before the creation of the first electric submarine) was extremely revolutionary.

The book has an almost identical plot, however it goes into great depth explaining how the fictional submarine worked. While these explanations are great for people deeply interested submarines and must have been quite interesting when the book was first published, they are quite mundane to the general modern readers. The movie recognizes this, and changes the book`s electrical submarine to a nuclear one. Being a Disney film, they also dumb down the explanations of the ship's workings to cater more to the child audience (however, it still mostly maintains the book’s serious plot and characters). It’s effects and props are also so great they are often called one of the main birthplaces to the steampunk genre.

As an young adult, this film fascinates me for it`s generally amazing effects, brilliant action and story that have more than held up over the last 60 years. So amazed by this film, I decided to show it to my two younger sisters. Though one of them disliked it, calling it “too old”, the other instantly grew a liking to it, even talking about it days after she watched it. She mentioned it to several of her friends who, in turn, watched it and grew a liking to it.

It is for these reasons and more that I give this film an 8 .5/10 . The film is brilliant in almost every conceivable way, however I think modern audiences might not enjoy the superb yet slightly aged effects, as well as several technological concepts that may not connect to modern audiences. However, if you are a fan of submarines, underwater marvels or movies in general, this film is for you.

Image source: https://alternativemovieposters.com/amp/20000-leagues-under-the-sea-by-ken-taylor/