20,000 Leagues Under the Sea
aka Jules Verne's 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea
Adventure / Drama / Science Fiction
Directed by Richard Fleischer
J. M. Kerrigan as Billy
Percy Helton as Coach
Fred Graham as Casey
20,000 Leagues Under the Sea is a 1954 science fiction film produced by Walt Disney
Productions and directed by Richard Fleischer. Released by Buena Vista, this was the first full-length film released by Dinsey’s in-house distributor. Previous films had been released by RKO.
In 1868, after receiving numerous reports of a great horned whale that has been attacking ships, the U.S. government engages Professor Pierre Aronnax and his assistant, Conseil, to investigate. The professor and his assistant, accompanied by experienced sailor Ned Land, set off on a war ship to find if the mysterious creature is real or imagined.
After sailing for months, the crew of the war ship finally spots the monster
, and the monster
immediately advances to attack the ship. When their ship is rammed by the monster
, Aronnax, Conseil and Ned Land are thrown overboard. Drifting helplessly in the ocean with no help from the damaged war ship, the three men realize the monster
that had attacked them is actually a ‘submerging boat’. They manage to climb aboard and the boat
seems to be deserted, but as they investigate the see, through a huge viewing window, an underwater funeral.
When the crew returns to their ship they take the three men into custody. The captain of the submerging boat introduces himself as Captain Nemo, and tells them the boat
is called Nautilus.
Captain Nemo intends to submerge his ship, and sends Conseil and Ned Land up to the deck where they will drown. Knowing of Professor Aronnax’s work, Nemo offers to spare him but Aronnax refuses and so Nemo changes his mind, allowing the three men to travel with him and his crew aboard the Nautilus.
They visit the penal colony island of Rura Penthe where Nemo was once a prisoner, and where his wife and son had been killed, and Nemo rams a departing munitions ship, destroying its cargo and killing the entire crew, an action he says will save thousands from death in war.
Their adventures continue as they are stranded on a reef and Land and Conseil leave the ship in search of research specimens (Ned is really looking for a chance to escape
) and are chased by cannibals. They are later attacked by a war ship and submerge, only to be attacked by a giant
squid. When the Captain is caught by one of the squid’s tentacles, Ned Land saves his life.
Up until now, Nemo has carefully guarded his secrets of the sea, but now decides he must share his knowledge. They sail for Nemo’s island, Vulcania, only to find it surrounded and under attack by a fleet of war ships. Nemo goes ashore, planting a bomb to destroy his hideout and his secrets, and is shot as he returns to the Nautilus. He has decided to ‘take the Nautilus down for the last time’ and his crew all volunteer to go with him to their deaths.
The three captives, confined to their cabins, will also suffer the fate of the crew of the Nautilus, but Ned Land breaks free and surfaces the ship which then crashes onto a reef and begins to flood with water.