Making the Grades
Disney's 20,000 Leagues Under The Sea is a swashbuckling story of danger and adventure on the high seas. Deep beneath the ocean's surface lurks a menacing threat that ambushes ships without warning, ripping into their hulls and sending the sailors on board to a watery grave. Determined to discover the reason behind the mysterious attacks, the U.S. Navy sends out an expedition that includes the famous French marine scholar, Professor Pierre Aronnax (Paul Lukas) and his assistant Conseil (Peter Lorre).
When their own ship is attacked, the Frenchmen are thrown overboard along with blustering harpooner Ned Land (Kirk Douglas). Drifting in the ocean, they happen upon the "monster," a highly advanced atomic submarine created by the equally intriguing Captain Nemo (James Mason). The men are taken prisoner and hauled into the metal belly of the Nautilus. In short order they realize that Nemo's undersea utopia holds is own stash of dark secrets along side the futuristic innovations.
This 1954 Academy award winning film (for Special Effects) portrays a man disillusioned with the inhumanities of mankind. With the help of his loyal crewmembers, Captain Nemo creates a self-sustaining underwater paradise. Yet despite his pioneering inventions, his aggressive and retaliatory attacks on passing ships throw this renegade on the wrong side of the law.
Although Disney has added a playful seal and a couple of rowdy sailor songs by tough-guy Kirk Douglas to lighten the story, the film still contains enough energetic fight scenes and sinking ships that parents may not feel it is appropriate for younger children. However, older audiences may better understand the destructive power hatred can have in the life of a brilliant man. Serving as an introduction into the highly imaginative world of Jules Verne, this film may be worth fishing around for on a Friday night.
Discussion Ideas After The Movie
Teaching ideas and topics to discuss about 20,000 Leagues Under The Sea.
Although Captain Nemo created some wonderful inventions, he is unwilling to share his ideas with others because he harbors hate in his heart. Why is he unwilling to forgive? Do his feelings keep him from helping mankind?
Jules Verne’s book 20,000 Leagues Under The Sea was written in 1870, long before men imagined inventions like submarines. Do you know what other things Verne wrote about long before they were invented? You can research more in his other books, Around The World In Eighty Days and A Journey To The Center Of The Earth. (Both have also been made into movies.)