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20,000 Leagues Under the Sea

3.2 out of 5 stars 20 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Released by Universal in 1916, "20,000 Leagues Under the Sea" was the first great special effects spectacular of early cinema. Based on the Jules Verne novel, the story concerns a team of scientists investigating a series of naval disturbances who find the culprit is the Nautilus, a submarine piloted by Captain Nemo, a hate-driven renegade seaman. Over a year-and-a-half in production, "20,000 Leagues Under the Sea" is a colorful recreation of Verne's science fiction classic.

Special Features

None.

Product Details

  • Actors: Allen Holubar, Dan Hanlon, Edna Pendleton, Curtis Benton, Matt Moore
  • Directors: Stuart Paton
  • Writers: Stuart Paton, Jules Verne
  • Producers: Stuart Paton, Carl Laemmle
  • Format: AC-3, Black & White, NTSC, Silent
  • Language: English (Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo)
  • Region: All Regions
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated:
    NR
    Not Rated
  • Studio: Image Entertainment
  • DVD Release Date: January 26, 1999
  • Run Time: 105 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 3.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (20 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: 6305268150
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #191,343 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "20,000 Leagues Under the Sea" on IMDb

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: DVD
This version of Jules Verne's classic is unique in so far as it concentrates upon the character of Captain Nemo, providing considerable material on his background, most of which has been neglected in subsequent adaptations. The groundbreaking underwater photography is still amongst the best on film. This print is a little scratched in places, but on the whole it's still an excellent copy. The color tinting effectively sets the atmosphere for each scene, and an appropriate musical score in Dolby Digital Stereo adds tremendously to the viewing experience. I highly recommend this DVD to any connoisseur of early cinema.
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Format: DVD
A special effects laden sci-fi blockbuster in 1916? That's exactly what this film was. It was one of the very first films to make extensive use of underwater photography. Almost too extensive in fact. While long panoramas of coral reefs and sea beds in black and white might have thrilled audiences in 1916, they can start to get a little tedious to modern viewers. Overall, though, this version of the classic Jules Verne tale is very well presented. The acting and visuals are good for that time time period. The film goes beyond the book to present a very unique explaination of Capt. Nemo's origins and motives. This Capt. Nemo is very different from the one in the Disney productions that would follow. It's worth a look for any fan of the Jules Verne classic.
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Format: DVD
Image Entertainment 1999 Release

This is a very hard movie to rate, as one has to take into account not only the entertainment value, but it's historic value as well. As an entertainment entity, I believe it fails. Scenes between three different tales keep alternating, and it isn't until the end of the movie that one finally realizes how they all tie together. (Jules Verne's books "20,000 Leagues..." and "Mysterious Island", are both intertwined into the plot of the movie, along with a storyline created just for the film.) Add to that an inordinate amount of time showing underwater shots which, while I'm sure were wonderful in their day, were eclipsed long ago by the likes of Jacques Cousteau, and you have both a confusing, and rather boring film.

That said, if one views this movie from an historic perspective, it can be quite enjoyable. After all, this was made in 1916, and was one of the first films to have such underwater photography. The octopus, as an extremely early special effect, would be quite convincing, if it weren't for the readily apparent fake eyes.

As for the DVD, the source used was quite good, considering the age of the film. I can't say how it would look on a large monitor, and I'm guessing that it is probably interlaced. However, on my smaller widescreen TV, it looked quite nice. The musical accompaniment was wonderful. It fit both the era of the film, and was scene appropriate.

The transfer may have benefitted from windowboxing (to make up for overscan), as some of the intertitles are pretty tight. However, given this is a 1999 release, I think it looks quite good.

If you are interested in cinema history, I would recommend this disc. However, if you are looking for pure entertainment, go with the 1954 version of the film (which is quite a different story, too).
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Format: DVD Verified Purchase
This was a remarkable production in 1917, well-preserved and intelligently tinted. The story includes Jules Verne's 20,000 Leagues under the Sea, Mysterious Island, and plot points not thought of by Jules Verne. There is a music score, alternating between a stereo orchestral accompaniment and choppy monophonic piano. Underwater photography is very impressive with the rest of the photography not far behind.
The DVD provides a satisfying presentation of a ground-breaking film. There are no special features. Very much worthwhile.
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Format: Amazon Video Verified Purchase
Fantastic surprise to find this black and white classic film. I thought I'd never see it. It combines both "20,000 Leagues...and Mysterious inland", In a truly technological wonder, shouting film under water. The "20,000 Leagues...", follows the book well for this silent film. It's a KEEPER!
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Format: DVD
Combines 20,000 Leagues, Mysterious Island, and a scenario that you could call "the lost daughter of Capt. Nemo". This is strictly for silent movie fans and hardcore Jules Verne fans. I'm glad that I waited for a less expensive version. The average person may find this slow and boring compared to modern edited movies.

The Alpha Video image is decent, the classical music soundtrack gets repetitive, some missing title cards have been replaced, and this copy doesn't have any color tinting. The submarine exterior prop is loosely based on actual contemporary designs.

This is a DVD-R.
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Format: DVD Verified Purchase
The Image edition of this film is the only one I would recommend. The print damage is expected and this DVD is overall good and very watchable. The tinting looks very good and the music score is great. The title card has been redone and the other credits and intertitles appear to belong to the film as best I can tell. Overall, I found it historically significent and entertaining.
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Format: DVD Verified Purchase
With all famous, classic stories which have been remade several times over the decades, it can be difficult not to compare one version with the other, especially when one of them was made in the middle of the silent film era. So it's important to keep in mind that this early 1916 version of Jules Verne's classic was a state-of-the-art superior production at that time, complete with exciting battle scenes, special effects and even the first real underwater photography. The film even opens with a credit to the two inventors of the new underwater camera, as well as a suitable little tribute to Jules Verne's amazing foresight as he described submarines and other futuristic things half a century before they were invented. Keeping all this mind, viewing this silent version of "20,000 Leagues Under the Sea" becomes a whole new adventure, and even though the underwater shots, old-fashioned diving suits and short battle scenes are humdrum for us today, they are still of good quality even by today's standards, and must have been an exciting spectacle for audiences back in 1916.

While not entirely faithful to Verne's original, the story is quite interesting and involves far more than just showing off the technology of the period with many underwater and submarine scenes. In fact, for a 1916 production, this film is particularly sophisticated on various levels, and with careful editing the lives of three different groups of people are related, leading to a climax which shows how all their paths cross and how they are connected. There is Captain Nemo with his mysterious quest for revenge, some balloonists who become stranded on an island where a wild girl lives, and then the man plagued by a guilty conscience who returns to this island in search of the girl.
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