|Captain Nemo, telescoping|
Perhaps it was a mistake, then, to go straight from the book to the film, especially to this very early adaptation, made shortly after Verne's death. After all, films are often (though not always) less satisfying than the original books. And, indeed, the best films tend not to have been books at all. This 1916 work is a technical marvel. Proudly it proclaims itself 'the first submarine teleplay ever filmed', as it has the first ever underwater shots. These were achieved, not through invention and use of an underwater camera, but by filming through a periscope of sorts, meaning that any shot with a fish in it is rather blearier and somehow less deliberate-looking than the above-water shots.
|I could have shown you a shot of sharks, but they were blurry and awful,|
and reading this caption is more likely to thrill you to terror.
I can't condemn the film for lack of ambition, as it not only adapts that great submarine work '20,000 Leagues Under the Sea', but throws in its sequel 'The Mysterious Island', which, somebody has clearly decided, happened exactly simultaneously. One affect of this is that the real story of the original book, and its emotional core - Ned Land and Monsieur Arronax trying to escape - is cut entirely. Another unfortunate impact is that there are too many characters. The lack of any close-ups at all, and the fact that everybody dresses the same (except Nemo, who dresses like Father Christmas) means the myriad characters are indistinguishable.
All in all, it's a bit of a mess. In its time, a fabulously expensive mess, and one which did at least give audiences their first view of real live fish under the sea, a spectacle entirely lost on more fish-savvy modern viewers.
|Seriously? He probably left it out on purpose.|
P.P.S. The next update is from eleven years later, and will put this film to shame. Since I've got a '20s film following a '10s one, I might see if I can post one from the 30s after that, and give you ten consecutive posts from consecutive decades, if that makes any sense.
I bet, after my descriptions, you don't want to watch the film. But in case you do, here it is.
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