An interesting version of Jules Verne's classic tale.
(4 out of 5 stars)
"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."
Classic Jules Verne
Nick Smiles | Western Australia | 07/31/2000
(4 out of 5 stars)
"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."
An interesting piece of history but not much of a movie
Trevor Willsmer | London, England | 04/30/2006
(3 out of 5 stars)
"The 1916 version of 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea was a landmark in special effects in its day, but 90 years on it's a mere historical curiosity. It's not that it's particularly bad, more that it's very flatly directed even for its day and the passage of time has dealt it some particularly low blows. Although in the first draft of the novel Nemo was clearly identified as a Pole waging a private war with Russia before Verne's publishers and the French censors objected, the film goes off on its own to make him a wronged Indian Prince (Allen Holubar) with a penchant for wearing Santa Claus suits: the fact that his crew alternately seem to be dressed as elves or pastry chefs does not help matters much. Then there's his long-lost daughter, introduced as a `child of nature' skipping and dancing through the jungle in so insipid a manner that she even scares off the cheetahs. Looking like a cross between a young Bette Midler playing Elmo Lincoln in blackface and Spike Milligan playing Little Eva while being poked with a cattle prod, Jane Gail's performance is every negative clich? about silent movie acting incarnate. Little of Verne's episodic plot remains: having introduced Professor Aronnax and Ned Land, the hunting trip aside, the film promptly ignores them for the rest of its running time in favor of a plot drawn loosely from Verne's other Nemo novel, Mysterious Island. Still, it's watchable enough even if it doesn't give Richard Fleischer's 1954 version much of a run for its money."