Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas from Magical Movie Reviews!  Please stick with us into 2012 for many more reviews!

 

Here is a Christmas video I took earlier in the month at Walt Disney World, to add to your festivities!

 

Happy Holidays!

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Be Back Soon!

There will be no new Magical Movie Reviews for a little while, so I thought I would share with you a very festive/sickening/sweet video I took of It’s a Small World at Christmastime.  We will be back in a couple of weeks, until then please keep sharing us and ‘liking’ us on Facebook and on StumbleUpon. 🙂

 

 

 

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The Nightmare Before Christmas

Twas a long time ago, longer now than it seems 
In a place that perhaps you’ve seen in your dreams 
For the story that you are about to be told 
Began with the holiday worlds of old…

Originally I was planning on reviewing this film for Halloween, however with the film being a crossover of Halloween and Christmas, I decided to aim more for Thanksgiving.

I went to see The Nightmare Before Christmas when it was released in 1993, and although I was about 4 at the time, I still enjoyed it, and have loved watching it ever since.  It was originally released under the Touchstone Pictures banner, since it was thought that it was too dark to be released as a Walt Disney Picture.  The movie is entirely stop motion animated, and took 3 years to complete.  It is based on a poem by Tim Burton.

The title sequence introduces us to an assortment of bizarre and wacky supporting characters who reside in Halloween Town.  The song ‘This is Halloween’ sets the tone for the rest of the film with its upbeat tune and dark lyrics.  We are then introduced to the hero of the story, Jack Skellington, the Pumpkin King of Halloween Town.  The people of the town seem to adore him, and he plays up to their cheers, however, we soon see that Jack is bored with his role of Pumpkin King when he wanders off forlornly into the woods.  Another great song here as Jack sings about his boredom with the ‘same routine’ every year, and how he longs for something different.  Jack walks through the night until he is in a part of the woods he’s never been to before.  It is here that Jack discovers the ‘Holiday Doors’.  There are several trees standing in a circle, and on each tree there is an image representing a different holiday, including; a four-leaf clover for St. Patrick’s Day, a heart for Valentine’s Day, and a turkey for Thanksgiving.  Out of all these doors, Jack is drawn towards the one which has a Christmas tree painted on it.  He opens the door and falls into the tree, which transports him to Christmas Town.

Meanwhile, Jack’s love interest, a rag doll named Sally, is being held against her will by her creator, Dr. Finkelstein, though she often manages to outsmart him so that she can escape his lab.  Sally is concerned for Jack, who has seemed distant and lonely recently.  The love story between Jack and Sally runs very loosely (almost not at all) throughout the whole film.

Christmas Town is in massive contrast to Halloween Town, adorned with lights, awash with brilliantly bright colours, and inhabited by cheery and joyful people.  Another rousing song by Jack at this point illustrates his disbelief at such a different place to what he is used to, as he asks ‘What’s This?’  The lyrics are quite amusing too:

‘There’s children throwing snowballs, instead of throwing heads/they’re busy building toys and absolutely no-one’s dead.’

It is here that Jack gets a glimpse of Santa Claus, though he mistakes him for ‘Sandy Claws’.  He is so taken with the idea of Christmas that he heads back to Halloween Town to tell his fellow townspeople about it.  While Jack was away, the town seems to have descended into a state of chaos, even the Mayor of the town declaring that:

‘I’m only an elected official here; I can’t make decisions by myself!

Jack becomes obsessive over Christmas, trying to learn all he can about it, and this causes him to decide that he will take over Christmas for the year; all with the best intentions of course.  He sets all the people in the town to work making Christmas toys, including a hat made out of a rat and a duck with bleeding gunshot wounds.  At this point it becomes obvious that the people of Halloween Town have not understood the meaning of Christmas.  Jack also goes to the extreme of sending his enemy’s henchmen, Lock, Shock and Barrel to kidnap Sandy Claws.  After making the mistake of trawling back with the Easter Bunny, they return later with Santa in a big sack, and are told by Jack to take care of him while he ‘does’ Christmas.  Sally starts to get more and more concerned for Jack, having visions of his idea going terribly wrong, though he doesn’t listen when she tries to tell him.

Up until this point in the film, we have not been introduced to the villain of the story, though he does make a brief appearance in the opening sequence, only as a shadow.  Oogie Boogie has Santa given to him by Lock, Shock and Barrel, and sets to work torturing the poor soul.  One of the most visually exciting parts of the whole film, Oogie Boogie sings ‘Oogie Boogie’s Song’, which tells of the ways he likes to inflict pain and suffering upon his ‘guests’.  The whole scene is set in Oogie’s dark lair, though all the objects like his roulette wheel and dice are fluorescent colours; even Oogie himself, who is usually a brown colour, is bright green under UV lights.

Meanwhile, Jack has set out to create his own Christmas, with his sidekick ghost dog Zero lighting the way for the sleigh in the fog with his glowing nose.  Nice play on Rudolf the Red Nosed Reindeer.  Since Jack never really got the idea of Christmas straight in his skull, he starts delivering presents such as severed heads and snakes to several children in the ‘real world’.  After the police are alerted to someone posing as Santa, Jack is unfortunately shot out of the sky, landing in a snow-covered graveyard.  It is at this stage that Jack realises he has made a mess of everything, and vows to put it right by rescuing Santa from Oogie Boogie and getting Christmas back on track.

The styling of the film, especially Halloween Town, reminds me a lot of The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari, with its sharp silhouettes and weird perspectives.  Christmas Town has more of a Dr. Seuss feeling about it, and is rather similar to the town in The Grinch.  One of the most iconic images from the film is Spiral Hill, which can be seen on the original movie poster, as well as in the Kingdom Hearts series of games, where the whole of the Nightmare world can be explored.

The voice cast are pretty amazing on this film, though by now we shouldn’t expect anything less from Disney.  Jack is voiced by Chris Sarandon and his singing parts are performed by Danny Elfman.  Catherine O’Hara voices Sally and Shock, and Ken Page voices Oogie Boogie.

The music, as I have mentioned above, is amazing, and possibly one of the best film soundtracks I have ever heard.  The songs were written by Danny Elfman, as well as him lending his singing voice to Jack Skellington.  It is hard to choose a favourite song out of the whole bunch, as the lyrics on each track are fantastic and are performed beautifully by the cast.

The Nightmare Before Christmas saw a revival in 2006 when it was released in Disney Digital 3D.  I was lucky enough to catch it on its 3D release and it looked better than it ever did!  Although I am reviewing from the DVD, I have heard that this film gains a lot by being viewed on Blu-ray.  The special features on the 2 disc DVD are pretty good, though in fact, disc number one holds all of the ‘Making Of’ features, which in my opinion are the best features to watch.  There is also a big section on the Disneyland Haunted Mansion’s Nightmare Before Christmas overlay which is really interesting.  On disc 2 is Tim Burton’s short live-action film Frankenweenie, which is a nice watch, along with his animated short Vincent.

As a side note, Disneyland overlay their Haunted Mansion each year to make it look like Jack Skellington just landed down the chimney and decorated the place.  There is a Spiral Hill in there as well as Oogie Boogie and Jack Skellington with Zero floating by his side.  If you ever get a chance to visit over Christmas time, you really should!

You could be forgiven for thinking that this film has rather a morbid aura about it, however it more than makes up for the gloom with plenty of jokes and quirky characters throughout.  The music also lifts the viewer’s spirits even when the subject matter is a little bit gruesome.  Tim Burton’s direction is as interesting as ever and really does not disappoint.  Hopefully if you have never seen this film before you will give it a fair chance, as it isn’t just for the tween Goths and Emos, it is for anyone who loves Christmas, Halloween and simply being entertained.

I give this movie 5 Tinks.

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Mickey’s Christmas Carol

 

It may be a little early in the year to start reviewing Christmas movies, so I got around that problem by reviewing a short instead.  Mickey’s Christmas Carol was released in 1983 along with the reissue of The Rescuers.  The story is familiar to us all; Ebenezer Scrooge is a selfish man who has no joy or compassion in his heart, and in this take on the classic, Scrooge McDuck plays, very appropriately, Scrooge.  He works in a counting house in London, along with his sole employee Bob Cratchit, who is played by Mickey Mouse.  His wife is of course Minnie Mouse, who doesn’t actually speak in this short, and they have three children (mini Mickeys and Minnies!)  On Christmas Eve, Scrooge is visited by three ghosts, as well as his deceased business partner Jacob Marley, played by Goofy.  The first ghost is The Ghost of Christmas Past, played by Jiminy Cricket.  The second is The Ghost of Christmas Present, played by Willie the Giant, as seen in the Jack and the Beanstalk segment of Fun and Fancy Free.  The third and final ghost is The Ghost of Christmas Future, and is played by the original Disney villain from Steamboat Willie, Pete, who is wearing hooded robes, and smoking a cigar!

After Scrooge’s encounters with the three spirits/ghosts, he is a changed man, flashing his cash all over the town and being kind to everyone.  Happy endings all round!

I think that the best way to look at this version of Charles Dickens’ story is by comparing it to a couple of others.  Muppet’s Christmas Carol is clearly superior to this version, though that is mainly due to the one-liners that the Muppets pride themselves for.  The more recent version of A Christmas Carol starring Jim Carrey was, visually, a masterpiece in my opinion, and the visuals alone made up for the story which we have seen regurgitated time and time again.  If you are a big Disney fan and are familiar with a lot of the older characters, you will spot a few cameos in this short, in addition to the ones already mentioned above.  Mr. Toad plays Fezzywig, and also in his scene you may recognise animals from Robin Hood.  On the street there are also a few folks who I believe to be from Basil the Great Mouse Detective.  This was the last film for which Clarence Nash provided the voice of Donald Duck.

I think that this short would be suited best to younger children, as it does not run too long, and tells the story with some very familiar characters.  This is in comparison to the other two films mentioned above which can be mildly scary in places.

 

I am reviewing this short from the Walt Disney Treasures DVD-Mickey Mouse in Living Colour Volume Two; however you can also watch it on Mickey’s Magical Christmas – Snowed in at the House of Mouse, which also includes some other festive fun.

I give this short 4 Tinks.

 

 

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Happy Halloween!

Happy Halloween from Magical Movie Reviews!  I hope everyone has a fantastically frightening time carving pumpkins and eating lots of candy!  Check out the Haunted Mansion movie review.  Here is a video from Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party that I took last year, including Hallowishes and the Boo to You Parade with the Headless Horseman!

Have a wonderful Halloween!

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The Haunted Mansion


It has a Living Room, and a Dying Room…

Ok, so at the time of writing, Halloween is only a few days away, so I thought I would get cracking with a review of one of Disney’s supposedly more spooky efforts, The Haunted Mansion.

The film starts off nicely, with a promising title sequence which gives a nod to the floating candelabra in the Haunted Mansion attraction.  We are also given a glimpse of a back story, which doesn’t seem to give much away to the viewer.  We are then introduced to workaholic Jim Evers, (Eddie Murphy) who is a realtor, and his slightly neglected wife Sara (Marsha Thomason), who are due to celebrate their anniversary.  It appears that Jim had not been too attentive to his family recently, so to try to get back in his family’s good books; Jim decides to take them all on a trip to the lake for the weekend.  Before they leave, Sara receives a phone call from Edward Gracey (Nathaniel Parker), who is looking to sell his property, a large mansion near an isolated bayou.  On their way to the lake, Jim and his family stop off at the mansion to do some business.  When they arrive, they are solemnly greeted by Master Gracey’s butler, Ramsley (Terence Stamp) who then introduces them to Mr. Gracey himself.  It is made painfully clear to the audience that Master Gracey has a questionable interest in Sara, Jim’s wife; however Jim seems pretty oblivious to that at this point.

Ramsley has a chat with Jim, and then leaves him alone in the library, where Jim accidentally stumbles upon a secret passage into a long corridor.  It is at this point in the film where a lot of influences from the attraction can be seen.  The schizophrenic pictures on the wall will be familiar to Disney theme park fans, as well as the ‘inside out’ busts and the ride’s signature purple wallpaper with glaring eyes.  At the end of the long corridor Jim finds a door that appears to be bulging, with what he suspects to be termites.  He passes through the door and continues deeper into the mysterious darkness.  Meanwhile his two children are following a floating ‘glow’ up into the attic, (time to whip out your imagination a bit at this point) where we can see a bridal gown (another Haunted Mansion reference) as well as countless other cobweb-clad objects.  In the attic they see a portrait of what appears to be their mother, but are sharply told not to ask any questions by a strange little man, who is actually a ghost called Ezra, and a jumpy maid called Emma.

In the meantime, Jim encounters Madame Leota (Jennifer Tilly) in the séance room.  Fans of the ride will be familiar with this scene, where Madame Leota’s head smoothly recites incantations from inside a glass ball.  There are musical instruments floating within the room that periodically make noises in response to her readings.  Jim has a very strange encounter with Leota and is seen running down a corridor trying to escape a cacophony of instruments from the séance room; this is one of the film’s many pathetic attempts at comedy.  We then learn that Master Gracey is in fact dead, and needs Sara (who he believes is a reincarnation of his lover) to be reunited with him to free all of the residents of the mansion, who are also all ghosts.  We are then treated to what is possibly the best part of the movie (at a stretch), as Jim and his children are carried through the grounds of the house in a horse and carriage.  Haunted Mansion fans will recognise the horseless carriage from outside of the attraction in Disneyland and Walt Disney World.  It is also here that we see a lot of the ghosts which occupy the famous attraction, the see-saw ghosts, the groundskeeper and his dog, and the particularly famous ‘Hitchhiking Ghosts’, also known as Phineas, Ezra and Gus.


Things become a little more tedious after this scene, and the rest of the story limps along lifelessly, however I won’t spoil the ending for anyone who wants to give this movie a fair chance!

The Verdict

The Haunted Mansion was released after The Country Bears and Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl, and all three are based upon Disney theme park attractions.  Of course, there is no need for me to tell you which one of these films did insanely well at the box office, unless you have been living under a rock since 2003.  Unfortunately, The Haunted Mansion followed in the footsteps of The Country Bears, and did a belly flop into that ‘at capacity’ pool of Disney duds of years past.  What could have been something very creepy, very dark and very entertaining turned into a snooze-fest, dragged lifelessly through its 99 minutes by Eddie Murphy at a (pardon the pun) deadly slow speed.  Although watchable, it does beg the question of why this popular and well-loved attraction had to be degraded in a film which is in a tug-of-war over whether it wants to be scary or comedic.  In the end, neither wins out, leaving us with a confusing and shabby storyline with flat characters and drab dialogue to match.  Eddie Murphy should have been as strong of a character as Captain Jack Sparrow, carrying the story and making for very many laughs along the way, however he relies on his signature smile to steal a giggle from the audience, which hasn’t worked since the 90s.  Marsha Thomason who plays Sara Evers delivers some truly wooden acting, making the ghosts look vivacious.  Master Gracey who is played by Nathaniel Parker does not seem to have that ‘aura of foreboding’ about him that you would expect from a dead man, and therefore does not make for a very remarkable character, where he should have been exactly that.  The two most outstanding performances are by Jennifer Tilly and Terence Stamp, although they cannot carry the film along on their roles alone.

Ok so having angered all the fans of this movie, all 3 of them, I will move onto some good points, of which there are few.  As I mentioned earlier, there are many references to the attraction which the movie is based upon.  The main story of the film follows, albeit loosely, the story which runs through the Phantom Manor at Disneyland Paris, as it involves a bride and a bunch of dead folks.  I mentioned above the scene with Madame Leota, the Hitchhiking Ghosts and the decor throughout the mansion.  Haunted Mansion buffs will also welcome the sight of the singing busts, which are actually voiced by the Dapper Dans Barbershop Quartet who perform in Disneyland.  The famous ballroom scene from the ride is also shown to the audience briefly, however it is not as grand as it is in the ride.

The sets are rather beautiful, large, spacious, luxurious, yet old and musty at the same time.  I remember visiting some of the sets at Walt Disney World at one point, and they were interesting to see, however I did wonder how many visitors had actually seen the film first.

In contrast to Pirates of the Caribbean (I make this comparison since the films were made around the same time and have the same basic idea behind them), there seems to be a lot of scenes and/or characters which have been taken directly from the attraction and used in the same form, rather than using them simply as a framework to build upon.   Sadly, since the film relies upon the audience’s sense of nostalgia regarding the attraction, it severely chops down the number of viewers who will ‘get it’, and therefore again cuts down the re-watch ability of the movie.  In fact, the ride which lasts only a few minutes, holds much more charm than this film ever could.

I am reviewing this film from the DVD version, (not the Blu-ray, I wouldn’t waste my money on that) which has a few underwhelming features.  The one I headed to first was ‘Disney’s DVD Virtual Ride: The Haunted Mansion’, thinking, as you would, that it was something to do with the attraction rather than the film.  Ok so they got me to click on it, but as soon as I realised that it was a very poor tour of the mansion in the film, it was swiftly turned off.  The rest of the features include commentaries, a deleted scene, an outtakes reel, and one of those God awful music videos.  If you’re looking for information on the ride, there is a feature that allows you to see photos and learn about the history of the attraction when you put the DVD into your computer.

I think children may enjoy this film, however for anyone else; it is certainly one to miss.

I give this movie 2 Tinks.

A Side Note:  Director Guillermo Del Toro is a massive fan of the Haunted Mansion attraction, and has, at the time of writing, almost finished the screenplay for a remake of The Haunted Mansion.  Of course, from a director such as Toro, great things are expected.  Great, dark, things.  Apparently the illusive Hatbox Ghost who was a part of the Disneyland attraction for not very long after it opened will be the villain in this film, and in honesty, I cannot wait to see it!

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20,000 Leagues Under the Sea

‘I have done with society for reasons that seem good to me. Therefore, I do not obey its laws.’ – Captain Nemo

First off, I would like to state that this review was a joint effort.  Thanks Dad!  It would be silly to know a 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea fan and not utilize their wealth of information…

After Treasure Island and Robin Hood rolled out of the Disney studios in the early 1950s, another live action adventure would not be far behind them.  Though originally intended to be an animated feature, 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea (based on the novel by Jules Verne), after much storyboarding, was put into production as a live action feature.  This is the 2nd Cinemascope film ever made, took 2 years to make and wound up at $9 million.  This is one of Disney’s hidden treasures, which almost got the Disney Studio closed down, and which also apparently never made any money…

The Story

At the start of the movie, curtains go up to give the feeling of being in a theatre.  An elaborate copy of the novel appears on the screen and opens to a page that tells of a sea monster that is menacing shipping in the year 1868.  Next, a steam ship is seen sailing on a calm evening sea.  The camera pans down to show a monstrous shape surrounded by a green glow, rising from the depths of the sea and heading for the ship at a great speed.  A large explosion suggests that the ship has been destroyed.

The scene then switches to San Francisco harbour, where three of the principle characters are introduced; Ned Land (Kirk Douglas), a harpooner, immediately gets involved in a western salon-style fist fight for no logical reason.  Meanwhile, French Professor Pierre Aronnax (Paul Lukas) and his apprentice Conseil (Peter Lorre) are trying unsuccessfully to find a ship to take them home.  Approached by a government official, the French pair are persuaded to join an American warship that is setting out on an expedition to prove or (preferably) disprove the existence of the monster that is causing such havoc with the nation’s shipping.  Ned Land also joins the expedition-to hopefully kill the monster if it can be found.

Whilst in search of the monster, there are a few false alarms, such as the sightings of whales and dolphins.  They finally give up searching for the mysterious creature.  Ned celebrates in the form of song.  His singing causes a ship to blow itself up in the distance.  Well, actually, a ship just blows up, causing them to believe that something struck it, possibly the sea creature.  Sure enough, the creature’s menacing shining lights are soon seen in the distance.  We never really see much of the creature other than the very top of it and its gleaming ‘eyes’ for a good while into the film.  This adds to the mystery of what it might be.  The warship fires at the monster which attacks their ship, and unfortunately, Ned’s harpoons are no match for its tough outer shell.  The creature strikes the ship a glancing blow, causing the Professor and Conseil to go overboard, and while they are swimming, looking for safety, the monster emerges out of the mist, looking a lot less frightening without its menacing lights aglow.  Finally, realising that it is a man-made craft, they climb aboard, searching for signs of life, but to no avail.  Pierre discovers a large room in the submarine with beautiful red velvet seats, matching curtains, and a grand organ taking centre stage at the end of the room, with reflections of the sea coming in through the window and adding a mystifying characteristic to the silent submarine.

Ned is found floating along on one of the warship’s boats, and ends up joining Conseil and the Professor on the submarine.  Aronnax, fascinated by the underwater view through the saloon window, spots the submarine’s crew performing an underwater burial ceremony, complete with coral cross.  It isn’t long before the Professor and Conseil are spotted through the window by the crew, who capture them as they try to escape in Ned’s boat.  We then meet Nemo (James Mason), captain of the submarine that we now learn is called the Nautilus.

The three companions end up as guests/prisoners of Nemo’s, who by his own admission is not a civilised man.  After an eventful meal where we meet the remaining main character, Esmeralda the sea-lion, Ned’s best buddy, there is an expedition to collect food which provides an opportunity for some spectacular underwater photography.  There is also the obligatory tour of the submarine and its (apparently) atomic power plant. 

Aronnax, Ned and Conseil have different attitudes to Captain Nemo and their captivity on the Nautilus.  Ned has several confrontations with Nemo, and is desperate to escape.  Aronnax is overwhelmed by Nemo’s genius, and makes it his mission to persuade the captain to share his secrets with the rest of the world.  Nemo at first refuses, saying that such power in the wrong hands could destroy the world.  Conseil, at first, remains faithful to his professor.  Nemo gradually opens up to Aronnax, revealing some of his past.  At one point, he takes the professor ashore, to show him gangs of slaves loading nitrates into a ship-a cargo used for the manufacture of explosives.  Nemo reveals that he was once one of those slaves, before escaping and setting up a base on the island of Vulcania.  The Nautilus lies waiting for the nitrate ship to sail, and when it does, it attacks it, ramming the ship at full speed.  The ship sinks and explodes-watched by Aronnax, Ned and Conseil through the Nautilus’ window.  Aronnax is furious with Nemo, calling him a murderer and a hypocrite.  Nemo defends himself, calling himself ‘the avenger’, and saying that those on the ship were the real dealers in death.  In his mind, by preventing that cargo from reaching its destination, he has in fact saved hundreds of lives.  His actions are, in modern terms, those of a terrorist.

The Cast

It is hard to imagine anyone else but James Mason as Captain Nemo after watching this film.  He lives and breathes the role, perfectly portraying the mysterious and questionably villainous captain.  Kirk Douglas’ portrayal of the outspoken, down-to-earth Ned Land is also wonderful, providing comic-relief in an atmosphere which needs a little lightning from time to time.  Conseil as played by Peter Lorre, is the voice of reason, though torn between the beliefs of the Professor and the thoughts of Ned.  Paul Lukas portrays a perfect vision of a professor of this period of time.  He is intrigued by Nemo, and in a way they are similar through their fascination with knowledge; however the professor is much more civilized than the captain.

The Production

So 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, may not be one of the most famous Disney movies, but the Nautilus is instantly recognisable, even if you don’t know exactly what it is!  In fact, there were several different models of the submarine used for filming, including 20ft, 11ft and 6ft models, as well as a model of the fin of the Nautilus which was attached to a real submarine, for shots showing only that part of the vessel sticking out of the water.  Along with these outer elements of the submarine, a 150ft deck of the Nautilus was also made for shooting interior scenes.  A ‘squeezed’ version of the Nautilus was also created, to be filmed with a standard lens, and still be seen normally when projected in Cinemascope.  Production Designer Harper Goff designed the Nautilus, and said that it was basically a cross between an alligator and a shark, and was powered by nuclear energy, not by electricity as in the novel.  The Nautilus was furnished by Emile Kuri, who also designed Walt’s apartment at Disneyland.  The organ used in the film was bought for a mere $50, and can be found in the Haunted Mansion attraction in Disneyland, being played by a ghost!  The curved couch from the Nautilus can also be seen in the library set of the Haunted Mansion movie.

Harper Goff also designed the special diving suits which were worn by crew members when shooting underwater scenes.  They were essentially scuba diving suits, made to look like diving suits.  They had metal helmets which weighed 150lbs, and had tanks on their backs which contained enough air for 1 hour of filming.  Underwater shots were particularly difficult to shoot, especially as, when the crew all stood on the sea bed, the silt was stirred up and everything became too cloudy to film.  They got round this by putting carpet (that’s right, carpet) on the surface, preventing them from kicking up any of the floor.  Another difficulty they faced was that they were using only natural light to film, and weeks of cloudy weather put the film behind schedule.

A total of 3 lots were used for filming: Burbank, Universal and 20th Century Fox.  Of course, filming was expensive, with the original estimate at $2.7 million and the final total reaching $9 million.  It took them two years to complete the film.

The part of the film where we see Ned and Conseil trying to escape from natives on an island was shot in Jamaica, and there is a lot of footage of the crew, including Walt himself filming here.  If you look closely as the natives run towards the camera, you may see that one of them has ‘Eat at Joe’s’ written on his head…Another man’s head says ‘I ate Joe’.

Whale of a Tale is a fairly well-known song, especially in the world of Disney fans.  However, Kirk Douglas does not believe that he had a very good voice, but admits that he thought he did at the time.  Whilst this is the only song in the film, the main theme of the film is dramatic yet delicate and adventurous.

The Squid Attack


Of course, I don’t want to give the whole story away; however, one of the most famous scenes in the film is the dramatic squid attack.  This scene was undoubtedly the hardest scene for the crew to film.  There were two takes of the scene; the first take was ruined by a terribly unrealistic squid and a very calm sky, rather than a terrifying squid and a thunderous sky.  The cables which held up the tentacles kept breaking, and the crew started to see that the take wasn’t going to work.  More importantly, this scene had a lot of the film’s budget tied up, and filming it again was going to be very costly.  Everyone working on the film was gravely concerned not only for the future of the movie, but for the future of the Disney Studios, because of the vast amounts of money that were being sucked up solely on that feature.  Thankfully, the extra money was secured after financial backers were shown some shots from the film, and convinced that it would be a success at the box office.  When the second squid scene was filmed, the sky was made darker, taking place at night in a thunder-storm, which meant that the squid would be seen only in flashes of lightning.  However, this was not completely necessary, as a new 2 ton squid had been built, with longer tentacles giving the effect of snakes, as well as different methods being used to move them.  So much water was used on this scene that the entire set was flooded, pouring out into the lot, with even Mr. Disney himself having to don his wellingtons!


The Theme Parks

Disney’s Fantasmic was originally to have a 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea sequence which would include a Nautilus on one barge, a squid on another, and presumably a fight between the two!  CinéMagique in Disneyland Paris also missed out on a taste of 20k, when the clip was not included in the final cut, and was instead replaced by a clip from The Hunt for Red October.   20,000 Leagues Under the Sea also found its way into the Disney theme parks.  Walt Disney World’s Fantasyland welcomed the 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea attraction in October 1971 as a sister attraction to the Submarine Voyage in Disneyland.  This ride lasted until 1994, and is very much missed by 20k fans and Walt Disney World purists.  In Tokyo DisneySea’s Mysterious Island, which is based on the storytelling of Jules Verne, and is home to the 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea dark ride.  In Disneyland Paris’ Discoveryland, which is based on the style of science-fiction writers (Jules Verne in particular) you can find Les Mystères du Nautilus, a walkthrough attraction, allowing you to tour the Nautilus for yourself, including a glimpse of the menacing squid!  Disneyland in Anaheim also housed the sets from the film from 1955-1964.

The Verdict     

If you made it this far, well done!  20,000 Leagues Under the Sea is certainly a film that you should see a least once, as it is a Disney classic.  I am reviewing this film from the 2 disc DVD edition, which contains as much information as anyone could wish to know about the film (unless you are a die-hard fan of course!).  Let us look forward to the Blu-Ray!

I give this movie 5 Tinks.


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