The YouTube clip shows the entire 1916 film adaptation of Jules Verne’s “20,000 Leagues Under the Sea”, an undeniably ambitious project for its time. That’s perfectly in line with the novel itself, as well as the most famous cinematic version of it, the Walt Disney-produced 20000 Leagues Under the Sea (1954), a review of which I recently added to this blog.
Watching this classic Kirk Douglas adventure made me think of the fact that whenever Verne is adapted for the big screen, children always seem to be the target audience. Nothing wrong with that; I read his books when I was a kid. But for once it would be nice to see a more adult version of one of his novels.
There are plenty of Verne adaptations. Apart from 20000 Leagues Under the Sea, Oscar winner Around the World in 80 Days (1956) remains the most memorable. It has been remade several times, once with Jackie Chan and Steve Coogan in the leads. Even Pierce Brosnan played Phileas Fogg in a 1989 miniseries.
Recent films have added a meta level. Journey to the Center of the Earth (2008) and its sequel are loose adaptations of Verne novels that also frequently discuss the author and his works. A bolder, more modern touch… but still, strictly for kids.
David Fincher has expressed an interest in bringing back “20,000 Leagues Under the Sea” to the big screen. We have yet to see what happens to that likely more adult project.