A Few Words About A few words about...™ 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea (1916) - in Blu-ray

Robert Harris

Feb 8, 1999
Real Name
Robert Harris
Make no mistake.

The Stuart Paton directed, 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, is a huge, spectacular production for its time - late 1916. Not precisely 20,000 Leagues, it combines Jules Verne's 1870 novel with his 1874 Mysterious Island. A prolific author, 80 Days came in between the two.

This release is almost like getting two films in one. An undersea drama, along with a Civil War
balloon adventure.

The work Universal has performed to make it available is commendable, and interesting.

Exterior shots (generally) appear far better preserved than interior. No idea why.

What's most telling is that a bit over a year after Mr. Griffith's The Klansman was released at Clune's Auditorium in Los Angeles on 8 Feb 1915, 20,000 Leagues remains as old fashioned as ever.

1915-17 was a revolutionary period in film history. New concepts and inventions were coming weekly or monthly - not yearly.

But in making comparisons, notes and caveats also come into play, and those involve what precisely The Klansman was, and wasn't. And how Mr. Griffith's next giant production, Intolerance, released nineteen months later, fits into the landscape.

For all it's bravura filmmaking, The Klansman and its retitled counterpart, The Birth of a Nation were slightly different films, from an editorial perspective. It's almost as if Mr. Griffith kept moving the goalposts as fashions changed.

But regardless, the subject at hand is an interesting, and historical example of the "normal" big production in that era. Underwater cinematography by the Williamson Brothers, giant squids, an undersea burial

Kino continues to crank out these silent dramas, along with their German counterparts from the Murnau Foundation in Germany, and we owe them for their risk-taking in doing so.

Want more early silent productions, done right? Step up to the plate, and support those who distribute them to Blu-ray.

Image - 3.25

Audio - n/a

Pass / Fail - Pass

Upgrade from DVD - without a doubt!




Senior HTF Member
Jan 1, 2012
Richardson, TX
Real Name
Jose Ortiz-Marrero
I saw this during the Universal Retrospective at MoMA. That was sometime in the '70s. Can't wait to watch it again!

Forum Sponsors

Forum statistics

Latest member
Mark rrdoc