February 8, 2011
Here are two different screen shots of today’s Google Doodle, an interactive journey to the depths of the ocean as viewed through a series of brass portholes (naturally spelling out the word “Google”). When you mouse over the little joy stick, you can spy a cornucopia of sea life, including: flying fish, jellyfish, a Megamouth shark, a trio of nautiluses, and the tentacles of an enormous cephalopod.
Joyeux Anniversaire Jules!
November 1, 2010
Laughing Squid is more than just a web host, it is also on the front lines of culture and art. Their tentacles touch many parts of the Internet, including Tumblr. Here is a sampling of some recent cool content from http://links.laughingsquid.com:
September 16, 2010
I apologize for the lack of posts these past weeks. We’ve been having major issues with our home WiFi network, and it is taking much longer to diagnose and fix than should be permissible in polite society.
Also, I’ve been busy fighting an uppity squid, Nemo-style.
Yeah, that’s it…
March 2, 2010
For his senior thesis in the Illustration department at the University of the Arts, Philadelphia, Jim Tierney re-designed the dust jackets of four classic Jules Verne novels, including a particularly squid-tastic cover for 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea. If these books were for sale I would totally buy them. With money!
Via Faceout Books
Visit www.jimtierneyart.com to find out more about the designer and his process, and for detailed views of these beautiful creations.
July 8, 2009
Hot on the heels of Movie Week, I find out that Disney is working on a prequel to their classic 1954 adaptation of 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea (covered previously here and here). Due to be released in 2011, and titled Captain Nemo: 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, McG (Terminator: Salvation, Charlie’s Angels) is attached to direct. And I am afraid.
Supposedly, the prequel will tell the story of how Captain Nemo goes from being an Indian prince to the brooding science pirate we all know and love. Or, in McG’s words “Where you look at the original picture [Nemo] just enters and he’s already pissed off and underwater and what we want to do is show how he got there.” McG has also stated that he wants Will Smith to play Captain Nemo.
Don’t get me wrong, I like Will Smith just fine, but why go through all the trouble of adhering to the character’s original backstory (in The Mysterious Island, Jules Verne reveals that Nemo was Prince Dakkar, son of the Raja of Bundelkhand) but not cast an Indian actor? I’m having troubling visions of a mutant mashup of the abysmal League of Extraordinary Gentleman movie and Wild Wild West.
The Hollywood Reporter reported (duh!) yesterday that the script for Captain Nemo is undergoing a major rewrite, but only time will tell if this is a good thing or not. (For the record, I’m getting all this second-hand from Meredith Woerner over at io9, THE blog for science fiction news.) I guess the odds are pretty good that there will be some kind of cephalopodian element to this movie, and, if so, I fear the odds are even better that it will end up in the Indie Squid Kid Movie Hall of Shame.
So, to cheer myself up, I’ll end with some production images from Disney’s original 20,000 Leagues movie. All of these and more can be found at Pat Regan’s wonderful www.volcaniasubmarine.com.
June 30, 2009
The career of Ray Harryhausen, the master of stop motion animation, has spanned eight decades. His memorable creations include Mighty Joe Young (1949), the cyclops form The 7th Voyage of Sinbad (1958), the warrior skeletons of Jason and the Argonauts (1963), the dinosaurs of The Valley of Gwangi (1969), and Bubo, the mechanical owl from Clash of the Titans (1981). He is also responsible for two memorable movie cephalopds.
It Came From Beneath The Sea (Columbia Pictures, 1955)
This black and white film tells the story of a rampaging giant octopus, “blasted loose from the depths of the Pacific” by a hydrogen bomb. It terrorizes Pacific shipping lanes before turning it baleful gaze on San Francisco and the Golden Gate Bridge. It takes the United States Navy, an atomic torpedo, and a whole bunch of flame throwers, but the monster is eventually destroyed. (Ooops…Spoiler Alert!)
This may very well be the largest cephalopod in movie history (with one possible exception?), but it is hard to gauge exactly how big this octopus is supposed to be. Judging by its size relative to the Golden Gate Bridge, a single arm could be almost 500 ft long, which would make it something like 30 times the size of the largest reported living octopus.
Mysterious Island (Columbia Pictures, 1961)
This adaptation of Jules Verne’s sequel to 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea features a number of Harryhausen classics: a giant crab, a Phorusrhacos (a type of prehistoric flightless bird), giant bees, and, the reason we’re here, the giant ammonite. I haven’t seen this movie in ages, but if I recall, the ammonite encounter occurs near the end of the film during an underwater salvage operation. With the island literally falling down around them, the American castaways (with the help of Captain Nemo’s men) attempt to use their hot air balloon to raise a sunken ship to the surface.
Ammonites are an extinct variety of cephalopod known for their distinctive coiled shells. They lived throughout the Mesozoic Era (251 to 65.5 million years ago) and were wiped out in the same event that ended the dinosaurs. Most are believed to have lived in the open ocean, and the largest known species (Parapuzosia seppenradensis of Late Cretaceous Germany) had a shell 6.5 feet in diameter. The movie ammonite is obviously a tad unrealistic, but that’s the whole point isn’t it?
June 29, 2009
I didn’t originally anticipate needing to spend two posts discussing Disney’s 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, but it turns out I have more to say! In fact, without the two things covered here, Indie Squid Kid probably wouldn’t exist!
Walt Disney Presents the Story of 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea (Disneyland Records, 1963)
I wouldn’t say that this record is single-handedly responsible for my life-long squid obsession, but it definitely made quite an impression on my young mind. Here we see the giant squid, hate radiating from its enormous (and oddly human) red eye, as it is about to try to crush the oncoming Nautilus in it’s mighty tentacles. The fact that things didn’t happen quite this way in the movie is completely besides the point—this cover is AWESOME.
The record is an abridged version of the movie, and it uses a different (and uncredited) voice cast. Ned Land is the narrator (instead of Arronax), and his signature sea shanty, “Whale of a Tale,” has at least one different verse than the original film. Wikipedia tells me that this record was produced in 1963 to coincide with the first theatrical re-release of the movie. Herein lies a bit of a mystery. My copy of the record is also dated 1963, but I know I got it sometime in the early 80s. Were these LPs kept in print with the original copyright date, or did my parents pick it up second-hand? (It’s in pretty good shape for a 46 year old record.)
Story records like this were the DVDs of their day. I probably only saw 20,000 Leagues a few times on TV over the years (I doubt I ever saw it in the movie theater, and my family didn’t own a VCR until the late 80s), but I knew the story backwards and forwards because of this record.
20,000 Leagues Under the Sea: Submarine Voyage
I also wanted to mention the long gone (and sorely missed) 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea submarine ride from Disney World Magic Kingdom. The ride was open from 1971 to 1994 as part of Fantasyland. It was a near-exact copy of Disneyland’s Submarine Voyage ride, except the passenger vehicles were modeled to look like the Nautilus. The ride narration was rerecorded with a Captain Nemo sound-alike, and the script was tweaked to reference events from the film. Both rides culminate with a simulated giant squid attack.
I grew up in California, and visited Disneyland a few times in the late 70s and early 80s. It should be no surprise that the Submarine Voyage was my favorite ride (the Jungle Cruise was a close second). Sadly, I never got a chance to ride the Magic Kingdom’s 20,000 Leagues ride.
Incidentally, the original Submarine Voyage ride (which was open from 1959-1998), was reborn in 2007 as the Finding Nemo Submarine Voyage. There is no longer a squid attack sequence, and that is a damn shame.
Welcome to Movie Week! Every day this week, I will profile various cephalopods that have appeared in film—both famous and obscure.
I can’t think of a better place to start than with the greatest movie cephalopod of all time—the giant squid from Disney’s landmark 1954 adaptation of Jules Verne’s 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea.
The squid appears during a climactic sequence about three-quarters of the way through the movie (1:35:42–about 95 minutes in). The Nautilus has just been ambushed by an American warship, and the damaged submarine has sunk to a depth of 5,000 feet, which, according to Captain Nemo (played by James Mason), is “deeper now than Man has ever been before.” Naturally, this seems to royally piss off a passing Architeuthis. Nemo tries to repel the squid using the Nautilus’s electrified hull (a technique which he had just successfully used to defend the sub from a tribe of vicious cannibals), but to no avail. Bringing his vessel to the surface, Nemo leads his crew into armed combat with the squid that now has the Nautilus firmly in its embrace, warning them that the giant squid is “the most tenacious of all sea beasts.” Nemo soon finds himself in the grip of a massive tentacle, his doom assured. Fortunately, Ned Land (played by Kirk Douglas) breaks out of the brig just in time to save Nemo with an expertly thrown harpoon—hitting the squid directly between the eyes (which Nemo mentioned earlier was the beast’s “only vital spot”).
The special effects in this sequence hold up surprisingly well after 55 years. The model used in the underwater scenes is quite realistic (the strange edits in the above video notwithstanding), even if some of the details are off. It even releases a cloud of ink when Nemo tries to electrocute it, which is a nice touch. Sure, the battle with the squid on the surface ratchets up the cheese factor a bit, with big, rubbery arms flailing all over the place, but in this blogger’s humble opinion, the Disney Architeuthis is more convincing overall than some recent attempts I could mention.
Disney’s version of 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea remains the definitive interpretation of the Jules Verne classic. While steampunk traces its modern literary genesis back to the late 1980s/early 1990s, I think it could be easily argued that the popular sub-genre owes much of it’s visual aesthetic to the riveted opulence of Harper Goff’s Nautilus.
Let’s face it, this IS what the Nautilus looks like. Period.