20,000 Leagues Under The Sea

Back in early 2000, I broke down and got a DVD player.  The main catalyst for this was the release of 9 animated features by Disney on DVD.  Over the course of the next 4 years, I grew my collection at an astronomical rate.  One thing that I did notice was that Disney, more than any other studio, did not just want to put out a movie on DVD; it wanted to give movie lovers a true reason to upgrade from VHS.  This included taking a number of the live-action movies and giving them the “Disney” treatment.  Some (The Parent Trap, Swiss Family Robinson) were released under the banner of Vault Disney; others were released without the fancy banner, but with all of the substance.

Which brings us to 20,000 Leagues Under The Sea.

Released in 1954, Leagues was Disney’s first fully live-action feature.  Based on the novel by Jules Verne, Disney set out to release a movie like no other.  He recruited A-list stars in Kirk Douglas, Peter Lorre, and James Mason; he paid a lot for special effects that were revolutionary at the time; and he filmed many scenes underwater.  Even today, the movie is a visual treat, even with the huge, fake squid.

What amazed me more than the movie and its presentation in its original, wide-screen format was the amount of extras that Disney put on this two-disc set:

  • Audio commentaries from the director
  • 5.1 audio remastering
  • Over 10 different videos about various aspects of production
  • Theatrical trailer
  • Radio spots
  • Peter Lorre’s audio loopbacks that show the process of dialog replacement after filming
  • The Donald Duck cartoon released at the front of the movie when it was in theaters

All-in-all, it took me an extra 2-3 hours to go through all of the extra features, and it was worth every second.

My advice: this is one 2-disc set worth having in any collection and a great way to spend an evening with the whole family — I swear by my tattoo…

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