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32 Days of Halloween XIV, Day 9: 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea!

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Next up, a short film version of Saki’s story, The Open Window, from 1972. You might remember this, since we did an audio version of the story twelve years ago. Bloody hell.

For tonight’s main attraction, it’s the 1916 black and white, silent film version of Jules Verne’s Twenty-Thousand Leagues Under the Sea. This is a notable piece of cinema for multiple reasons. First, it’s the first film adaptation of the novel. It’s also the first movie to be filmed underwater, although as Wikipedia tells us (and it’s always right), the cameras weren’t submerged, they used a system of tubes and mirrors to record reflected images.

It’s also notable because Captain Nemo, who was revealed in the books to be an Indian named Prince Dakkar, is played by a white dude in ridiculous-looking brownface. The white dude in question is Allen Holubar, an American actor.

This promo image honestly looks like something close to Santa Claus Conquers the Martians.

I’m curious to know: how many people would have noticed if they had just decided that Nemo was American? Or European, as most adaptations have done. (Indeed, I think the first actual Indian actor to play the part was Naseeruddin Shah in the unfortunate film version of The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen.) They just…don’t strike me as sticklers for adhering to the source material back in 1916. Just a weird choice. Anyways, here’s the film. Enjoy.