6 Jules Verne Movies Every Person Should Watch

Tuesday, March 13 by John Coon

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Jules Verne is often, along with H.G. Wells, considered the father of modern science fiction. Indeed, Verne envisioned such things as submarines exploring the depths of the ocean and spacecraft traveling to the moon long before modern technology made such things possible. His novels and stories have become source material for a countless number of movies, miniseries and cartoons over the past few decades. These six movie adaptations of notable Jules Verne stories offer a sampling of the good, bad and ugly in bringing those stories to the life on the big screen

1. "20,000 Leagues Under the Sea" (1954)

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Everyone who has seen this movie remembers the iconic battle with the giant squid that attacks Captain Nemo's submarine. What is lost amid that special effects laden fun is a compelling story of a professor, his assistant and a sailor taken captive aboard the Nautilus and their efforts to escape from the clutches of Nemo. This remains the only science fiction film personally produced by Walt Disney and is an early example of the steampunk genre.

2. "Around the World in 80 Days" (2004)

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There are better adaptations of Verne's most famous novel, but none of the others feature Jackie Chan as Phineas Fogg's assistant. Chan accompanies Fogg in his globe-trotting via hot-air balloon and the duo get caught in one situation after another that require Chan's mastery of martial arts to get them out of trouble and on their way. Any Chan movie that doesn't include loudmouthed Chris Tucker already has a mark in its favor.

3. "In Search of the Castaways" (1962)

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Hayley Mills gets another star vehicle after “Pollyanna” with this adaptation that centers on a teenage girl searching for her shipwrecked father. She must survive assorted perils ranging from a flood to a volcano and battle a gunrunner who is responsible for her father's disappearance. One of the better Disney family films during its golden era of the 1960s.

4. "The Light at the Edge of the World" (1971):

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This ranks as one of the few Verne adaptations that is unrelentingly dark. Kirk Douglas – who also starred in 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea – is a lighthouse keeper on an isolated island who comes under attack from a band of sadistic pirates led by Yul Brynner. What ensues is guerrilla warfare between the lighthouse keeper and the pirate leader. The film drew criticism on its initial release for graphic violence. It offers a reminder that Verne had a dark side.

5. "The Mysterious Island" (1961):

 

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The best thing going for this low-budget adaptation of Verne's story is the special effects of stop motion master Ray Harryhausen. He injects life into the production with such scenes as a battle with a giant crab and an abduction by an enormous bird. Harryhausen was a genius, so any chance to him at work is a chance that shouldn't be passed up.

6. "Journey to the Center of the Earth" (1959):

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No Jules Verne movie offers more fantastic settings than this one. A discovery of a strange volcanic rock is the catalyst for a professor and his team to undertake an underground journey in Iceland that leads them to sights ranging from a subterranean ocean and the lost city of Atlantis. Of course, there is added trouble for the exploring party in dealing with a crazed straggler who thinks they own the whole underground world because their ancestor found it first. Real estate claims can bring out the worst in people.