Archive for the ‘atlantis’ Category
Filed Under atlantis, dinosaurs
I hadn’t meant to go on a Jules Verne kick, but David starting spotting ads for the DVD release of Brendan Fraser’s Journey to the Center of the Earth. Ads with T-Rexes in them.
Because I am physically incapable of watching any sort of remake or adaptation without seeing the earlier versions first, I had Netflix send us the 1959 version (it’s in color, unlike the still above, by the way) starring James Mason and Pat Boone. In a few years, David probably won’t put up with those kinds of shenanigans, but for now he’s willing to watch what I order as long as the dinosaurs are there. And he’s enough of a geek that he enjoys watching various versions as much as I do.
I’ve never read the Verne novel, so I didn’t know what to expect story-wise. I guess I was hoping for something like At the Earth’s Core or a subterranean version of The Lost World, but Journey is a lot more subdued than those two.
Not that it’s a quiet or boring movie by any means. It’s just that the excitement comes from its sense of mystery and the drama between characters more than it does from giant monster attacks. I am absolutely okay with that; it’s just not what I expected.
The movie opens with Edinburgh’s celebrating the recent knighthood of one of its citizens, Professor Oliver Lindenbrook (James Mason). Lindenbrook is a geologist, so as a congratulatory gift, one of his students (Pat Boone) gives him a piece of volcanic rock he picked up in a curio shop. The rock is heavier than it should be, so Lindenbrook starts testing on it and finds hidden inside another, denser kind of rock. What’s strange is that the interior rock is only found in Iceland, while the volcanic rock comes from the Mediterranean. Chipping away at the exterior shell, Lindenbrook discovers markings on the Icelandic rock and eventually cleans it up enough to see that it’s really a stone plumb-bob.
The markings are actually writing, so Lindenbrook deciphers it and learns that it was written by a scientist named Arni Saknussem who disappeared a while back while searching for Atlantis. Lindenbrook deduces that that Saknussem discovered another world beneath ours and managed to get the plumb-bob message out before he died. If that sounds overly goofy, it’s because I’m forgetting some details. It’s all believable in the context of the film.
Lindenbrook transcribes the text on the plumb-bob and learns that it reveals the entrance to the world below. He sends it to Professor Göteborg, another famous scientist who lives in Sweden, for verification. When he doesn’t hear back from Göteborg, Lindenbrook writes again. This time he gets a response, but not from Göteborg. The University in Stockholm writes to let Lindenbrook know that Göteborg has disappeared. Lindenbrook estimates the date of Göteborg’s disappearance as being approximately when the first letter would have arrived. It’s a lot of set-up, but it goes by quickly and it’s made enjoyable by Mason’s suaveness and the sheer, boyish charm of Pat Boone.
Boone’s Alec McKuen is a good guy, but he’s not as irritatingly fresh-faced and squeaky clean as I’m imagined a Pat Boone character would be. He’s in love with Lindenbrook’s niece Jenny (played by Diane Baker, who apparently guest-starred in every single TV show made in the 1960s and now plays House’s mom) and a lot of the first act is about their relationship and whether or not unwealthy Alec will ever be in a position to propose to her. This is a 1950s movie about the 1800s, so obviously their relationship is pretty chaste, but there’s some hand-knee action that shows that Alec isn’t above trying to cop a nineteenth century feel. Also, Alec is the first one to start shedding clothes when things get bad below ground, and there’s a hilarious scene towards the end with Naked Alec, some nuns, and a sheep.
Act One is fun, but Act Two gets awesome when Lindenbrook and Alec rush off to Iceland to try to beat Göteborg to Saknussem’s secret entrance. There’s murder and betrayal as Göteborg and one of Arni Saknussem’s descendants each try to find the underworld before Lindenbrook and Alec. During all the intrigue, Lindenbrook and Alec meet a local farmer named Hans who joins their expedition, but doesn’t speak English. That necessitates their including a translator in their party, so they also bring along a woman played by Arlene Dahl.
Peter Ronson as Hans is the coolest character in the movie. I love that he speaks Icelandic the entire movie, but never comes across as anything less than intelligent and capable. It would’ve been so easy to make him a comic figure suitable only for lugging around heavy packs, but Hans is an indispensable member of the team and everyone acknowledges it the entire way through. He’s made even cooler by his love for his pet duck Gertrude whom he brings along on the expedition.
Arlene Dahl’s character is also wonderful. She’s smart, capable, and never tries to use her gender as a crutch to get her out of something. Lindenbrook needs convincing that she can carry her own weight, but she more than proves herself. She’s also, incidentally, heart-breakingly beautiful.
The only thing I didn’t like about the movie were the special effects on the dinosaurs. Putting fake back-sails on live reptiles and calling them dimetrodons is cheesy. Not that cheesy can’t be fun and cool. I appreciate it, for example, in schlock like the 1960 version of The Lost World where the whole movie is cheesy. But the rest of 1959’s Journey to the Center of the Earth doesn’t give off that vibe. It’s awesome in all other ways and it needs awesome dinosaurs too.
That factor alone makes Journey ripe for a remake or five. I can’t imagine any of the subsequent versions in my Netflix queue matching this one in terms of cast (Greg Evigan is no James Mason) or set (the 1959 underworld looks fantastic), but as long as they’re updating the dinosaurs, it would be cool to see them try to keep the mystery and drama of the plot intact. I’m not counting on it though. The ’80s version is next on my list and it’s modified the story to fit a couple of kids, their nanny, and Emo Phillips. As Verne would say, “Le sigh.”
Four out of five pet ducks.
Filed Under atlantis, captain nemo, cephalopods, cthulhu, lost city, mermaids, sigmund, submarines, swordfish
By Gedeon Maheux.
Brick Bradford in the City Beneath the Sea
By Clarence Gray.
By Lou Fine.
By Anne Acaso.
You want Thingamabobs? I’ve got twenty!
By Jess Hickman.
“The Call of Sigmund”
Filed Under atlantis, captain nemo, giant robots, submarines
I was kind of excited to see 30,000 Leagues Under the Sea until I realized it was made by The Asylum, purveyors of such fine motion-pictures as Transmorphers and Snakes on a Train. I mean, I was stoked to see a modern update of 20,000 Leagues that substitutes giant-robot squid for regular, ol’, run-of-the-mill giant squid, but I was also stoked to see a giant cobra fight a giant komodo dragon until I actually saw that movie. (In all fairness, Komodo vs. Cobra wasn’t an Asylum film, but it sure felt like one.)
So my heart sank a little when I realized that 30,000 Leagues was just another attempt by The Asylum to cash in on someone else’s popularity. (Though the last time 20,000 Leagues was anything close to popular was ten years earlier than this movie was made, so I’m scratching my head a bit over that one.) And there are problems with 30,000 Leagues. Big ones.
Let’s start off with how misleading that cover is. First of all, no one travels anywhere close to 30,000 leagues in this movie whether over or under the sea. The action sticks pretty close to a single area of the Pacific Ocean where an American sub has gone down in the Marianas Trench. Because the US doesn’t want the sub’s nuclear missiles falling into the wrong hands, they bring in Navy scientist Michael Aronnaux (Lorenzo Lamas) and his mini-sub crew to retrieve the weapons and, if possible, rescue the sailors aboard.
Because Aronnaux is our hero, he naturally bristles at the implied prioritization of US butt-covering over the salvation of human life, but he becomes especially cranky about it when the mission commander turns out to be his ex-wife Conseil (Natalie Stone, who seriously needs to play Elsa Lanchester in a biopic). There’s no updated Ned Land, which is a shame, but I guess they figured Lorenzo was man enough to serve as both him and the professor.
Instead of a reputation for knowing a lot about underwater life, 30,0000’s Aronnaux has developed a machine that converts water into air, forming self-sustaining bubbles underwater. It’s that invention that makes Aronnaux attractive to Captain Nemo (Sean Lawlor, aka William Wallace’s dad in Braveheart), and we quickly learn that it was Nemo who sank the Navy sub in order to draw Aronnaux and his invention there.
One thing I like about this version is its Nemo. He comes across as charming at first, but we soon learn that he’s clearly insane. The other inaccurate thing about the movie poster is that it implies the Nautilus looks like a giant robo-squid, but that’s not true. The Nautilus is no swift-striking attack sub in this film, but a massive, mobile, undersea city with civilians and nightclubs and whatnot aboard. It has giant robo-squid on it though and it sends them out to attack other subs. They’re nowhere near as big as that poster makes them out to be, but that doesn’t make them any less awesome.
And there’s lots of awesome in this film. Nemo’s plan is to use Aronnaux’s invention to create a giant bubble around the ruins of Atlantis, but not before Nemo first blows up the surface world with his new nuclear missiles. New Atlantis, giant robo-squid, Nemo as a madman out to destroy the world, Renegade and the Bride of Frankenstein trying to stop him… what’s not to like?
Unfortunately, this is an Asylum film and that means it was made on the cheap. Except for some stock footage of a Navy destroyer and the ocean floor, I don’t think there’s a single location shot in the whole film. Exteriors don’t match up with interiors, there’s no flow to the action, CGI shots are reused, and Nemo’s brainwashing device (no subtle storyline about Nemo’s winning over Aronnaux by mere persuasion in this movie!) looks like a reused set piece from Ghostbusters.
Yet, for all its faults, I can’t hate the movie. It’s just too much campy, awesome fun. And some of the CGI (reused though it is) is really quite good. The Nautilus looks good, Aronnaux’s mini-sub looks great, and Atlantis and the robo-squid are very, very cool.
Three out of five giant robo-squid.
Filed Under atlantis, merfolk
I had a couple of other videos and things I was going to link to today, but I ditched them. I think it’s healthier for everyone’s continued love of undersea kingdoms that we don’t get sucked into more crackpot theories about Atlantis’ actually being Haiti or the Persian Empire. It’s killing my interest in the place.
The alien outpost theories I like except that the people who espouse them are so… sincere. One of these days I’ll have to hire a serious-sounding British actress to narrate my “documentary” about the true history of Atlantis and how it’s going to rise again and attack the surface world led by its ankle-winged Avenging Son. With music by Tangerine Dream.
So, anyway… here’s some cool Atlantis art that makes me still love the Lost Continent.
I’m not sure what this is concept art for because Luca Chiarotti’s blog is all in Italian and I’m too sleepy to have Google translate it for me, but I want to read/see it, whatever it is.
Not as badly as I want to read/see whatever this is. Also by Luca Chiarotti.
Illustration by Ilya Repin from the Russian epic Sadko about a musician who’s transported to the home of the Sea King. I found it at Chris Howard’s blog, where I also learned about Howard’s novel Seaborn.
Concept art for a potential, underwater museum at the site of the sunken city (and fabled library) of Alexandria.
Transportation in Atlantis
Photo by Laura Mullen.
Filed Under atlantis, captain nemo, cephalopods, giant monsters, steampunk, submarines
Okay, last one of these for a while. Tomorrow we’ll move on to something else. Maybe something spooky.
For the sake of completeness, I watched this 1985 animated Australian version of 20,000 Leagues. Not expecting much, by the way. I had in mind that it would probably be one of those cheap knock-off videos you see at the grocery store. Not really though. I was pleasantly surprised.
There’s even a name actor in the voice cast. At least Tom Burlinson was a name actor back in the ’80s when he starred in The Man From Snowy River. He plays Ned Land here and it strikes me that the more famous Ned (Kirk Douglas) was also in Snowy River. Interesting coincidence, if it is a coincidence.
The animation, while not Disney-quality, isn’t too shabby either. At least the character designs are interesting. Nemo is kind of a fat guy, which is an interesting choice, but not invalid. I like how Aronnax and Conseil look like they come out of European comics, especially Conseil. Ned Land (a Canadian in the novel) is built like a lumberjack.
The Nautilus is a nice combination of the novel’s cigar-shaped vessel and Disney’s stylized steampunk version. There’s nothing fancy about the way people and things move in general and most of the acting is choppy, but there are some nice animation moments where boats bob and float like they should and characters move underwater like they should. The giant squid is also nicely done with tentacles that whip around dangerously.
It’s interesting that the squid fight is moved up in the story to pretty much right after Aronnax and Company board the Nautilus. The movie’s only about 50 minutes long, so the story is super compressed and that’s just about perfect. They keep the tension between Aronnax and Nemo as well as the conflict between Aronnax/Nemo and Ned. Conseil (as in the novel) pretty much agrees to whatever Aronnax wants to do. They also hit the most memorable parts of the novel like Ned’s adventure on the island, the sinking of the warship, the undersea funeral, and Atlantis, while skipping over the boring bits.
And for Atlantis, they punch it up a notch by adding giant crabs.
All in all, not shabby in the least. The opening framing sequence is too long, but it’s pretty to look at, so it’s not awful. There’s some slapstick for the kids, but most of it’s genuinely funny instead of irritating. The sound is snazzy too, especially with surround-sound. Any time the characters are on board the Nautilus there’s always background noise of clanking and humming as the ship goes about its work. It added a lot to the experience.
This would be a pretty cool introduction to the story for children. Not as cool as the Disney version, of course, but if time or attention spans are an issue (for you or for any kids in the audience), it’s an enjoyable substitute.
Four out of five giant crabs.
Filed Under atlantis, mythology
“Convoy to Atlantis”
By Robert Fuqua.
Here’s some more evidence (mostly linguistic) that Atlantis became what we now call South America.
The Atlantis Blueprint
Ancient Mysteries reviews Rand Flem-Ath and Colin Wilson’s The Atlantis Blueprint. The book suggests that humanity is much, much older than most people believe and that we’ve progressed and regressed technologically over the ages. The theory goes that Atlantis was the pinnacle of one progression and that it’s destruction sent us into a regression. Or maybe the destruction of Atlantis is just a metaphor for a technological regression that occured some other way. I can’t really tell from the review.
It’s a fascinating thought though. And even if it’s not completely original, I’m curious to see how Flem-Ath and Wilson flesh it out and support it.
Forget all that nonsense about their scattering all over the world and seeding new civilizations. Maybe they really just turned into dolphins.
Corydon and the Fall of Atlantis
The Corydon series sounds fun. The first book was called Corydon and the Island of Monsters; the second is Corydon and the Fall of Atlantis. The last in the trilogy will be Corydon and the Siege of Troy. Based on the titles – and Corydon’s being the goat-footed son of Pan – I think I need to try these out.
Countdown to New Atlantis
Underwater cities are coming. You heard it here first.
Singapore-based Atlantis Resources is developing the technology to build an undersea farm that converts tidal energy into usable power. That’s the coolest thing you’ll read for the rest of the year.
The downside is that Atlantis Resources’ CEO is named Timothy Cornelius, which is inarguably the name of a man bent on using this power to take over the surface world with his army of aquatic warriors.
At least Dr. Cornelius’ evil, undersea henchmen will be appropriately dressed once Iodice comes out with his Atlantis-inspired Spring-Summer line next year.
Why is that lady lying in the water?
Atlantis: Dubai and Bahamas outposts
If you can afford to buy yourself some Iodice Atlantiswear, you’ve likely also got what it takes to spend some time at Atlantis Dubai or Atlantis Bahamas.
Please take me with you.
As long as we’re getting hoity-toity
How ’bout checking out the Destruction of Atlantis exhibit at London’s UNION art gallery? We can swing by on our way to Dubai.
Filed Under atlantis
Every time I watch a documentary on Atlantis I see clips from the same movie. Usually it’s footage of the city being destroyed by a volcano and the waves crashing down on it. Once they included a shot of Neptune rising from the deep with his trident. TCM recently showed that movie, Atlantis: The Lost Continent, so of course I had to watch it.
Unfortunately, it doesn’t seem to be available on DVD. It’s not a great movie, but it is wonderfully cheesy. I don’t know that I’d want to watch it again, but it would be nice to have in the library to show my friends who appreciate fine cheese.
It’s the story of a young fisherman named Demetrios who one day rescues a woman who’s been stranded on a drifting raft in the sea. We never do learn why she was on that raft, but never mind. The story takes place in ancient Greece before Plato, so when the women claims to be Princess Antillia from Atlantis, Demetrios has never heard of the place. At first, he doesn’t believe her stories of a land beyond the Pillars of Hercules, but eventually she talks him into taking her home, so off they go. Along the way they meet Neptune (sort of) and a fish-shaped submarine that happens to be filled with Atlanteans. Once Antillia gets home, she’s shocked to find her father no longer in control and his right-hand man Zaren calling all the shots.
Zaren, who wants Antillia for himself, has Demetrios imprisoned with all the other sailors who’ve ever been unfortunate enough to run across Atlantis. They all work in the crystal mines now, when they’re not being transformed into animal men by Zaren’s lead scientist. Zaren, meanwhile, is developing a giant laser that he wants to use to conquer the rest of the world.
There are some big problems with the movie. I won’t go into detail on the cheesy effects because really they’re part of the charm. The biggest problem is with Antillia and Demetrios who are thoroughly unconvincing as lovers.
Antillia is arrogant and abusive when Demetrios first rescues her. She sneers at his hospitality and says that she’s untempted by the meal he prepares for her. Eventually she seems to warm up to him, until he refuses to take her beyond the Pillars into open sea. Then she threatens to cozy up to some other guy in the village who she’s sure will be happy to take her. Rather than telling her to take a hike though, Demetrios caves to the threat and says he’ll risk his life to take her home on one condition. If they don’t make it to Atlantis in a certain amount of time, Demetrios gets to turn back and Antillia has to marry him. In the business world, my friends, we call that a Lose-Lose.
Neptune is also disappointing for spoilery reasons that I won’t go into, but beyond that, Atlantis: The Lost Continent is big, dumb fun. It’s popcorn retro cinema. Sort of Planet of the Apes, but with fish-submarines, laser cannons, beast-men, and slaves chanting goofy-ass Atlantean work-songs. Also, segregated escape ships (because this was the ’60s) and an arena fight to the death between Demetrios and some guy who’s supposed to be menacing, but really looks like Dom Deluise. Also also, the Chief from Get Smart as the Atlantean High Priest. It doesn’t get any better than that.
Three out of five minotaurs.
Filed Under atlantis, sub-mariner
Yet another example of why fantasy is better than reality. After spending so much time yesterday thinking about real-world Atlantis theories, it’s nice to forget all that and just read about the cool version.
Not that Sub-Mariner: The Depths is going to be a conventional superhero story. In fact, the Sub-Mariner doesn’t even directly appear in this first issue. I’m fuzzy on when the story is supposed to take place, but I’m guessing it’s at some point between the Sub-Mariner’s Golden Age stories and his reappearance in the ’60s Fantastic Four comics. All the zeppelins moored to New York City skyscrapers in the story throw me, but a mention of a “1939 expedition” and a reference to the Red Scare suggest that it’s got to be in the late ’40s or ’50s. Probably this is some alternate timeline to the regular Marvel Universe, if you care about that kind of thing. At any rate, most of the people in this world have heard of Namor, but think he’s just a myth.
The Depths is all about an explorer named Stein who’s made a name for himself by debunking famous myths. When another explorer named Marlowe – a man suspected by the government of being a Communist – disappears while looking for Atlantis, the Navy gets worried. If Marlowe’s found Atlantis, they don’t want him turning it over to Russia, so they hire Stein to go after him. Stein’s eager to prove Atlantis (and rumors of its king, Namor) false, so he jumps at the opportunity.
The issue sets up this situation and creates tension on Stein’s submarine by revealing that most of the crew firmly believes in Namor and his undersea kingdom. There’s also talk about the Depths doing things to people’s minds. “The deeper you go,” one sailor says, “the more creatures start crawling outta the darkness.” It’s very dark and claustrophobic and scary. Much more effective than Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea, which also dealt with tension and possible mutiny on a sub.
Things finally build to a head until something attacks the submarine. Stein tries to take a look at it and can’t believe what he sees.
And that’s the one shot of the Sub-Mariner in the issue. The nice thing though is that I didn’t miss him. I certainly don’t want to read four more issues without the title character’s appearing (and I hope even more that this world’s version of the Sub-Mariner isn’t just a manifestation of the Depths working on sailors’ minds), but this first installment is a powerful, effective opening. And I tend to trust writer Peter Milligan to make sure the rest of the mini-series stays this good.
Filed Under atlantis, kull, robert e. howard
Know who else is from Atlantis whom I’d completely forgotten about?
That’s what I get for putting all my Robert E. Howard eggs in Conan’s basket. Kull: Exile of Atlantis collects all of Howard’s Kull stories and now my interest is piqued. Subterranean Press has the Limited Edition version depicted above, but I’ll make do with the paperback.
And the upcoming comic book series from Dark Horse. With covers by the unbelievably talented Andy Brase.
Kull’s usually illustrated as a Conan clone, but that, my friends, is an Atlantean king.
Filed Under atlantis
I caught an old rerun of History’s Mysteries tonight where they were talking about Atlantis. They presented a few different theories, but the first and most prominent one they pushed for was the Santorini one.
Well, most of the historians they interviewed actually pushed for the “Plato was just telling a Morality Tale” point-of-view, but they also seemed pretty excited about Santorini’s being a major influence on the creation of the myth.
What I thought was interesting was that History’s Mysteries wasn’t as quick as Mystery Hunters to dismiss Santorini on the basis that it was pretty obviously a Minoan culture before the volcano erupted. When I watched that Mystery Hunters story, I sort of scratched my head when they said that it couldn’t have been Atlantis because they found no Atlantean artifacts. What exactly – I wondered – do Atlantean artifacts look like?
History’s Mysteries‘ take is that what we call Minoan civilization may have actually been Atlantean. Which is even more fascinating because of the link between the Minoans and the Biblical Philistines (including Goliath). Plato wrote that Atlantis sunk in part because the Atlanteans had given up their peaceful, utopian ways and had become warlike. Is it possible that these warriors scattered and that one of them – a nine foot tall giant – fought and was killed by the future king of Israel?
Well, probably not, but it’s still fun to think about.
A couple of other theories History’s Mysteries explored were that Atlantis was actually Troy and that maybe it’s in the Caribbean near Bimini. They didn’t present any convincing evidence for either of those, but I understand that the Sci Fi Channel did a special on Atlantis that likes the Bimini theory, so I’ll try to track that down and watch it. The Bimini Road certainly is an odd formation.
The show also spent some time talking about Ignatius Donnelly’s fanciful Atlantis, the Antediluvian World. It was an influential piece of research even if it involved a lot more speculation and mysticism than historical data. Donnelly believed that the Atlanteans were the ancestors of all the ancient cultures including the Incas, Mayans, Aztecs, and Egyptians. You can read the whole book online.
So now I’m torn. A couple of week’s ago, I was into the idea that Atlantis became South America. Now I’m back to Santorini. I can see myself switching to Bimini with the right push.
The real problem of course is that I don’t want any of these to be true. I want Atlantis to be at the bottom of the Atlantic and inhabited by fish people. Gimme the Sub-Mariner or Aquaman’s Atlantis over Santorini and Bolivia any day.