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Hollywood Presents Jules Verne

Hollywood Presents Jules Verne: The Father of Science Fiction on Screen

Brian Taves
Series: Screen Classics
Copyright Date: 2015
Pages: 370
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  • Book Info
    Hollywood Presents Jules Verne
    Book Description:

    Even for those who have never read Jules Verne (1828--1905), the author's very name conjures visions of the submarine inTwenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea, the epic race inAround the World in Eighty Days, the spacecraft inFrom the Earth to the Moon, and the daring descent inJourney to the Center of the Earth. One of the most widely translated authors of all time, Verne has inspired filmmakers since the early silent period and continues to fascinate audiences more than one hundred years after his works were first published. His riveting plots and vivid descriptions easily transform into compelling scripts and dramatic visual compositions.

    InHollywood Presents Jules Verne, Brian Taves investigates the indelible mark that the author has left on English-language cinema. Adaptations of Verne's tales have taken many forms -- early movie shorts, serials, feature films, miniseries, and television shows -- and have been produced as both animated and live-action films. Taves illuminates how, as these stories have been made and remade over the years, each new adaptation looks back not only to Verne's words but also to previous screen incarnations. He also examines how generations of actors have portrayed iconic characters such as Phileas Fogg and Captain Nemo, and how these figures are treated in pastiches such asJourney 2: The Mysterious Island(2012). Investigating the biggest box-office hits as well as lower-budget productions, this comprehensive study will appeal not only to fans of the writer's work but also to readers interested in the ever-changing relationship between literature, theater, and film.

    eISBN: 978-0-8131-6114-3
    Subjects: Film Studies, Language & Literature

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. [i]-[vi])
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. [vii]-[viii])
  3. Introduction: How a French Author Met Hollywood
    (pp. 1-12)

    From the outset of his career as a novelist in the 1860s, Jules Verne was an author who broke the rules. He not only defined a new genre, science fiction, but also appealed to a wide audience—readers of all ages around the world. now, going on 150 years later, his novels continue to sell in all languages as well as in condensations for children and comic books.

    In the 1870s, Verne’s stories became stage blockbusters, and they remain staples of the theater. By the beginning of the twentieth century, his tales emerged as mainstays of the screen. From trick...

  4. 1 The Silents
    (pp. 13-32)

    To early filmmakers, Jules Verne was not only a legend but also a contemporary author of international repute, and his global reputation was still at its peak. One or two new books had been published annually since 1863, and even after his death in 1905 his works continued to appear regularly, with the last original book published in 1919. Verne’s tales were already regarded as classics that appealed to every audience and geographical locale; there was scarcely a language into which his works had not been translated.

    Short films inspired by his ideas and predictions abounded in europe and America,...

  5. 2 Searching for a Popular Approach, 1925–1945
    (pp. 33-48)

    The 1916 silent filmTwenty Thousand Leagues under the Seahad been recognized during its time as a milestone for presenting an elaborate production of a Verne science fiction novel. The absurdity of many of its plot elements did not diminish audiences’ fascination when movie cameras descended beneath the waves to tell a blockbuster fictional story.¹ The interest in this camerawork as a scientific advance, culturally as well as cinematically, was evidenced by Grosset & dunlap issuing a “special submarine edition” of the novel illustrated with scenes from the movie and containing a special foreword; some copies showed a roly-poly...

  6. 3 Creating a style, 1946–1955
    (pp. 49-70)

    Jules Verne’s relation to science fiction was complex and about to become critical in Hollywood’s undertakings of his work. Even if he was not the founder of science fiction (a position usually ascribed to Mary shelley andFrankenstein,published in 1818) and did not create the tradition of fantastic literary travel, such as the trips to the moon by Baron Munchausen and Cyrano de Bergerac, Verne was certainly the first writer to popularize the genre for an ongoing series of novels. No less important is that Verne largely rejected fantasy to achieve a believability not previously attempted.

    He believed that...

  7. 4 Establishing a Mythos as the Verne Cycle Begins, 1956–1959
    (pp. 71-90)

    Walt Disney demonstrated how color, widescreen, and special effects could serve to vitalize Verne for the screen and become crucial to the popularity of such a film, providing sights that audiences had never seen before, but he also proved that adaptations needed to retain the grounding in the author’s nineteenth-century world. Even as Paramount, in adapting H. G. wells’sThe War of the Worldsfor the screen in 1953, had transplanted the time and place from turn-of-the-century england to modern-day California, such alterations did not influence Verne filmmaking. Disney’s return to the author’s own setting provided a crucial lead for...

  8. 5 The Height of the Verne Cycle, 1960–1962
    (pp. 91-126)

    Verne filmmaking was about to move beyond spectacle and entertainment for the whole family. Average filmgoers were younger, and science fiction had emerged as a successful draw that could make lower-budget filmmaking just as profitable as its more expensive counterpart. Verne became one of the names to lure this new audience, who had often learned of him through the revival in Verne publishing. The peak year was 1961, when four Hollywood Verne movies were released, as well as several imports along with television broadcasts. The apex was reached whenDaily VarietyandHollywood Reporterran separate reviews of two Verne...

  9. 6 The Cycle Changes, 1963–1971
    (pp. 127-154)

    The shift in tone of the next few years was crystallized in a note above a title.The Three Stooges Go around the World in a Dazebegan, “Acknowledgment is hereby made to Jules Verne, on whose classic,Around the World in Eighty Days,this film is based—sincere apologies, the Producers.” Rather than aiming at family filmgoers generally, Hollywood Verne adaptations began to polarize around either adults or preteens. The first Verne television series would also demonstrate animation as a viable style for bringing Verne to the screen.

    Most importantly, a certain exhaustion of the existing trend became evident...

  10. 7 Toward a New Aesthetic, 1972–1979
    (pp. 155-190)

    Verne’s ongoing renown was highlighted by two contrasting events in 1972. He received a Mardi Gras tribute, with coins and a Fat tuesday parade composed entirely of floats suggested by various novels. The first network biographical show appeared in nearly twenty years, the “Jules Verne” episode of the seriesNothing but Biographyon NBC. Roland Winters was ideally cast in the title role, and producer Frank Michelli utilized the knowledge of noted Verne translator walter James Miller. However, this show, along with the shift in audience suggested byThe Southern StarandThe Light at the Edge of the World,...

  11. 8 The Wandering Trail, 1981–1993
    (pp. 191-210)

    If the explosion of science fiction filmmaking in the wake ofStar Wars(1977) impacted Verne filmmaking, it was only in a deleterious way. Seldom would Verne productions rise above the level of mediocrity, as remakes often paled in contrast to their predecessors in the Verne cycle of the 1950s and 1960s. The various possibilities of adaptation, pastiche, and animation having been explored, further innovation was absent from the next dozen years of Verne filmmaking.

    The one exception began the 1980s, attempting a story that offered modernist opportunities; Verne had debunked his own fascination with the desert island myth by...

  12. 9 The Revival, 1993–1996
    (pp. 211-224)

    Even as an overall decline in the quality of Hollywood’s Verne filmmaking began in the 1980s, a renaissance in scholarship had been gaining momentum. The 150th anniversary of Verne’s birth in 1828 led to such original biographies as Peter Costello’sJules Verne: Inventor of Science Fiction(1978) and Peter Haining’s lavishly illustratedThe Jules Verne Companion(1979), both building on the translation of the second familial biography by grandson Jean Jules-Verne in 1976 and the 1972 translation of Jean Chesneaux’sThe Political and Social Ideas of Jules Verne.A bibliography of english-language Verne criticism published by G. K. Hall in...

  13. 10 Telefilms and Miniseries Reign, 1997–1999
    (pp. 225-248)

    Although in 1995 the animated seriesSpace Strikersand the live-action seriesMysterious Islandoffered largely new conceptions of Captain nemo,Twenty Thousand Leagues under the Seaswas about to appear in several major live-action television films and miniseries. The time was ripe; of all Verne’s books, none had so received repeated literary validation in translation. since the walt disney film in 1954, three massmarket paperbacks had appeared and remained in print: translations in 1962 by Anthony Bonner, in 1965 by walter James Miller, and in 1969 by Miller’s new york university colleague Mendor T. Brunetti. Miller’s annotated trade edition...

  14. 11 Biography or Pastiche, 2000–2003
    (pp. 249-262)

    Even as the canon of Jules Verne stories adapted for the screen diminished to retellings ofTwenty Thousand Leagues under the Seas, Journey to the Center of the Earth,andAround the World in Eighty Days,Hollywood would build on the growing number of pastiches involving Verne’s literary characters. InReturn to the Center of the Earth(1999), Rick wakeman’s rock opera and album followed his similar musical treatment of the original novel a quarter-century earlier, but in a modern version that retained fidelity to the author’s conception of the journey.¹ Sequels to Verne tales appeared in the 2005 anthology...

  15. 12 Dismal Reiterations, 2004–2008
    (pp. 263-276)

    Despite the achievements in developing new ways to present Vernian ideas, from pastiche to television, in both adult and children’s versions of his novels and plays, an astonishing slide was about to occur early in the twenty-first century. From documentary to telefilm to big-budget theatrical adaptation, the urge to remake according to the latest notions led to a quick succession of weak rehashes.

    Of Verne’s most famous novels, from its first translationAround the World in Eighty Dayshad been the least problematic in English. BothJourney to the Center of the EarthandTwenty Thousand Leagues under the Seas...

  16. 13 A New Formulation, 2008–Present
    (pp. 277-298)

    By the end of the first decade of the twenty-first century, two conflicting trends were apparent. Along with the renewed scholarship and the appearance of some titles for the first time in english, many lesserknown Verne books were also translated anew.¹ For all the progress, however, a fresh peril emerged, threatening to extend indefinitely the life of the worst nineteenth-century Verne translators: public-domain texts from such Internet sources as Project Gutenberg could be reissued with minimal investment, and so the market was flooded.²

    Both of these approaches would resonate on the screen. For every film having any originality, there was...

  17. Epilogue
    (pp. 299-302)

    The elements of pastiche and homage to the author in theJourney3D series were the result of the widespread availability of Verne to smallscreen viewers. narratives could be integrated in fresh ways, and newly published stories that appeared in english for the first time could be tapped into. so, too, novels retranslated, often complete for the first time in english, would inspire filmmakers from the 1997 telefilm and miniseries ofTwenty Thousand Leagues under the Seasto the 2005 version ofThe Mysterious Island.In 1914, Verne films had been affected by their stage versions; in the 1970s animated...

  18. Acknowledgments
    (pp. 303-306)
  19. Notes
    (pp. 307-336)
  20. Selected Bibliography
    (pp. 337-344)
  21. Index
    (pp. 345-358)
  22. Back Matter
    (pp. 359-362)