A lot of fine artwork went into the development and filming Disney’s 20,000 LEAGUES UNDER THE SEA. Here are some few examples that hopefully you haven’t seen yet. Enjoy!
This is an artist’s concept drawing of Nemo’s base on Vulcania. The NAUTILUS is in the center of the lagoon; and just to the right, you can see what looks like a second submarine under construction.
Here is a watercolor that looks like it might have been a developmental work from which the final movie poster was made.
This is a typical storyboard drawing used to illustrate scenes. Here, we see Nemo and a crewman rowing to the facility on Vulcania, just prior to activating a time bomb that would destroy the island.
Since I’m into making functional versions of the diving gear, I especially like this picture. It’s a developmental work of what the Crew Diver Suit might look like. Obviously, the final version turned out quite differently, but if you look closely you can see a number of elements that made it into the movie: the “crown” atop the helmet; the fasteners adorning the helmet mask; the general configuration of the rifle; the perforated metal grid on the side of the air tank regulator fairing; and the pouch on his belt, (though in the movie it was on the opposite side). OK, the AQUALA drysuit was actually made from rubber and didn’t have “scales” on it; and the footwear turned out to be high-top MORSE diving boots; but this drawing shows part of the creative process through which the final suits came to be.
PETER ELLENSHAW did the amazing matte paintings used in so many scenes. Here, JAMES MASON looks on as Ellenshaw touches up his image of the inside of Vulcania crater.
Here’s another view of the base at Vulcania, also painted by Peter Ellenshaw. This one looks like it was intended as a background for surface shots inside the lagoon.
Of course, no collection of LEAGUES artwork would be complete without Peter Ellenshaw’s famous painting of VULCANIA. This picture was used as a basis for the background against which film footage of the surfaced NAUTILUS was superimposed, in the scene where the submarine arrives at the island base, which is surrounded by warships (below).
And here’s a picture that wasn’t actually part of the movie production, but it’s such a great image I thought I’d include it anyway. The artist is JOHN STEEL, and this painting was done for the 20,000 LEAGUES tie-in book made for Disney by the Whitman Publishing Company in 1954.
Obviously, the scene portrays an alternate perspective on that moment when Ned and Conseil found a chest of gold and jewels aboard the sunken galleon, and a local tiger shark was thinking he’d just found lunch!
(Image courtesy of Larry Brooks.)
Bruce Bushman of the Disney Art Department works with developmental sketches. On the table we see the original NAUTILUS concept model made by Production Designer Harper Goff.
An in-process production concept sketch of the NAUTILUS.
James Mason, in character as Captain Nemo, poses with a production sketch of the NAUTILUS.
A storyboard sketch of VULCANIA.
Another storyboard sketch: the NAUTILUS attacking the U.S. Ship ABRAHAM LINCOLN.
One more storyboard sketch: the sunken galleon, and divers from the NAUTILUS.
A rare Black-and-White rendering of the composition that became the color movie poster.
Early Storyboard Drawing of the beginning of the underwater food gathering sequence.
The document shown above is a letter of authenticity from Elmo Williams (Editor for Disney’s 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea), describing the six original production art paintings done by Harper Goff (shown below) which were once part of Mr. Williams’ private collection. Now, they offer us a rare glimpse into the mind of the creative genius that initially visualized all that we would all eventually see and enjoy.
With spotlights illuminating the way, the NAUTILUS challenges the depths.
Divers from the NAUTILUS near an underwater wreck.
Harper Goff’s original concept for the Chart Room.
Captain Nemo and others, at work in the Chart Room.
The Victorian splendor of the Salon, as refreshments are served.
The view from the Salon window.
Storm squid fight illustration.
Sunset squid fight illustration.
NAUTILUS rams a ship.
Color ramming illustration.
Disney Art Department Illustration depicting the destruction of Vulcania.
NEW! Here’s an illustration for a proposed scene that never made it into the movie.