The only real mystery about this film is why it isn’t better known here in the US.
Here we have this sprightly and very clever family film, made with an incredible inventiveness and attention to detail. So why didn’t anyone take a chance on it and give it a wide release?
Strange, very strange. I just hope it wasn’t because it is in black and white.
Karel Zeman made a series of fascinating fantasy and SF films of which this is probably the best. It combines virtually every form of animation ever invented with live action, and deliberately apes the look of the steel engravings (by Gustave Dore and others) that illustrated Jules Verne’s books when they first appeared. Based on a lesser-known Jules Verne’s novel, Facing the Flag, it has everything you could possibly want for at least three Jules Verne movies – a mad scientist, a secret island base in a volcano, wild inventions, a diver on a bicycle, and, of course, lots and lots of submarines.
Jules Verne has rarely been done so well – or with so much visual imagination.
One just wishes we could make more films like this.
(better version available here)