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Steampunk Saturday

Hello everyone, sorry for the general lack of anything around these parts lately…

I have our first Progress City television alert today…

Nautilus at dusk

This weekend Turner Classic Movies is showing two Disney films back to back – The Black Hole at 2:30 PM EST and 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea at 4:15 PM EST. 20,000 Leagues is a well known classic Disney adventure, and while The Black Hole comes from a later and far more troubled era in Disney corporate history, it’s still worth a look. Both films contain work from Disney design legends; Harper Goff was a key member of Walt’s design staff and was responsible for creating Captain Nemo’s Nautilus while Imagineer George McGinnis worked on the robot character design for The Black Hole. Matte artist extraordinaire Peter Ellenshaw contributed to both films, providing the fantastic production design for The Black Hole.

USS Cygnus

The films are thematically similar, with The Black Hole essentially a combination of 20,000 Leagues and Heart of Darkness with a dash of 2001 for flavor. 20,000 Leagues, based on Jules Verne’s book, is a classic of Victorian science fiction and spiritual forefather of the steampunk movement. The Black Hole combines the feel of Verne with the aesthetic of Star Wars; the film’s U.S.S. Cygnus is essentially a spaceborne Victorian Crystal Palace.

So pop some poppin’ corn and spend your Saturday afternoon with these two Disney sci-fi works. 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea features a fantastic cast (James Mason and Kirk Douglas devouring the screen together) and visual work that must have been astounding in 1954 as it remains impressive today. The Black Hole also sports a worthy cast – and Roddy McDowell as a robot – and despite its problems with story, character and thematic inconsistency, it remains an interesting piece of work. Besides, Maximillian the robot horrified me as a child and remains an sadly overlooked member of Disney’s villainous pantheon.


Check them out…

Update: Jim Fanning points out on his blog something that I hate that I didn’t think to discuss – the fact that these uncut, letterboxed films are being shown commercial free on TCM, not the Disney Channel. TCM has actually been showing a lot of classic Disney live-action films recently; need I point out that the Disney Channel hasn’t been showing anything actually Disney at all?

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