The Fabulous World of Jules Verne is a science fiction film Czech 1958 directed by Karel Zeman, which combines live action and stop motion animation. The film is based on several novels by Jules Verne, including “From the Earth to the Moon”, “Twenty-five Days in a Balloon” and “The Mysterious Island”.
The plot of the film follows the story of three men, Professor Roche, his assistant Jacques and a gangster named Simon, who build a spherical balloon that will take them to the moon. Along their journey, the three protagonists encounter various adventures and obstacles, including an attack by air pirates and a shipwreck on a mysterious island.
The film is known for its innovative use of special effects, including stop motion animation representing fantastic creatures such as pterodactyls and sea monsters. Director Karel Zeman created a unique visual style for the film inspired by the illustrations of Jules Verne and other Victorian era artists.
“The Fabulous World of Jules Verne” is considered one of the masterpieces of Czech cinema and one of the best science fiction films of the 1950s. The film influenced many later science fiction directors, including Terry Gilliam, who described the film as “a work of visual art extraordinary”.
The plot of the film follows the story of three men, Professor Roche, his assistant Jacques and a gangster named Simon, who decide to build a spherical balloon that can take them to the moon. After many difficulties and obstacles, the three manage to get their balloon to take off and start an incredible journey through the sky.
During their journey, they encounter various adventures and obstacles, including an air pirate attack that forces them to make an emergency landing on a mysterious island. There, they discover that the island is inhabited by prehistoric animals such as pterodactyls and sea monsters.
After managing to escape from the island, the three men finally manage to reach the Moon. Once there, they discover an extraordinary world populated by bizarre creatures and full of scientific wonders. However, their stay on the Moon is short-lived, as they must return to Earth before their oxygen runs out.
Here are the main characters of the film “The Fabulous World of Jules Verne”:
Professor Roche: is an eccentric French scientist who has the idea of building a spherical balloon to travel to the Moon. He is a somewhat distracted but very intelligent character.
Jacques: he is Professor Roche’s assistant. He is a brilliant young scientist who helps Professor Roche in the construction of the spherical balloon.
Simon: is a gangster who joins the expedition to the Moon to try to steal a treasure hidden on the lunar surface. He is a cunning and determined character, but in the end he will prove to be a valuable ally for Professor Roche and Jacques.
Captain Nemo: Appears briefly in the film as a character who helps the protagonists deal with a giant wave.
Air pirates: they are a group of criminals who attack the spherical balloon of the protagonists during their journey.
Fantastic Creatures: During their journey, the protagonists encounter various fantastic creatures, such as pterodactyls, sea monsters, and alien creatures on the Moon.
Other minor characters: There are other minor characters in the film, such as the inhabitants of the mysterious island and the crew members of a fleet of flying ships that attack the protagonists.
The film “The Fabulous World of Jules Vernewas produced by Czech production company Ceskoslovenský Státní Film, and was directed by Karel Zeman, who also wrote the screenplay together with Jirí Brdecka.
The film was produced using a mixed technique of live action and stop motion animation, a technique that Karel Zeman had already used in his other films. Stop motion was used to depict fantastic creatures and other scenes where the use of traditional special effects would have been too expensive or impossible to pull off.
Director Karel Zeman created a unique visual style for the film inspired by the illustrations of Jules Verne and other Victorian era artists. He also used compositing techniques to create complex images from different elements, such as the image of the spherical balloon flying in the sky.
The film was shot in several locations in Czechoslovakia, including Prague, Kutná Hora and Karlštejn. The film’s soundtrack was composed by Zdenek Liska, who created a magical and adventurous atmosphere with his music.
“The Fabulous World of Jules Verne” was released in Czechoslovakian cinemas in 1958 and was a great success with audiences and critics. The film was then released in many other countries, including the Soviet Union, East Germany and France, where it had a great impact on popular culture.
Distribution and Reception
“The Fabulous World of Jules Verne” was released in Czechoslovakian cinemas in 1958. The film achieved great success with audiences and critics at home, thanks to its innovative animation technique and its adventurous science fiction plot.
The film was also released in many other countries where it had a great impact on popular culture and inspired many directors and animators. For example, US director Tim Burton quoted “The Fabulous World of Jules Verne” as one of his inspirations for the film “Corpse Bride”.
The film also won several international awards, including the Special Jury Prize at the Brussels International Fantastic Film Festival in 1958 and the Grand Prix at the Venice International Film Festival in 1960.
Today, “The Fabulous World of Jules Verne” is considered a classic of animation and science fiction cinema, and is often cited as one of the most important films in the history of Czech cinema and world animation. The film was restored and digitized in the 2000s to preserve its historical significance and cultural.
The style of the film “The Fabulous World of Jules Verne” is unique and innovative, and has influenced many subsequent directors and animators. Director Karel Zeman used a combination of animation techniques, special effects and live action to create a fantastic and adventurous world.
The film uses the stop-motion technique to depict fantastic creatures and other scenes that would have been too expensive or impossible to achieve with traditional special effects. Furthermore, Zeman used the technique of compositing to create complex images from different elements, such as the image of the spherical balloon flying in the sky.
The visual style of the film is inspired by the illustrations of Jules Verne and other artists of the Victorian era, creating a magical and suggestive atmosphere. Additionally, the film uses black and white photography with some colorful elements, such as fire and blood, to create a contrasting effect.
The film’s soundtrack, composed by Zdenek Liska, is also a key element of the film’s style. The music creates an adventurous and mysterious atmosphere, and uses instruments such as the theremin to add a touch of sci-fi.
Overall, the style of “The Fabulous World of Jules Verne” is unique and innovative, creating an immersive and engaging visual and sound experience for audiences.
Karel Zeman, born in 1910 in Ostroměř, Bohemia, was a Czech director and animator. He is considered one of the pioneers of animation and special effects in cinema, and one of the most important directors in the history of Czech cinema.
Zeman began his film career as a draftsman and production designer. In 1943 he directed his first film, “Vesnicko má středisková”, a comedy that achieved great success with audiences and critics.
In the 1950s, Zeman began experimenting with stop-motion techniques and special effects, creating a new visual style that influenced many subsequent directors. His most famous film, “The Fabulous World of Jules Verne”, was an international success and inspired many directors and animators around the world.
Zeman continued to work in cinema until his death in 1989, directing films such as ‘Ukradená vzducholod’ and ‘Jules Verne’s Rocket to the Moon’. His influence on Czech and world cinema has been enormous, and many directors and animators cite him as an inspiration for their work.