I Luvz Me Some Vynález Zkázy

a.k.a.  The Fabulous World Of Jules Vernea.k.a.  An Invention Of Destruction

I had forgotten I had burned a DVD of this from a long out of print VHS tape some years ago and, when I stumbled across it looking for something else, put it aside to show Soon-ok.

Frankly, I was a little apprehensive as to how she would like it.  We tend to watch a movie every night after dinner while waiting for the upstairs to cool off during these hot summer months.  She is often dubious of my choices.[1]

To my delight, she was delighted.  The Fabulous World Of Jules Verne is one of three films Czech animation director Karel Zeman is best known for in the US of A[2]; a charming blend of live action and every animation / special effects trick in the book circa 1960.

Unlike the Disney or Harryhausen versions of Verne, Zeman made no attempt to make The Fabulous World Of Jules Verne look realistic.  Instead he deliberately set out to emulate the stylized steel engravings of the 19th century that originally illustrated Verne's novels.[3]

You're only getting a wee sample here: The whole blessed film looks like this, every single shot!

To be frank, I actually prefer this sort of stylized, non-realistic use of special effects in films and TV.  Unlike big budget efforts to convince us of the reality of what we're viewing, a lo-budg/lo-tech approach ala Star Trek: The Original Series or Pertwee/Baker era Doctor Who asks the audience to participate in the fantasy:  Pretend this lavender backdrop and papier mache boulder is an alien world and we'll tell you an entertaining story.

It's the same sort of theatricality we expect from live stage drama, and the four-fold blessings in disguise are (a) it's inexpensive (b) it can be pushed in a much more stylized direction (c) if it doesn't work it isn't as jarring as when a bad spfx shot crops up in the latest blockbuster (d) it ages more gracefully than realistic effects that lose their realism through overexposure.[4]




[1]  With good reason, I might add.  We usually compromise by looking at comedies on Netflix.

[2] The Fabulous Baron Munchausen and Journey To The Beginning Of Time are his other two stateside hits, but he did literally dozens of features and shorts.  Journey was shown both theatrically and as a serial on local kid shows in the 1960s and early 70s.  My family moved a lot when I was growing up and one of my frustrations was that I saw every chapter save the last of Journey in three different towns -- we would move before I could finish the serial!  I finally caught it in theatrical re-release in 1972.

[3]  This film is a pastiche of several of his stories, though relying primarily on Facing The Flag.

[4]  Yes, I'm talking about you, CGI!

Memo To Pat Robertson