Wednesday Quote: Independence

'Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea' by Neuville and Riou 027

“The sea doesn’t belong to tyrants. On its surface they can still exercise their iniquitous claims, battle each other, devour each other, haul every earthly horror. But thirty feet below sea level, their dominion ceases, their influence fades, their power vanishes! Ah, sir, live! Live in the heart of the seas! Here alone lies independence! Here I recognize no superiors! Here I’m free!”

A memorable scene from a science-fiction classic, Jules Verne’s Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea.  This is the excellent F. P. Walter translation, which you can find on Project Gutenberg.

That said, I actually prefer the more succinct version of this quote from the 1954 Disney movie.  James Mason’s suave, measured enunciation brings out the introspective side of Nemo here and less of the passionate (though that he demonstrates elsewhere in the film). 

“Think of it. On the surface there is hunger and fear. Men still exercise unjust laws. They fight and tear one another to pieces. But a mere few feet beneath the waves their reign ceases, their evil drowns. Here, on the ocean floor, is the only independence. Here I am free!”

As Nemo proclaims his confident autonomy, we see Professor Aronnax’s reaction through the eyes of Paul Lukas, which is both awe and a sense of solemnity, maybe even uneasiness as he has seen how the captain’s words play out in his actions.

Side note – this is my favorite movie of all time!  It’s no purist’s adaptation, but I love how Disney infused the themes, characters, and events into an imaginative script, which still manages stays true to the spirit of Verne’s original.

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About Me

Hi, I’m Marian—sharing a fondness for classics and other books here and on my YouTube channel. I’m a Christian, designer, and avid tea drinker, and my home is the beautiful Pacific Northwest, US.


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