The Mysterious Island (1929 film)

The Mysterious Island

original theatrical poster
Directed by Benjamin Christensen
Lucien Hubbard
Maurice Tourneur
Produced by J. Ernest Williamson
Written by Jules Verne (novel)
Lucien Hubbard
Carl Pierson
Starring Lionel Barrymore
Jacqueline Gadsden
Lloyd Hughes
Montagu Love
Harry Gribbon
Music by Martin Broones
Art Lange
Cinematography Percy Hilburn
James Basevi
Irving G. Ries
J. Ernest Williamson
Edited by Carl Pierson
Distributed by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer
Release dates
October 5, 1929 (1929-10-05)
Running time
95 minutes
93 minutes Turner Library print
67 minutes restored version
Country United States
Language English
Budget $55,000 (estimated)
Box office $1,130,000 (USA)

The Mysterious Island (1929) is a Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer film directed by Lucien Hubbard, a film adaptation of Jules Verne's novel L'Île mystérieuse (The Mysterious Island), published in 1874. It was photographed entirely in the two-strip Technicolor, and released as a Part-talkie, with talking sequences, as well as a synchronized musical score and sound effects for the silent portions.


On a volcanic island near the kingdom of Hetvia rules Count Dakkar, a benevolent leader and scientist who has eliminated class distinction among the island's inhabitants. Dakkar, his daughter Sonia and her fiance, engineer Nicolai Roget have designed a submarine which Roget pilots on its initial voyage just before the island is overrun by Baron Falon, despotic ruler of Hetvia. Falon sets out after Roget in a second submarine and the two craft, diving to the ocean's floor, discover a strange land populated by dragons, giant squid and an eerie undiscovered humanoid race.

Jane Daly (Jacqueline Gadsden) prepared for a scene in The Mysterious Island



According to an article in the original Famous Monsters of Filmland magazine, production was actually started in 1926. There were various problems, including weather and the advent of talkies, which slowed/halted production several times before the film was finally completed and released three years later. The article included stills showing the original 1926 undersea denizens and the redesigned version which actually appeared in the film. Footage shot by Maurice Tourneur and Benjamin Christensen in 1927 was incorporated into the final 1929 version.


The film is loosely based on the back-story given for Captain Nemo in the novel The Mysterious Island, and might more properly be thought of as a prequel to Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea but for the fact that the man who would be Nemo dies in this film's finale. It is the story of Count Dakkar (Captain Nemo's real name is revealed to be Prince Dakkar in The Mysterious Island), how he built his submarine, how he was betrayed, and how he became an outcast seeking revenge.


Until recently only one reel with a color sequence was thought to have survived, in the collection of the UCLA Film and Television Archive.

In 2013, Deborah Stoiber from the George Eastman House film archive visited Prague to examine the sole existing color copy of The Mysterious Island. The US film experts, in cooperation with the Czech National Film Archive, restored the color print of The Mysterious Island. After the complete Technicolor print was discovered in Prague in December 2013, a new print of the film premiered at the 33rd Pordenone Silent Film Festival in October 2014.[1]

See also


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