It always starts with a sore throat. I wake up in the morning and that first gulp hurts. I tell myself I’ll be fine, but usually by the end of the day I’m curled up on the couch while my sister pokes me with a broom handle. Being sick is one of those shared human experiences; as is having a favorite movie to watch while being sick. I don’t really remember having a ‘sick movie’ until my senior year of high school. I ended up with a pretty awful case of mononucleosis that kept me homebound for almost three months. In that time I found one film that consistently made me keep fighting: 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea. I watched it a lot in those three months and even now, when I’m floating away on Nyquil, I enjoy falling asleep to Captain Nemo’s rants and giant squids.
Released in 1954, Walt Disney’s interpretation of Jules Verne’s novel has become the best known film version. Starring Kirk Douglas, James Mason, and Peter Lorre, it tells the story of the embittered Captain Nemo and his quest to write the wrongs in the world. One of the best examples of what would later be known as “steam punk”, the film is well remembered for being ahead of it’s time with the technology used. It was presented in CinemaScope, which was still a new technology at the time. Many theaters were still being fitted to support the new presentation style that CinemaScope brought. In addition to a new presentation style, the underwater scenes filmed for the movie were mind blowing for the time.
Filmed down in the Bahamas and Jamaica, the underwater scenes proved to be difficult, but worth the effort. Even now, they still send a chill up my spine (that could also be the fever) and make me want to don a Victorian Era diving suit. Of course, what every one thinks of when they think of this movie is the infamous Giant Squid fight scene. Originally shot during a calm sunset, the squid fight scene was a joke. Before the time of the ability to digitally remove cables, the unforgiving sunset and calm waters showed every fake aspect of the giant squid. The filmmakers had to take a step back and figure out what to do with the scene. They had already sunk a lot of money into it and couldn’t just let it go. Walt Disney was visiting the set and saw the problems with the scene. It is said that he then came up with the solution that has made the scene the most remembered of the whole movie.
To be honest, I don’t know what made me stumble out of my bed and put the movie in the dvd player in the first place, but it just was one of those inspired moments. I would watch the movie over and over as well as the hours of special features. It has just become the movie that is engrained in my soul when I get sick. I smile when Kirk Douglas sings “A Whale of a Tale”. I’m completely enthralled when they start to fight off the impossibly giant squid. I even feel pain for Nemo when you start to learn why he is the way he is. It’s just the perfect sick movie for me. You can you try to explain why, but in the end it’s almost impossible to explain. It’s that perfect moment where you are at your lowest and something comes along and makes you happy.
So, dearest readers, let me know: what movie(s) do you just have to watch when you are sick?