- “...There is hope for the future. When the world is ready for a new and better life, all this will someday come to pass, in God's good time.”
- ―Nemo's final words[src]
Captain Nemo is the antiheroic deuteragonist in 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea.
Personality and Traits
Nemo has always been a mysterious character, always tending to keep to himself though he did reveal a few details of his past. He is a brilliant genius, having created the Nautilus in the middle of the 19th Century, and powered it using a nuclear reactor a century before nuclear energy was discovered.
He willingly attacks ships, but does show guilt even if the crew of the ship belonged to his enemy, "the hated nation."
This remorse is mixed with a burning hate for the fact that the nation who enslaved him previously was responsible for subjecting him to extreme torture in an attempt to learn his scientific knowledge. When he refused, his wife and son were murdered, tortured to death. This haunted Nemo, and fuels his crusade and a desire for revenge.
As Captain of the Nautilus, he maintains a very serious, no-nonsense personality amidst his crew and towards Aronnax and his companions. In his own way, he is also a brave man, personally leading his men into battle against the giant squid and risking his life to destroy it. When his island base comes under attack, he risks being shot at by enemy troops when hurrying to set the explosives that will destroy the base.
He only shows extreme emotion when in solitude, as shown prior to attacking a warship, where he indulges himself in performing on the ship's organ, only to have his playing become more dramatic and erratic.
Nemo loves the ocean and made it his home. He is content to leave the people on the surface to their own desires, at least when he is relaxed.
All his food comes from some form of sea life. He also keeps various preserved samples of various sea creatures and even has a pet sea lion, Esmeralda.
According to the original novel by Jules Verne, Nemo's past is shrouded in mystery with little revealed about his early years. In the film, the earliest known account of his life is that he was originally a slave on the penal colony of Rura Penthe. After escaping, Nemo fled with other refugees to a remote island called Vulcania, where Nemo's ingenuity and scientific knowledge were exercised, including the construction of the submersible vessel, the Nautilus.
After the Nautilus was constructed, the former prisoners became its crew, with Nemo becoming the Captain. For several months the Nautilus traveled throughout the oceans, attacking numerous ships. After one such encounter, three survivors arrived aboard the Nautilus, Professor Aronnax, Conseil, and Ned Land. Nemo quickly invited Arronax to join him and reluctantly took Conseil and Ned as prisoners. He hoped to use Arronax as an emissary in order to allow Nemo to share his secrets with the world.
The Nautilus continued its travels across the oceans. Nemo got to know Arronax better and showed him some of his past. Ned continued to irritate Nemo due to his constant attempts to escape.
Eventually, the Nautilus returned to the Island of Vulcania, only to discover it to have been invaded by soldiers because Ned had secretly released several bottles containing the location of the Island. Nemo decided to prevent the soldiers from finding his secrets and left the Nautilus to destroy the base. The attempt was successful, but as Nemo re-entered the Nautilus, he was unexpectedly shot in the back. Nemo died shortly after, gaining one last glimpse of the ocean.
Captain Nemo appears in Season 6 of the series, played by Faran Tahir. His existence in the show was established into Season Five when Henry Mills and Violet Morgan find an alternate version of the book where an illustration shows Nemo with the Nautilus, establishing his existence into the Land of Untold Stories.
Captain Nemo starred in the comic series The Adventures of Captain Nemo, which ran for 6 issues, published between 1963 and 1972. They were serialized in the Walt Disney Comics Digest and Walt Disney's World of Adventures publications in the United States.
Several record versions of 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea were made to promote the film, usually accompanied with a picture book.
In The Story of 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea from 1963, Nemo's role remained much the same as it was in the film. However, following the fight with the Giant Squid, he willingly let the Professor, Conseil, and Ned go, even allowing them to take Esmeralda (named Snoopy in this version) with them.
20,000 Leagues Under the Sea (walk-through attraction)
After the success of the original movie, Walt Disney opened an exhibit in Disneyland's Tomorrowland that lasted from 1955 to 1966; showcasing some of the actual interior sets, props and model miniatures used in filming including the submarine sets, Nautilus models, Vulcania matte paintings, the giant squid puppet and the centrepiece being the saloon room featuring the actual pipe organ Nemo played on during moments of dramatic solitude. When the exhibit was retired, most of the props went into the Walt Disney Archives while the set pieces were most likely dismantled. Three years later, Disneyland's first incarnation of The Haunted Mansion opened in 1969 and Nemo's organ was brought out of Disney's archives as a repurposed prop. It can be seen in the ghost ballroom scene where right before you move on to the attic scene at the very far end of the room is a ghoulish animatronic playing on that organ. The pipes were changed significantly as they are much taller and straight, but the overall organ is the same base that James Mason played on.
In Tokyo DisneySea's Mysterious Island, the story is set in an alternate path from the movie where Nemo didn't die, but instead has opened up to the world and allowed visitors to explore Vulcania in the name of scientific curiosity. He can be heard throughout 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea and his notes can be found in the queue of Journey to the Center of the Earth. The Nautilus is docked in the lagoon.
20,000 Leagues Under the Sea: Submarine Voyage
Captain Nemo played a significant role in the Walt Disney World attraction based on the film. While he was not actually seen, his voice would frequently be heard narrating the journey and speaking to other crew members. He welcomed guests into the Nautilus to show them the wonders of the world under the sea. In this attraction, Nemo was voiced by Pete Renaday.
Captain Nemo's disembodied voice is heard in this bar when the Nautilus drink is ordered.
- In the original Jules Verne novel, Nemo's fate is never made clear. In fact, an older Nemo actually appeared in a later novel, The Mysterious Island, where he is revealed to have survived the ending of 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea and is now the only surviving member of the crew of the Nautilus. He secretly helps a group of stranded Civil War veterans who unknowingly crash a hot air balloon at the home port of the Nautilus.
- Nemo was revealed in The Mysterious Island to be Indian. His family was killed in an uprising against the British, which explained his disdain for society.
- A few years after the Disney 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea film's release, a non-Disney film adaptation of Mysterious Island was released, transparently meant to be reminiscent of the earlier film, even quoting part of its theme song as part of its own main theme (composed by Bernard Hermann). Nemo was there played by the Swedish-born actor Herbert Lom.
- Robert Newton and Gregory Peck were both considered for the role as Captain Nemo.
- Nemo's affiliation with Jungle Cruise attractions might be a tribute to artist Harper Goff and legendary special-effects supervisor Bob Mattey who worked on both 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea. It is also somewhat ironic given Nemo's famous hatred for European colonists and imperialists with the Jungle Cruise revolving around European colonists such as Jungle Navigation Company and Society of Explorers and Adventurers who Nemo would most likely hate.
- Nemo, the titular character from Finding Nemo, and Nemo from Chip 'n Dale Rescue Rangers may have been named after Captain Nemo.
- Captain Finn from Chip 'n Dale Rescue Rangers is based on Captain Nemo.
- In the 2020 Topolino parody story "19,999 Leagues Under the Sea", Goofy plays the role of Captain Nemo.