“We may brave human laws, but we cannot resist natural ones”*…
The very first motion picture filmed underwater, 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea is a 1916 silent film adaptation of Jules Verne’s novel of the same name, as well as incorporating elements from his The Mysterious Island. Directed by Stuart Paton, the underwater scenes were not actually filmed using underwater cameras but rather a system of watertight tubes and mirrors which allowed the camera to shoot reflected images of underwater scenes staged in shallow sunlit waters. Made by The Universal Film Manufacturing Company (now Universal Pictures), not then known as a major motion picture studio, it was incredibly expensive to produce and, according Hal Erickson [bio here], put “the kibosh on any subsequent Verne adaptations for the next 12 years”…
* Jules Verne, 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea
As we dive, dive, dive, we might recall that it was on this date in 1963 that Peter, Paul, and Mary released their third single, “Puff, The Magic Dragon.” Their most successful release to date, it reached No. 2 on the US singles chart. (And in a poignant reminder of how unifying a cultural force pop radio was in those days, this softest of soft folk tunes also made the top 10 on the R&B charts.)
The music was written by Peter (Yarrow), to lyrics by a 19-year-old Cornell student, Leonard Lipton, a friend of Yarrow’s housemate at the time. Lipton, visiting when Yarrow was away, had typed the poem on Yarrow’s typewriter and left a copy behind by accident. Yarrow searched for Lipton in order to share the songwriting credit, and found him (serving as a camp counselor). Lipton, who went on to great success as a filmmaker and inventor of stereo-optic and 3D film techniques, still receives royalties on the song.
Beyond its appreciable success, the tune is noteworthy as the song that ushered in the age of veiled (or not so veiled) drug references in pop music… though Yarrow always insisted that it’s about the passage of time and the loss of childhood innocence. More at MusicFilmWeb… or readers can judge for themselves: