Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Imaginary Casting Call

At the Sci Fi convention I just went to, Jules Verne was mentioned a few times in a Steampunk panel, and there were some beautiful pieces of Verneian technology at the art show. I've actually never read 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea (although I remember watching a TV version during the '70s), and as little as I know, Captain Nemo seems of obvious interest to someone with such a strange and abiding love for cephalopods.

In the book's sequel, it's apparently made clear that Nemo came from Bundelkhand ("now divided between the states of Uttar and Madhya Pradesh," according to the Wikipedia), and developed his bitterness against civilization in the wake of the Sepoy Mutiny. And although I've always imagined him as a craggy old salt, from the way Verne actually wrote him, he's pretty handsome.

Here's his description from the first book, just after a discussion of his "prevailing qualities": self-confidence, calmness, and courage. "He was tall, had a large forehead, straight nose, a clearly cut mouth, beautiful teeth, with fine taper hands...This man was certainly the most admirable specimen I had ever met." (20,000 Leagues, Chapter VIII).

I tend to think straight noses are overrated, so I'm glossing over that. Otherwise, though, I can't help wondering who I'd like to see play a deeply embittered, morally ambiguous genius somewhere between the ages of 35 and 50. For some reason, Saif leaps to mind, maybe because I think he's overdue for another Omkara, but there are bound to be more and better contenders.

For the record, it was Naseeruddin Shah who played him in The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen movie, and whatever people think of the movie, from what I've seen, he did a fine job. Yeah, like he wouldn't.

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