Atlantis - The lost empire

Atlantis - The lost empire

Atlantis: The Lost Empire, a jewel produced by Walt Disney Feature Animation in 2001, is a film that winds between fantasy and reality, mixing adventure and scientific discoveries. Forget the typical Disney animated musicals: here we immerse ourselves in a heart-pounding adventure, between science and lost mythologies, directed by the masters Gary Trousdale and Kirk Wise.

Setting and Development

Set in 1914, the film takes us through the streets of Washington, before immersing us in the underwater mysteries of the legendary city of Atlantis. The story follows young linguist Milo Thatch, who finds himself in possession of a sacred book believed to be the key to finding the lost city. With the help of a crew of mercenaries, Milo sets out in search of this mysterious sunken empire.

The idea for the film was born after the production of The Hunchback of Notre Dame in 1996, but instead of creating another musical, directors Trousdale and Wise decided to make an adventure film, inspired by the works of Jules Verne and the story of Atlantis as told by Plato, intertwining fantastic and fictional elements.

Characteristics and Artistic Style

Atlantis stands out for its unique and unmistakable artistic style, adopting the distinctive techniques of cartoonist Mike Mignola. The film makes extensive use of computer-generated imagery, more than any of Disney's other traditional animated films, and remains one of the few animated films to have been shot in anamorphic format on 70mm film, a rare occurrence since Taron and the Magic Pot from 1985. Marc Okrand, known for creating the Klingon language in Star Trek, specifically developed an Atlantean language and alphabet for the film.

Cast and Music

The voice cast boasts names of the caliber of Michael J. Fox, James Garner, Leonard Nimoy, among others, giving the film a unique and distinctive tone. The soundtrack, composed by James Newton Howard, enriches the adventurous and mysterious atmosphere, underlining every moment of tension and discovery.

Hospitality and Heritage

The film, with a budget of around $90-120 million, did not achieve the desired success at the box office, grossing only $84 million in North America and $186 million worldwide, partly due to competition from films like Shrek and Lara Croft: Tomb Raider. However, despite its initial lukewarm reception, over time Atlantis: The Lost Empire has acquired a cult following and a critical reappraisal as an unsung classic.

The film had a direct-to-video sequel, Atlantis: Milo Returns in 2003, which was originally intended to be part of an animated television series, Team Atlantis, which was never completed due to the film's lack of success. Reviews of the film have been mixed, but its rating has improved over the years, thanks in part to Mignola's unique artistic influence.

In conclusion, Atlantis: The Lost Empire represents a bold departure from the traditional Disney formula, offering a fresh and compelling take on ancient myths and underwater adventures, and remains an undiscovered gem in the animation landscape.

The story of Atlantis – the lost empire

In the year 6.800 BC, a mammoth explosion generates a megatsunami directed towards the legendary city of Atlantis, an ancient civilization shrouded in an impenetrable mystery, where advanced technologies such as electric current were already known. In order to protect the city from this impending catastrophe, the Queen of Atlantis combines with a floating crystal, creating a force field around the center of the city. Nonetheless, the rest of the empire is defeated by the unexpected fury of the waters.

We now advance to 1914, where we meet Milo Thatch, a young linguist and cartographer in the employ of the Smithsonian Research Institute. Milo's dream is to find the lost city of Atlantis, but his ideas do not find consensus among his colleagues, relegating him to simple maintenance tasks. Milo, thanks to the help of the eccentric billionaire Preston B. Whitmore and a mysterious woman, Helga Sinclair, finally has the opportunity to join an expedition to search for Atlantis, hoping to shed light on the secrets that the city hides.

The expedition, led by commander Lyle Rourke, is made up of unique and disparate characters: from the explosives expert, Vincenzo Santorini, to the geologist Gaetan Molière, to the chief mechanic Audrey Ramirez. During the journey, however, the crew collides with a mechanical leviathan, which protects the entrance to Atlantis, suffering heavy losses.

Finally arriving in the legendary city, the group is welcomed by Princess Kida, an Atlantean still young after millennia, due to the longevity given to her by the crystal. Kida, despite the wishes of her father, King Kashekim Nedakh, hopes that Milo can help her people recover their history and culture that have been lost for centuries.

Milo and Kida's exploration reveals the existence of the "Heart of Atlantis", a towering crystal, a source of power and life for the city. Milo also discovers the true intentions of Rourke and his team: they wish to seize the crystal to sell it to the highest bidder, compromising the survival of the city and its inhabitants. Rourke fatally wounds the king, managing to find and capture the Heart, which fuses with Princess Kida.

With the crystal in his possession, Rourke, intent on fleeing, betrays his allies and destroys every escape route. Milo, with the help of the remaining expedition members and the Atlanteans, tries to stop Rourke and recover the crystal before it's too late. With Rourke's evil plans and the true nature of the crystal revealed, Milo and his new friends band together in a desperate attempt to save the city of Atlantis and its priceless legacy.

This enchanting tale, where the old meets the new, is a mosaic of adventure and discovery, painted with colorful characters and breathtaking landscapes. A story that explores duty, love, tradition and respect for the past, “Atlantis: The Lost Empire” offers a fascinating journey into the heart of a lost world.

Characters from Atlantis: The Lost Empire

Milo James Thatch he is our charming protagonist, a thin, bespectacled and awkward young man. However, behind his apparent clumsiness lies an extraordinarily honest, courageous and knowledgeable individual. He works as a boiler operator, but he is a true polymath: philosopher, archaeologist, linguist, cartographer and plumber. His ability to play the Atlantean, even with a “rough and provincial” accent, is astonishing. Milo grows over the course of the film, developing deep feelings for Princess Kida and becoming the twelfth king of Atlantis.

Commander Lyle Tiberius Rourke, on the contrary, is the main antagonist. At the beginning he seems like an honest individual, but in the end he reveals his true nature: greedy, cynical and ruthless, ready to sell the Heart of Atlantis in order to obtain riches. He is a complex character with a dark military past, which includes investigations for excessive use of violence. His selfish and cruel actions lead him to an inevitable fate.

Lieutenant Helga Katrina Sinclair she is the secondary antagonist, athletic and charming, but also sarcastic. Although she is frightened by the crystal's power, she remains loyal to Rourke until the end. She is well versed in combat and military tactics, coming from a military family.

Dr. Joshua Strongbear Sweet he is the expedition's doctor, a bold but caring individual. His optimistic confidence in his abilities immediately makes him Milo's friend. He is also a foodie, except when it comes to fish.

Audrey Rocho Ramirez she is the chief mechanic of the expedition, with a strong personality. She is initially skeptical about Milo, but eventually learns to appreciate him. Her aspiration is to open her own mechanical workshop.

Gaetan Moliere he is the geologist, known for his rudeness and his obsession with the earth. Despite his strangeness, he demonstrates competence in his field and bonds with the other crew members.

Vincenzo “Vinny” Santorini he is the expert in demolitions and explosives, with a past as a florist. He is direct and pragmatic, always carrying explosives with him.

Wilhelmina Bertha Packard she is the elderly telegrapher, apathetic and pessimistic, but who ultimately joins the rebellion against Rourke.

Jebidiah Allerdyce “Cookie” Farnsworth he is the expedition's cook, although his culinary skills leave much to be desired. His "menu" is anything but gourmet.

As for the Atlanteans, the princess Kidagakash “Kida” Nedakh she is a young Atlantean woman full of spirit and agility, determined to save her declining culture. King Kashekim Nedakh, his father, is the king of Atlantis killed by Rourke. Preston B. Whitmore is the expedition's financier and longtime friend of Milo's family, while Thaddeus George Thatch was Milo's mentor and grandfather, as well as an idealistic explorer.

Each of these characters contributes uniquely to the engaging story of Atlantis, capturing the audience's attention with their diversity and complexity.

Data Sheet

  • Original title: Atlantis: The Lost Empire
  • Original language: English
  • Country of production: United States of America
  • Year: 2001
  • Duration: 95 minutes
  • Aspect ratio: 2,35: 1
  • Genre: Animation, Action, Science Fiction, Adventure
  • Director: Gary Trousdale, Kirk Wise
  • Story: Based on Greek legend, inspired by the novels of Jules Verne. Story written by Kirk Wise, Gary Trousdale, Joss Whedon, Bryce Zabel, Jackie Zabel, Tab Murphy.
  • Screenplay: Tab Murphy
  • Producer: Don Hahn
  • Production company: Walt Disney Pictures, Walt Disney Feature Animation
  • Distribution in Italian: Buena Vista International Italia
  • Editing: Ellen Keneshea
  • Special Effects: Marlon West, Kiran Bhakta Joshi
  • Music: James Newton Howard
  • Production Design: Mike Mignola, Matt Codd, Ricardo F. Delgado, Jim Martin
  • Storyboards: Kevin Harkey, Chris Ure, Todd Kurosawa, Kelly Wightman, Dean DeBlois
  • Art director: David Goetz
  • Character design: Jean Gillmore, Lisa Keene, Michael Cedeno, Robh Ruppel, Rick Maki, Anne Marie Bardwell, Marcelo Vignali, Matsune Suzuki
  • Animators: John Pomeroy, Michael Surrey, Randy Haycock, Russ Edmonds, Ron Husband, Yoshimichi Tamura, Anna Marie Bardwell, David Pruiksma, Shawn Keller, Anthony DeRosa, Michael Cedeno, Mike 'Moe' Merell
  • Wallpapers: Lisa Keene

Original voice actors:

  • Michael J. Fox: Milo James Thatch
  • James Garner: Commander Lyle Tiberius Rourke
  • Cree Summer: Kida
  • Don Novello: Vincenzo “Vinny” Santorini
  • Phil Morris: Doctor Joshua Strongbear Sweet
  • Corey Burton: Gaetan “Mole” Molière
  • Claudia Christian: Lieutenant Helga Sinclair
  • Jacqueline Obradors: Audrey Rocio Ramirez
  • Florence Stanley: Mrs. Wilhelmina Bertha Packard
  • David Ogden Stiers: Mr. Fenton Quincy Harcourt
  • John Mahoney: Preston B. Whitmore
  • Jim Varney: Jebidiah Allerdyce “Cookie” Farnsworth
  • Leonard Nimoy: King Kashekim Nedakh

Italian voice actors:

  • Massimiliano Manfredi: Milo James Thatch
  • Michele Kalamera: Commander Lyle Tiberius Rourke
  • Stella Musy: Kida
  • Pasquale Anselmo: Vincenzo “Vinny” Santorini
  • Alessandro Rossi: Doctor Joshua Strongbear Dolce
  • Claudio Bisio: Gaetan “Mole” Molière
  • Cinzia De Carolis: Lieutenant Helga Katrina Sinclair
  • Marjo Berasategui as Audrey Rocio Ramirez
  • Franca Valeri: Mrs. Wilhelmina Bertha Packard
  • Paolo Lombardi: Mr. Fenton Quincy Harcourt
  • Enzo Garinei: Preston B. Whitmore
  • Ettore Conti: Jebidiah Allerdyce “Cookie” Farnsworth
  • Gianni Musy: King Kashekim Nedakh