The UK's HMS Vanguard and France's Le Triomphant nuclear submarines have collided in the Atlantic Ocean, caused by technology that is perhaps too advanced for man.

First Sea Lord Admiral Sir Jonathan Band said they were conducting routine national patrols in the Atlantic Ocean when they collided.

A theory being considered, reports The Telegraph, is that "their respective anti-sonar devices - which hide submarines - were just too effective in concealing one from the other."

In the creation of the sonar device, man has invented state-of-the-art technology that he is unable to handle, as neither submarines saw the other until it was too late.

Technology superior to man?

One wonders how timeless - and accurate - literature and film can foreshadow current and future events.

Have we reached the time in the history of fictional movies that depicted that man would fail to handle his own technological inventions?

Could it be that the science fiction film, 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, is right to suggest man's inability to handle this type of advanced technology, and precise in depicting that it would cause apprehension in the nuclear world?

The 1954 film which featured some of Hollywood's greatest actors like Kirk Douglas, James Mason and Peter Lorre was actually the first science fiction to enter the Walt Disney Pictures and be produced by Walt Disney himself.

It brought into the fore the as-yet-unanswered question: is man failing to handle his nuclear inventions?

Crtiques of the film

Critics like Steve Biodrowski have argued that the film is "far superior to the majority of genre efforts from the period or any period, with production design and technical effects that have dated hardly at all".

He notes that, though the film "may occasionally succumb to some of the problems inherent in the source material... the strengths far outweigh the weaknesses, making this one of the greatest science-fiction films ever made".

Biodrowski is actually amazed that the era in which events depicted take place "come alive in meticulous artistic accuracy, down to the beard trim of the sailors, surpassed only by the riveted steel skin of the Nautilus".

Yet the film echoes hopes and fears of audiences of the 1950s and beyond, as it equally illustrates potential dangers of nuclear power in modern time.

Verne's Timeless Influence

Before the Disney remake, French writer Jules Verne was noted as one of the first to cover the story of nuclear submarines, in his novel 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, which tells of how man is cobwebbed in his own technology.

Although there are differences in the screen adaptation, the same underlying message resonates in both mediums.

The imaginative fiction of literature and film echoes the actions of modern naval officers, who are not willing to disclose information about submarine accidents, no matter the circumstances.

In the film and in the novel, Nemo who "discovers nuclear power, which may power the submarine" is ready to keep his mouth shut even in the face of death "in order to protect his secrets beyond the grave".

There seems to be nuclear war efforts under water which go back into the world history, to resist naval superiority from their enemies.


Photo by Bo Kyung Park
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Subs: 20,000 leagues of idiocy

By: Hyde Haguta