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When writing the script for Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea, David Benedict and Brad Strickland had two major problems to overcome. The first was compressing a novel-length work of genius by Jules Verne into an hour time slot. That was solved through vicious editing.
The second problem? There are no women in Verne’s tale of the sea and ARTC has been blessed with a number of extremely talented actresses. It would have been a crime to leave them out entirely. So, artistic liberty was applied. First, it was decided that Conseil, Professor Arronax’s faithful companion, would be a woman. Second, a new female member of the crew would be introduced.
Captain Nemo’s crew is not mentioned heavily by name in the original work. They are clearly vital to Nemo’s voyage under the sea, and he values them greatly. No, he reveres them. But precious few individuals are named. This gave Strickland and Benedict an opportunity to introduce audiences to one, who just happened to be a woman, and also to allow the audience an opportunity to track the progress of the Nautilus as Navigator Aznar announces the submarine’s position at the beginning of many scenes.
One thing that was very important, however, was that Aznar not be relegated to the “love interest” of the play. The only love interest that is present in the script, as well as the original novel, is Nemo’s love of the sea – of its beauty and what it can provide if it is respected.