Atlantis: The Lost Empire

Atlantis: The Lost Empire, directed by Gary Trousdale and Kirk Wise, is yet another Disney cartoon story for kids, with fantastic beauty and a simple story, though the plot is aimed at teenagers more than toddlers. When the film begins, a quote from Plato alludes to the fabled existence of a superior civilization, Atlantis, that was submerged and lost in a day. The hero, Milo James Thatch (voiced by Michael J. Fox), is a nerdy but brainy museum employee who resembles Bill Gates. It seems that Milo’s grandfather found a journal that tells of the location of Atlantis, but in the Atlantan language. Milo, a linguist, has translated the journal and thereby formulated a theory about where the lost continent is located and how to get there. Accordingly, Preston B. Whitmore (voiced by John Mahoney), a philanthropist, secures funds for his project, and Milo goes with a captain, crew, and ship for the journey in 1914. However, Commander Lyle Tiberius Rourke (voiced by James Garner), a retired military officer, has an agenda of his own—“adventure capitalism,” that is, to plunder Atlantis of its treasures. When they arrive at Atlantis, dying Kashekim Nedakh, king of Atlantis (voiced by Leonard Nimoy), receives the visitors in a court that resembles the outdoor swimming pool at San Simeon. The king rules that they are not allowed to enter Atlantis. When Commander Rourke pleads that his crew is tired after a long journey and in need of overnight accommodation, the king relents, permitting the group to camp overnight outside the gates. Princess Kidagakash (voiced by Cree Summer), however, believes that Atlantan civilization, which has lost its knowledge of its advanced technology, will be saved by the technology of the newcomers, so she goes outside the gates to befriend Milo and to show him around Atlantis. The visitors then gain access to Atlantis, and Rourke reveals his wicked motive as he begins his looting regardless of how many Atlantans must die. The rest of the film deals with how to stop Rourke. As a film that demonstrates by analogy the greed and brutality that the West has perpetrated by exploring and then colonizing non-Western peoples, the Political Film Society has nominated Atlantis: The Lost Empire for three awards–best film in raising consciousness of the need for democracy, human rights, and peace in the year 2001. MH