At the time this movie version came out the science shown was state of the art and outstanding. While not believeable on some levels, man was already flying faster than sound, the idea of one man accumulating such power...Captain Nemo anyone....was still quite novel.
But the idea of someone who tried to level the playing field...anyone remember the Cold War, if you don't you missed out on a lot of truly scary times, nuclear winter, nuclear annihilation, being turned into a crisp cinder...has always been of interest.
American International was the leader of the genre film industry at that time, and such fine actors as Vincent Price, Peter Lorre, and Boris Karloff were their cornerstones.
Set in the summer of 1903, a series of unexplained events occur across the eastern United States, caused by objects moving with such great speed that they are nearly invisible. The first-person narrator John Strock, 'Head inspector in the federal police department' in Washington, DC, travels to the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina to investigate. He discovers that all the phenomena are being caused by Robur, a brilliant inventor. (He was previously featured as a character in Verne's Robur the Conqueror.)
Robur has perfected a new machine, which he has dubbed the Terror. It is ten-meter long vehicle, capable of operating as a speedboat,submarine, automobile, or aircraft. It can travel at the (then) unheard of speed of 150 miles per hour on land and at more than 200 mph when flying.
Strock tries to capture the Terror but instead is captured himself. Robur drives the strange craft to elude his pursuers, heading to theCaribbean and into a thunderstorm. The Terror is struck by lightning, breaks apart, and falls into the ocean. Strock is rescued from the vehicle's wreckage, but Robur's body is never found. The reader is left to decide whether or not he has died.
Literary significance & criticismMaster of the World contains a number of scientific ideas, current to Verne's time, which are now widely known to be errors. For example, traveling at high speed does not reduce a vehicle's weight.
Allusions/referencesThe novel's events take place in the summer of 1903, as characters refer to events of the 1902 Mount Pelée eruption on Martinique. Verne took a few liberties with American geography in the novel. It is set in Morganton, North Carolina and refers to a mountain known as the Great Aerie. The name suggests Mount Airy, located elsewhere in North Carolina; its description as flat-topped is similar to the mountain nearby known as Table Rock. Another portion of the novel is described as taking place at a large deep natural lake in Kansas, but there is no such lake.
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