For decades an important film, George Pal's Atlantis: The Lost Continent was completely unavailable in any form. You could look throughout the world and not find it. Not even the parlors of obscure films from the mysterious east as found on 8th Avenue near 42nd street in NY carried it. A civilization that can make many seasons of Baywatch available should be able to distribute a film by George Pal, one might think. Some people believe that this suppression was an indication of a conspiracy at the highest levels, a conspiracy to deny the existence of Atlantis and thus of Atlantean Crystal Wisdom.
This essay argues the opposite: that the suppression of this film is evidence of a conspiracy of a different type. We believe that this film is a fraud and not made by George Pal at all, but by anti-Platonic counterrevolutionaries who intended to destroy our society by attacking the underpinnings of Western Civilization philosophical thought by slandering the history and purpose of this important and misunderstood civilization and its advanced crystal-based technology. The suppression of the film was a way to suppress lies created by a previously unsuspected secret society of Plato Haters.
Robert Graves, in his work The Greek Myths (1), reminds us that many myths contain within them the record of political events of the past. A classic example, from his point of view is the birth of Athene/Minerva from the head of Zeus. The backstory here is that Zeus had previously swallowed Metis, a previous goddess of wisdom. According to Graves, this story is really about the Hellenic invaders controlling an indigenous religion by making the goddess of wisdom clearly subservient to and descended from the patriarchal and intrusive religion of the invaders as represented by their chief phallus wielder, Zeus (2). The point that Graves makes time and again is that myth is not random, or some reflection of a collective Jungian unconsciousness, but contains elements of genuine political and religious struggle from the past.
With that in mind, let us consider the case of Atlantis and this mysteriously missing film Atlantis The Lost Continent from 1961.
This movie was seen by every young boy in the Los Angeles area many times on television where they were amazed by the evil crystal death rays, the exotic and dangerous women, and the horrible priests of an evil religion who used crystals to turn prisoners into beasts as slaves. It was obvious even to a 10 year old that this was a bad movie, even a very bad movie, but it was entertaining. Then, like a dream, it disappeared.
As time went by it became clear that this film must have some sort of history around it. It was both produced and directed by George Pal, and yet the film was nowhere near the quality of his other films, which included War of the Worlds, the 7 Faces of Dr. Lao, The Time Machine, When Worlds Collide and other classics of the genre. Some people suspected that it was being suppressed by Disney, who had their own Atlantis film to promote. Others, that the rights were tied up in some way that made it awkward to release on DVD. But others suspected that something else was going on, something behind the scenes, something that did not want to be exposed.
Then after all these years, I discovered that Atlantis: The Lost Continent had just been released on DVD and that the trailer, with a narration/appreciation by John Landis, was on Youtube. Landis recounts how he saw the movie in the theatre when it came out, talks about how as an 11 year old he really loved the movie and relates trivia about the film including such things as the submarine model was a feature of Forrest Ackerman's landscape for many years, that all the crowd scenes are lifted from Quo Vadis, also an MGM movie. He ends the piece by wondering how George Pal could have made such a terrible film, and what a shame it is that it could not be as good as the memories of an 11 year old.
It is probably unnecessary to remind the reader that Atlantis holds a very special place in the hearts of all scholars of the field of ancient history and religion. All one has to do is to bring up the topic and ask an innocent question, such as what light archaeology can shed on the well-known fact that the Egyptians used Atlantean Crystal Wisdom to build the Pyramids, and one is placed irrevocably in a "certain category" in the eyes of most scholars. One never has to worry about being taken seriously again.
And yet, the first attestation of Atlantis in the received literature is from none other than Plato. Yes, that Plato, one of the philosophers whose work lies at the very foundation of Western Civilization and thought. The one who was a student and devoted follower of Socrates, the guy who wrote The Republic. He is the one who first mentions Atlantis with an apparent straight face, claiming that he got his information from the Egyptians.
Almost immediately, Plato's followers started spreading the story that of course the great man wasn't serious, he was just using this story to make a point about political economy. It was a metaphor, for goodness' sake, they would say, don't be so literal about everything. This seems like a very dangerous course to take. Once you start chipping away at this and that, where do you stop? Today its Atlantis, tomorrow perhaps its the tripartite theory of the soul, and then where are you? No, I think you have to accept pretty much all of Plato or none of it. This is somewhat of a strict-constructionist approach, but let us go with that and see what light it sheds on the issue at hand: why you could not get this important film on DVD for decades.
From the very beginning, enemies of Plato and Platonic Thought attacked Plato and his followers over the issue of Atlantis as a way of discrediting the whole of Plato's work. And this movie shows Atlantis not as a triumph of government and technology, but a society that has fallen into evil and decay, and which is destroyed because of that.
But why would George Pal make a movie that attacked Plato and Science? Clearly Pal was a friend of science, not an enemy! My theory is that George Pal was duped and used to create this slam on Plato's as part of a behind-the-scenes effort to discredit this great man.
Take for example this frame from the trailer, referring to "The Weird Cult of Science Worship." That is not something George Pal would say. Never. This is the man who brought HG Wells War of the Worlds to the screen in which the science of evolutionary biology and of our immune system brings down the haughty Martians. Pal was devoted to science. This could not be his work. No, it must be the work of people who hate science. QED.
It is my thesis that in reaction to this travesty, supporters of Pal and Plato worked after the fact to suppress this disingenuous propaganda piece and thus defend the good name of both Pal and Plato. One day we will learn the truth.
1. The Greek Myths by Robert Graves is considered the classic reference work in English on the topic of Greek mythology because of its thorough research by Graves of the literary sources and his meticulous citations to those sources. Grave's interpretations of the myths themselves are more controversial, however. See http://www.amazon.com/dp/0143106716/ref=rdr_ext_tmb
2. In the world of historical linguistics, Zeus is believed to be cognate with the Latin word deus, as in deus ex machina.
3. Students of voice over will recognize and appreciate the voice of Paul Frees on the trailer.