First Men In The Moon (US)
H.G. Wells` Astounding Adventure in Dynamation!
Running Time: 103 mins
Retail Price: $24.95
Content Type: Movie
H.G. Wells` fantastic account of life on the moon is vividly brought to the screen by special effects master Ray Harryhausen in this amazing sci-fi epic featuring extraterrestrial creatures. The film begins with a team of United Nations astronauts planning an upcoming moon mission. The astronauts are both confused and intrigued by a man who claims he, his fiancée and a scientist journeyed to the moon 65 years ago and were attacked by "Selenites," grotesque, human-like ant forms that live in immense crystal caverns. Now it`s up to the U.N. team to attempt a lunar landing that could be more horrifying than ever believed possible.
"This Is Dynamation" Featurette
"The Harryhausen Chronicles" Featurette
Widescreen Anamorphic 2.35:1
Dolby Digital 4.0 English
Director of Photography:
Charles H. Schneer
Columbia / Tristar
Your Opinions and Comments
Based on an H.G. Wells story, the film opens with a United Nations expedition landing on the moon. To their surprise they discover evidence that someone from Britain had landed on the moon in 1899. Back on earth Arnold Bedford (Edward Judd) is discovered living in an old folks home and is only too happy to tell his incredible tale of adventure. It seems that all those many years ago, Bedford and his fiancée Katherine Callender (Martha Hyer) discovered that their neighbour Joseph Cavor (Lionel Jeffries) had invented a gravity-defying compound and was planning a trip to the moon. Through a series of mis-adventures the three find themselves venturing forth on their lunar expedition. On landing on the moon they discover a system of crystalline caverns populated by the insect-like Selentites. Before long the brash Bedford has angered the natives, and, while Cavor decides to stay and try to smooth things over, Bedford and Callender desperately try to make they escape. Of cause no-one will believe of their trip until now. Now the U.N. team must find out if the Selentites are still there.
"First Men in the Moon" is wonderful entertainment, full of fearsome creatures, intentionally humorous dialogue, and, of course, Ray Harryhausen`s great special effects work - on this film he was greatly helped by Les Bowie and Kit West. (It should be noted that this was - almost - the only time that Harryhausen used people in costumes - there were far too many monsters in some scenes to animate). An un-credited Peter Finch play the Bailiff`s Man - It is said that he was visiting the set when the actor contracted to play the part did not show up.
"First Men in the Moon" is presented in 2.35:1 anamorphic widescreen and features a wonderful video transfer. The image is sharp with only a handful of softer scenes. Colours are wonderfully vibrant with surprisingly good black levels. In addition, there are only a handful of minor physical defects on the film elements, some very slight film grain, and no noticeable compression artefacts. This is a great presentation for a film going on 40 years old. Audio comes in an English Dolby Digital 4.0 mix and is very good. Dynamic range is understandably a bit constrained but the soundstage is nice and wide with good surround usage, with the effect working nicely. Dialogue is always clear and the rousing musical score comes across very well.
Extras on the disc are quite disappointing as they repeat the hour-long documentary "The Ray Harryhausen Chronicles" and the 4-minute "This is Dynamation" featurette that have appeared on previous Columbia Tri-Star Harryhausen DVDs. The documentary is narrated by Leonard Nimoy and covers Harryhausen`s life and work. This is an interesting piece and features numerous interview snippets with the man himself and many of his admirers, but when you have it on one disc you do not want it on two others. The featurette is an exhibitor`s sales film for "7th Voyage of Sinbad" offering a brief overview of the signature Harryhausen stop-motion special effects style. Also included on the disc is a short photo gallery as well as trailers for "First Men in the Moon," "The Golden Voyage of Sinbad," and "The 7th Voyage of Sinbad."
As a `teenager` when this film came to the cinemas - although I was watching more adult films in general - I can say that the child in me loved the film in 1964 and seeing it for the first time since in `scope` makes you realise what wonderful pieces of entertainment these films are. DVD has meant that I have a copy of a great film that can be shown in my home almost better than when I first saw it so many years ago.
Columbia Tri-Star`s new release of "First Men in the Moon" continues in the tradition of their previous Ray Harryhausen DVDs and presents the film with wonderful audio and visual quality as well as a handful of bonus features. Fans of Harryhausen will certainly want to own this but it`s also an easy recommendation for fans of good old-fashioned adventure films that don`t take themselves too seriously and focus instead on providing 90 minutes of sheer unadulterated fun.