This movie came out in 1967, a year before 2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY . . . but they've always been related in my mind. Maybe it was just the time, maybe you had to be there . . . but back in the late 60's there weren't many big "science fiction" productions . . . or in this case sweeping epics about the past or the future.
One thing the two films share is a lack of dialog . . . in both cases the director's sit back and the actions tell the story. As well both films are happy to display their special effects moments as set pieces . . . "hey, we spent a lot of money on this?!"
Don Chaffey's long cuts and static landscape shots at the beginning of the film are very much like Kubrick's shots of Africa at the start of 2001 . . . and both films are literal and allegorical treatments of evolution as a theme.
Of course, that went with the times. The late 60's were a point where the evolution of society was a focal point of culture in general . . . both the Star Child and Miss Welch in her iconic bearskin bikini became the late 60's poster children for mankind's evolution.
Interestingly, though Ray Harryhausen did the special effects for ONE MILLION YEARS BC, the film isn't at all like a Harryhausen film, nor is it much like the films of it's production company Hammer Films (except perhaps for the two sequels WHEN DINOSAURS RULED THE EARTH, and CREATURES THE WORLD FORGOT.)
Hammer - with Harryhausen's involvement - had been interested in remaking KING KONG, but in the late 1960's RKO's rights to the Kong character were shared among Universal and Toho (KING KONG VS GODZILLA) and Rankin- Bass (the cartoon Kong which served as a basis for the Toho film KING KONG ESCAPES.)
In fact, right at the time that Hammer would have been inquiring, Toho would have been working on preproduction of a film in which King Kong met Mothra and battled a giant shrimp (Ebirah) in the South Seas. (That film mutated, Godzilla replaced KING KONG, and it became GODZILLA VS EBIRAH aka GODZILLA VS THE SEA MONSTER.)
So Hammer moved on to a remake of the Hal Roach 1(no YEARS) MILLION BC.
With it's lingering shots of vast landscapes, and the very Italian score by Mario Nascembe(with the percussion and use of a chorus it could almost be Ennio Morricone . . .), the film is pretty much unique in Hammer's oeuvre . . . and with it's focus on sex (well, possession at least) and violence in a harsh landscape of sharp desert light or fire lit darkness, it's pretty unique as a Harryhausen picture too.
Opinions about the film really depend on the point-of-view you adopt (again like 2001). Those who like their acting to be dialog driven complain about the acting, but actually everyone puts in a good performance here and I have no doubt that beautiful Napondi (Martine Beswicke) wouldn't think twice about impaling Luana (Raquel Welch) with that antelope horn she wields.
It's been speculated that the schedule was tough for Harryhausen, resulting in a scene with a photo-optically enlarged Iguana and Tarantula . . . although Harryhausen says the producers wanted those sequences added. (If you look closely you'll see a giant cricket in the scene with the Tarantula, probably the first giant cricket until 2005's KING KONG with it's herd of killer wetas, and doubtlessly in their to excite the Tarantual into a "performance.)
The fact that publicity photos show a battle between cavemen and a brontosaurus that never happens in the film probably backs up the story that the schedule was too short for Harryhausen.
Nevertheless, the stop motion on view is excellent . . . except for the Brontosaurus who looks about the size of Godzilla. The pacing and animation in the battle with the giant turtle Archelon is excellent, and most people just accept the turtle as real. The Allosaurus attack . . .possibly one of Harryhausen's most exciting sequences ever . . . is terrific. In many ways it holds up even today as a model of the integration of live action and special effects The classic Triceratops battle is interesting for utilizing a Ceratosaurus instead of Tyrannosaurus . . . but with our two heroes in the classic "trapped in a cave" position it's a bit static. However the Pterodactyl scenes, and the big volcano and earthquake finish are pretty riveting.
All in all, ONE MILLION YEARS BC is still a lot of fun if your in the right mood. Again, like 2001, the message seems to be that we can evolve and get better . . . but ultimately just as the monolith transforming Dave makes the standoff between Russians and Americans on the moon a non-issue, the battle between the Rock and the Sand tribe becomes . . . well . . . pretty irrelevant when the forces of nature - Volcanic eruptions and earthquakes - make mankind's aspirations tiny in comparison.
The film has been restored twice in the last decade, and the recent 20th Century Fox DVD has comparisons of the work done (the original negative was lost). The European version clocks in at 100 minutes . . . and most people say that it is an improvement, with more character scenes and a different order of sequences at the beginning of the film. The Fox version is the North American release version that is 91 minutes long. Spanish and English trailers on the DVD seem to be identical, with the narrator simply translated into Spanish.
Ultimately, any dinosaur or monster fan, fan of Ray Harryhausen's work, or fan of "Hammer glamor" is going to want to own this film.
One Million Years B.C.
Adventure / Fantasy
One Million Years B.C.
Adventure / Fantasy
Caveman Tumak (John Richardson) is banished from his savage tribe. He finds a brief home amongst a group of gentle seacoast dwelling cave people until he is banished from them as well. Missing him, one of their women, Loana (Raquel Welch), leaves with him, deciding to face the harsh prehistoric world with its monsters and volcanoes as a couple.
Uploaded By: FREEMAN
April 01, 2020 at 09:30 AM