27 October 2017

EUREKA ENTERTAINMENT PRESENTS: JOURNEY TO THE CENTRE OF THE EARTH. (1959) REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS.




JOURNEY TO THE CENTRE OF THE EARTH. (1959) BASED ON THE BOOK OF THE SAME NAME BY JULES VERNE. DIRECTED BY HENRY LEVIN. MUSIC BY BERNARD HERRMANN. STARRING JAMES MASON, PAT BOONE, ARLENE DAHL, DIANE BAKER AND A REALLY CUTE DUCK. REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

It's a terrible shame that kids don't read adventure stories any more. When I was a kid, and it's not that long ago, people still read books, actual books that you can hold in your hand and feel and smell and breathe in the essence of.

Jules Verne would have been among the writers whose books kids read in my own not-so-far-away childhood. I want to keep stressing that. I'm not old, I'm genuinely not old, and yet my generation is probably the last one to have read books like this growing up.

Jules Verne, the French novelist, poet and playwright, was certainly a great source of adventure stories, definitely in the same league as Arthur Conan Doyle (THE LOST WORLD), James Fenimore Cooper (LAST OF THE MOHICANS) and Lewis Carroll (ALICE IN WONDERLAND).

In addition to JOURNEY TO THE CENTRE OF THE EARTH (the Americans spell it 'center,' those kooky Americans!), he also has TWENTY THOUSAND LEAGUES UNDER THE SEA and AROUND THE WORLD IN EIGHTY DAYS to his name as well, both of which were made into great films, the former also starring James Mason.

Many people think that Jules Verne was ahead of his time as far as science fiction is concerned. 'We are all, in one way and another, the children of Jules Verne.' Ray Bradbury said that. I like it. It's a nice compliment.

Quite a few authors were influenced by Monsieur Verne, who died in 1905 in a house in a little French street that now bears his name. His tomb is in Amiens, France, and it would be well worth a visit for any travellers who happen to find themselves wandering in that direction.

The film JOURNEY TO THE CENTRE OF THE EARTH does exactly what it says on the tin. The marvellous, not to mention handsome, James Mason (LOLITA, THE BOYS FROM BRAZIL, THE DESERT FOX, SALEM'S LOT) plays the central character, an eccentric Scottish professor of geology called Sir Oliver Lindenbrook.

Mind you, most professors are eccentric, aren't they, especially professors of science-y things? Still, I hope it's not being racist to say that one can imagine a Scottish professor being more eccentric than most...!

In 1880, this endearingly nutty professor leads an expedition to what he believes will be the dead centre of the earth. He enters the earth through a volcano in Iceland, accompanied by a team of intrepid explorers as cracked and idiosyncratic as himself.

These include his young, fresh-faced assistant Alec McEwan (who is affianced to Professor Lindenbrook's pretty niece Jenny), Carla Goteburg, the comely widow of a recently deceased fellow scientist, a big, blonde burly native Icelander called Hans and Hans's adorable pet duck Gertrud. I do believe I implied that this was a fairly motley crew...!

Gertrud is at the centre of both the funniest scene in the film (the Morse code scene) and also the most tragic. Roast duck, anyone? She's the comic relief in a film that already has a heart as big as all Hollywood.

James Mason as the Professor is funny in a gruff, grumpy kind of way (in other words, his bite is worse than his bite) and we're rooting for the little team of mismatched companions all the way, even though their path to the centre of the earth is impeded by a jealous rival and some giant and ferocious old-school monsters.

Will they get where they're going and, more importantly, it seems to me, will they be able to get back out again? It's not like they're leaving a trail of breadcrumbs behind them, Hansel-and-Gretel-style, or a woolly-jumper-trail as in the case of Ted and Dougal from FATHER TED when they go to the Caves, which are 'so dark, it's almost like being blind...!'

The intrepid crew of explorers don't seem to have given any thought to that part of their journey at all, and in any case, it's kind of glossed over in the film, haha. It's seemingly not that important how they get home, what matters is that they reach their goal before Alec loses any more of his clothes...

Highlights obviously include the fabulous and mesmerising underground ocean, the gigantic iguana-style monsters and the utterly astonishing discovery of the Lost City of Atlantis. There might even be a little romance bubbling away under the surface, quite aside from Alec and Jenny's engagement, but I'm certainly not going to reveal any little secrets. Not even if you tickle me or offer me money, my two key weaknesses.

Some of the underground scenes were apparently filmed in Carlsbad Caverns National Park. That's the place where Lisa Simpson from THE SIMPSONS got diarrhoea, if her wise-ass bigger brother Bart is to be believed, in the episode where they both end up in the same class in Springfield Elementary. This is the kind of random little aside I find highly amusing. Well, I never pretended to be all high-brow...!

This fantastic classic adventure film for all the family is out now on special Blu-Ray release from EUREKA ENTERTAINMENT as part of their EUREKA CLASSICS range. It's the perfect choice for a dull Sunday afternoon and, if you're feeling so inclined, you could even read the book after you watch the film. Do not, as I was advised to do recently by an acquaintance, 'download the app for books' and go from there. Read the actual book, while you still can...

AUTHOR BIOGRAPHY OF SANDRA HARRIS.

Sandra Harris is a Dublin-based novelist, film blogger and movie reviewer. She has studied Creative Writing and Film-Making. She has published a number of e-books on the following topics: horror film reviews, multi-genre film reviews, womens' fiction, erotic fiction, erotic horror fiction and erotic poetry. Several new books are currently in the pipeline. You can browse or buy any of Sandra's books by following the link below straight to her Amazon Author Page:

http://www.amazon.com/-/e/B015GDE5RO

You can contact Sandra at:


http://sandrafirstruleoffilmclubharris.wordpress.com







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