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 unforgettable extra-terrestrial creatures. The film begins... more » with a team of United Nations astronauts planning an upcoming moon mission. The astronauts are both confused and intrigued by a man (Judd) who claims he, his fiancee 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 is up to the U.N. team to attempt a lunar landing that could be more horrifying than ever believed possible.« less
"For many years, this hard-to-come-by gem was only available in crummy full-screen video transfers or chopped up Saturday movie-of-the-week presentations. What a joy to see this film on DVD, in all of it's widescreen and "Lunacolor" splendor! The transfer is really spectactular.In fact, everything is very well done (dare I say, "Imperial!"). Lionel Jeffries steals the show as the befuddled scientist Cavor, although we all know that Ray Harryhausen's effects are the real star of the picture. I love the Victorian moonship (S.S. Dolphin), and the pointy yellow Moon mountains, which are pure 1950's. The Moon creatures are surprisingly well-handled also, and for the most part, the picture more or less follows the book.Fans of the 70's British sci-fi television classic "Space: 1999" will instantly recognize the "creaky door" sound effect that plays when the Moon assistants are "frozen" until needed. The irony here is that the TV series takes place... on the Moon!The disc has two main extra bonus features; a promotional short for Harryhausen's "Dynamation" technique, and an hour-long documentary on Harryhausen's life and career. The documentary, narrated by Leonard Nimoy, has been featured on the American Movie Classics "Real to Reel" series, and is very, very well made. The Master is extensively interviewed, and many of his models displayed during the interviews. He discusses behind-the-scenes moments, how certain models were made, his signature "skeleton warriors", and other insightful and informative things. This bonus is a real prize for Harryhausen fans (which is all of us, I think). Now, I am not the world's biggest fan of Tom Hanks, but included here is a clip with one of the best Oscar night lines ever, this one from the 1992 Oscar Ceremonies when Harryhausen was given his lifetime achievement award. Said Hanks after the award was given, "Some people say 'Casablanca', or 'Citizen Kane'. I say 'Jason and the Argonauts' is the greatest film ever made!"I can't really agree, but I loved the sentiment.This is a very nice disc, with a classic sci-fi thriller and excellent bonus matierials, so buy it and don't delay. If you've never seen "First Men in the Moon", I envy you; you're in for a real treat!"
1899: The Year We Made Contact
cookieman108 | Inside the jar... | 10/09/2004
(4 out of 5 stars)
"The moon...that mysterious heavenly globe (made of cheese, or so I've been told) seeming so close at times, and yet so far (about a quarter of a million miles)...how many Earthbound peoples through the untold ages have looked up into the night sky and dreamed of setting foot on that milky astral orb, either to feast on it's rare moon cheeses, or to befriend its' weirdo inhabitants, earning their trust and then enslaving them...imagine the possibilities of having your own moon man army...that kid with the go-kart who lives down the street who thinks he' so cool would certainly be the first to feel my lunar wraith...but I digress...
First Men in the Moon (1964) aka H.G. Wells' First Men in the Moon is based on a story by, well, H.G. Wells himself. I haven't had an opportunity to read it yet, but I've heard good things, and adapted to the screen by Nigel Kneale (a name known to Hammer movie fans for Quatermass and the Pit) and Jan Read, who penned, among other works, Jason and the Argonauts (1963). Nathan Juran directed the film, and while you may not recognize the name, you are probably familiar with his works, if you like older adventure and science fiction films like me, as he also did 20 Million Miles to Earth (1957), The Brain from Planet Arous (1957), and The 7th Voyage of Sinbad (1958), among others. It's also worthy to note the film was produced by Hollywood legend and man responsible for some of the most popular science fiction/fantasy adventure pictures from the early 50's into the mid-60's Charles H. Schneer and let's not forget the special effects, provided for by none other than Ray Harryhausen, probably one of the most influential special effects artists ever...The film stars Edward Judd (The Day the Earth Caught Fire), Martha Hyers (The Night of the Grizzly), and Lionel Jefferies (Chitty Chitty Bang Bang).
The movie begins in the present, well, the present being 1964, and involves what many believe the very first expedition to the moon. Only thing is, once the astronauts arrive, they find evidence that Earthmen may have visited some 65 years earlier, in the year 1899. Further investigation leads to one Arnold Bedford (Judd), an elderly man in a English retirement home, who relates a utterly fantastic tale involving himself, his then fiancée Kate (Hyers), and an eccentric scientist named Joesph Cavor (Jefferies). Back in the day, Beford, a struggling playwright at the time, lived in a secluded cottage, with his only neighbor being Cavor. Bedford discovers Cavor has developed a metallic material, one that eliminates the effect of gravity, rendering any object coated with the material weightless. Bedford, seeing limitless possibilities and great fortunes to be had, manages to become partners with Cavor, and soon discovers Cavor has fantastic plans of his own, involving a space worthy sphere covered in the material, one that could theoretically transport it's passengers, as Ralph Kramden so eloquently put it, `to the Moon, Alice!' Somewhat reluctantly Bedford agrees to go, and by accident so does his fiancée Kate, and the three arrive on the lunar surface only to discover they are not alone. Within the moon, there's a race of creatures known as the Selenites, smallish, bug-like creatures living in a sort of hive, which capture our three now stranded travelers. For what purpose? (I'm thinking dissection for study or possibly even crossbreeding, myself, as that Kate is pretty hot...)
H.G. Wells' First Men in the Moon is a completely unrealistic tale, but then that's where the fun lies for me at least. Victorian age astronauts traveling to the moon in a metal sphere covered in anti-gravity metal and railcar bumpers to lessen the impact of landing? Somehow the film actually made it seem kinda credible (well, except for the deep sea diving suits used as space suits, and the fact that the men wore no gloves...I guess outer space is warmer than I was led to believe)...given the present day and age when so much information is available at the touch of a finger, we know how silly this is, but the idea seems to have a certain charming innocence, like that of a child who believes in things that occupy the twilight of our existence, like Santa Claus or the Easter Bunny. I was particularly impressed with the marvelously detailed and immense lunar sets and impressive special effects. I've seen better in other Harryhausen films, but even decent Harryhausen effects are better than others' best efforts (the giant caterpillars were top notch). The actors all did a good job, and I particularly enjoyed Lionel Jefferies as the somewhat kooky scientist imbued with limitless optimism. The Selenites looked cool, despite their artificial and unnatural look. The story is pretty simple, one I've seen many times before in science fiction films, so I wonder how closely it was to the source. I especially enjoy the touches of humor at the beginning, and I was a little disappointed that didn't carry over into the rest of the movie, but given the predicament that characters were in, it's understandable. I thought the ending capped off the story nicely, employing a classic element in science fiction with regards to our best, natural defense against ornery aliens. All in all, I'd say this is a wonderfully entertaining film that can be enjoyed by all, and certainly worth owning.
The wide screen anamorphic picture provided on this DVD looks really good, and the audio is superior. The infomration on the DVD case claims a remastered in high definition print, but I'm still wallowing in regular definition, so I can't confirm, or deny this aspect. The special features are plentiful, but basically the same I've seen from other DVD releases featuring Ray Harryhausen effects like featurettes entitled This is Dynamation, and The Ray Harryhausen Chronicles. There's also a photo gallery featuring photos from the film, and theatrical trailers for other Harryhausen films.
First Men in the Moon from 1964 now a great DVD !
Michael Ziegler | Philadelphia, Pa United States | 04/26/2003
(4 out of 5 stars)
"This turn of the century work by H. G. Wells became film reality in 1964 as Charles H. Schneer and Ray Harryhausen combined to bring it to the screen in a marvelous effort that will impress you with it's effects. The DVD sharpens them to crystal clarity and restores the awe that I first felt when I saw this film in the movies in "Lunacolor" in 1964. The introduction to this film of a modern day moon UN team landing culminating in a fantastic discovery that man had been there already in 1899 with the finding of a British Flag and claim for England under Queen Victoria was a great idea by the screenplay writer, which leaves you with a sense of anticipation of what is ahead. A search is conducted and a surviving member of the expedition is found who then begins to recount the famous Wells story from this point. This part of the movie starts off slowly. It spends some time charming you with the English countryside in springtime during the victorian era with all the flowers, tea and quiet that we would all love to have. You begin to think that this can't possibly be a movie about a trip to the moon as you see the antics of Lionel Jefferies as our "inventor chap" and Edward Judd as a young man trying to find his fortune. Then, suddenly, you are whisked away in the sphere like a bullet racing to the moon in a film that continually builds in tension and fantastic vision to fill the eye with color and your mind with the wonder of it all! When the Harryhausen moon creatures are seen, you will never forget them. The moon colors in the underground labs and tunnels are incredible, and this DVD brings them back to the way they were. A great job! There is also a vital CLUE in this DVD that was a part of the original book and film but was CUT on the VHS copy. Do you know what it is? Simply, when Mr. Cavor is about to leave for the moon he is warned while leaving the hothouse that he could "catch a cold". He does, which leads to the destruction of the moon civilization! What was cut out was all of the coughing that he displays in the film's crescendo of meeting with the Grand Lunar and this essential part of the work is back in the DVD! This makes the ending more understandable, and connects the images of a destroyed underground civilization when the film returns to the "present" moon expedition. This is a great legal point in the "danger" of making an assumption when a film is being re-issued. That VHS format was probably processed by a person who never read the book or saw the original film and perhaps thought is was an unintentional error on behalf of the original recording! It is our luck that someone recognized this omission and fixed it in this great DVD. Well recommended for children and it will boost their imagination."
An eccellent science fiction film of it's era.
Michael Ziegler | 03/04/2002
(4 out of 5 stars)
"The First Men In The Moon is an eccellent science fiction film of it's era.
Forget Leonard Maltin's book review(he must have had a bad day),this film is every bit as good as classics like The Day The Earth Stood Still and The Time Machine.
It's special effects and set design are very good for the time.
It is about the first Moon landers walking on the Moon and finding..........a British flag and a note with names on it dated 1899 claiming the Moon.
They report this to people on Earth who then go to an old people's home to find the man involved and then the imaginative story unfolds of how they got to the moon and back and the creatures that they encountered.
First class special effects from Ray Harryhausen and a witty script make this DVD a must for science fiction fans.
It also features a 54 minute documentary on the lifetime career of special effects pioneer Ray Harryhausen and finishes with a special career Academy award presented to him by longtime friend writer Ray Bradbury in a show hosted by a young and enthusiastic Tom Hanks."
One of my favorite 1960s science fiction films
Lawrance M. Bernabo | The Zenith City, Duluth, Minnesota | 09/28/2002
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I never knew at the time that I first saw "The First Men in the Moon" and "Five Million Years to Earth" (a.k.a. "Quartermass and the Pit" that both screenplays were written by Nigel Kneale, but in retrospect that makes prefect sense to me. Both movies begin with captivating hooks, although certainly "The First Men in the Moon" has one of the most memorable ones from my childhood: the first spaceship from Earth lands on the moon with its multi-national crew, only to discover a tattered British flag and an ancient parchment declaring the Moon has been taken for Her Majesty, Queen Victoria. This amazing discovery leads the authorities to what was then called a rest home, where they confront an old man, Arnold Bedford, with a photostat of the document. "You found this on the moon," he tells them. Bedford had been spared the excitement of the news about the moon landing because of his preoccupation with the subject. Learning that man has landed on the moon, he become quite agitated and insists the astronauts are in grave danger and should leave immediately.With that prelude, Bedford (Arthur Judd) tells them the story of how in the year 1899 he and his girlfriend, Katherine Callender (Martha Hyer) happened to meet up with the inventor, Joseph Cavor (Lionel Jeffries). Cavor had just invented Cavorite, an element that he applies in a paste to deflect gravity. By applying this paste strategically to a sphere he has constructed, Cavor intends to travel to the Moon. Bedford and Katherine are skeptical, until they are suddenly in the sphere hurtling towards the Moon. There, courtesy of Ray Harryhausen, they learn that being the first men in the moon might be a big mistake. I never read the H. G. Wells novel and I probably never will because this is one of those movies from childhood that is enhanced by memory so that its flaws are inconsequential. The science makes sense the way it does in comic books, but I never took physics (or chemistry or biology) so I have more latitude when it comes to the willing suspension of disbelief than most people. The main thing is that with its great hook, this 1964 film comes up with a good reason for the aged Bedford to be worried about men walking once more on the moon. If you have seen this movie, then you know what I am talking about and you probably feel the same way about this film. But if you have not seen "The First Men in the Moon" then hopefully I have given you enough to get you to track it down some time. Maybe it does not work as well on adults as it did on us as kids in the Sixties, and I am sure today's kids would find this an antiquated example of special effects, which is all too bad because there are not too many films today that could probably make the same sort of impression on young viewers that this one did way back when."