Rod Steiger plays the tattoo-covered title role in this fascinating vision of doom and danger based on the classic short story collection by futurist Ray Bradbury. Robert Drivas portrays a good-natured drifter who can't te... more »ar his eyes from Steiger's freakish illustrations. And Claire Bloom is the mysterious seductress who created the "art" that curses its bearer - and comes to life in a nightmarish trio of tales. Two spoiled children turn playtime into slay time (from The Veldt). Shipwrecked astronauts wander across a planet cursed by The Long Rain. And loving parents choose their children's fate when the end nears (from The Last Night of the World). Every one of The Illustrated Man's pictures tells a story. And every story ends in terror. DVD Features:
Steiger's performance main reason to watch "The Illustrated
Wayne Klein | My Little Blue Window, USA | 12/24/2006
(3 out of 5 stars)
"It's rare that I'll write an indifferent or negative review because I try to stick to stuff that I like. I had high hopes for "The Illustrated Man". The film has been critically lambasted over the years so was anxious to see if the film was a solid version of Bradbury's stories. Fans who enjoyed the film when it was first released will probably enjoy this the most. It reminds me of the minor classic "The Fool Killer" which had a promising story that just doesn't quite live up to its true potential. Regardless, Steiger gives a powerful and occasionally quirky performance as a drifted tatooed by a woman from the future from head to toe. When you look at the tatoos, they come alive setting up three different stories from Bradbury's famous book of the same name.
The framing device set during the Depression works well as does the very last story in this set. Carl (Rod Steiger in a commanding occasionally unhinged performance)plays a carnival worker who is lured into the parlor of a "Skin Illustrator" Felicia(Clarie Bloom). She works her magic with her needles and die using Carl's body for a canvas to create illustrations that come to life if the viewer stares at them for too long. Carl borders on madness because of the experience (he says he can feel them crawl on his skin literally itching to tell a story I suppose)and because he's now an outcast is trying to find Felicia so he can kill her. Carl meets a drifter Willie (the late Robert Drivas --who looks a bit like Nathan Fillion from "Firefly", "Serenity" and "Slither"-- in a fine performance where he holds his own throughout the film against Steiger). Carl unfolds his story about becoming an illustrated man and Willie finds himself drawn into three of the "tattoos" that ensnare him in their stories. *** WARNING: SPOILERS BELOW *** The first story "The Veldt" is set in the future. A holographic playroom figures in this one. Carl and Felicia (Steiger and Bloom in an inspired bit of creative casting the major characters are all played by the same trio of actors that appear in the framing story)discover that their children's version of an African plain is disturbing. They contact their mental health worker (Drivas)in hope that he can help them understand what's going on. In reality the fantasy atmosphere has turned their two children into little more than decadent killers.
In the second part "The Long Rains" we join a quartet astronauts stranded on Venus (I only know this from having read the book)after their ship crashes. They spent their time in the torrential downpour of rain gradually going mad as they search the planet for one of 120 "Sundomes" (essentially an enclosed raft with all the comforts of home). The story becomes a pointless exercise in dramatic extremes and the story is driven into incomprehension by the heavy handed editing of either the sequence, the script or the story. It's clear that this film was fiddled with in the editing room how else to explain the major holes in the plots of some of the stories?
The third story is the most powerful and moving. It's also probably the best outside of the framing story. The world is about to end in a nuclear holocaust. The parents (Steiger and Bloom again) debate euthanizing their children. The last story features moving performances from the cast.
END OF SPOILERS***
An earthbound film all of Bradbury's classic book still features solid performances. The stories selected for the film are probably not the best (except the last which is exceptionally realized)and first time screenwriter Howard B. Kreitsek's script is heavy handed. The editing doesn't do the film any favors either--although it was released in 1969 a quicker cutting style would have improved the slow pacing of the stories. It's not quite the disaster that "The Martian Chronicles" was but it fails to live up to Truffaut's film of "Farenheit 451" or even "Something Wicked This Way Comes".
There's little in the way of visual effects (which is just as well as they would probably distract from the story)and the production design is very much of its times. Why is that when costume designers visualize the future they always see us dressing in badly designed clothing?
Warner has done a terrific job with this release. We get the original theatrical trailer as well a vintage featurette on the film. The film receives an exceptional transfer with nice bold colors during most of the film. Image quality varies a bit there are some hints of softness to the images on occasion but that's not a surprise given the age of the film.
"Tattooed Steiger" gives us a vintage promo piece that looks behind-the-scenes and allows us to see some of the make up sessions as well as bits and pieces of the rehearsals. We also get the original theatrical trailer and a promo piece for "The Dukes of Hazzard"(!) prequel. Why we have the latter is beyond me it has as much to do with sci-fi as "Gomer Pyle". Maybe it's the boomer audience that would buy this that they are aiming at.
Overall this film may not be everyone's cup of tea but those who grew up watching it on TV or when it was originally released will probably still enjoy it. The film will also be appreciated by fans of Steiger."
C. R. Dun | Riehen, Switzerland | 12/20/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This is my favorite movie. Hard to say why....its something to do with the higher element of it. Rod Steiger gives one of his best performances, Claire Bloom and Robert Drivas are also very powerful and the direction of Jack Smight is masterful. Its a film about the human condition, watch it with a very open mind and you'll be blown away. Ok, so why isn't it available on DVD?"
A Tour de Force of acting and storytelling....
T. L. West | 06/04/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"...Rod Steiger's finest performance, and along with "Something Wicked This Way Comes", and "Farenheit 451", one of the best adaptations ever of Bradbury put to the big screen..... and YOU can't see it on DVD, unless you, and everyone you know votes for it. PLEASE vote for this great film, it's a classic that TRULY deserves to be treasured, restored, and preserved on DVD. You won't regret it."
Mr. J. R. Harlow | London | 04/15/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"DVD, DVD, where on earth is the DVD. Come on Warner, do the decent thing and release this movie on DVD."
Interesting... but maybe not for everyone
mn381 | New Mexico USA | 10/20/2001
(4 out of 5 stars)
"It is possible that some viewers may find this classic late 60's
sci-fi not up to the standard of Ray Bradbury's creative style. But since childhood, I have always enjoyed this movie. Rod Steiger (one of my favorite actors) is unique and believable in his role as the "illustrated man", and Claire Bloom is beautiful as always. The movie gets a bit slow in parts but somehow with the musical score is mysterious and entertaining. If you enjoyed 451 I think you will be pleased with this captivating film."