In this vivid view of prehistoric life, a man from the mean-spirited Rock People (John Richardson) is banished from his home. He soon finds himself among the kind, gentle Shell People and falls in love with one of their lo... more »ving tribeswomen (Raquel Welch). The twosome decide to face the world together, cut off from all tribal support, alone in a deadly world of hideous beast and earthshattering volcanic eruptions. The film's pioneering special effects have made it a true science-fiction classic.« less
"Before you order this DVD, make sure you are aware that this is the shortened, U.S. release version! Fox issued the complete film several years ago on laserdisc in a gorgeous widescreen transfer, so naturally everyone expected that they would do the same for the DVD. No such luck -- Fox has decided this time out to go with the notorious truncated version, which runs a full nine minutes shorter than the original British release. Ray Harryhausen fans should be particularly outraged, as the edited film snips away some of his special effects footage. This has to rank as the first major DVD disappointment of 2004. I love this movie, but I won't be purchasing the U.S. DVD. Immediately upon finding out the bad news, I placed an order through Amazon.co.uk for the complete film on R2 DVD, which, in addition to being uncensored, also features some extras (including reportedly lengthy interviews with Raquel Welch and Ray Harryhausen) that will not be included on the R1 disc. If you are a fan of this richly atmospheric, goofily entertaining dinosaur epic, I recommend you do the same."
Widescreen Lovers Beware!
Leo W. Early, Jr. | Torrance, CA, USA | 09/20/2008
(1 out of 5 stars)
"This is the best cavemen-and-dinosaurs movie ever made! The acting is superb, and, yes, there is a lot of scope for acting in this movie. The plot isn't very subtle, but it concerns the most powerful of all dramatic themes -- survival -- and it is utterly gripping. The scenery is magnificent, and magnificently filmed. The animation by Ray Harryhausen is brilliant and realistic. The score by Mario Nascimbene is awe-inspiring and perfectly appropriate to the action. No, the movie is not scientifically accurate, but that doesn't matter. The movie is fantasy, and should be viewed as a picture, not of the world we live in as it was long ago, but of another world, which might have existed if things had gone differently.
There are some people who laugh at the scene where Tumak is chased by the giant blue iguana, but Ray Harryhausen may have the last laugh, as this is the most realistic part of the movie. In Australia 50,000 years ago, there really were gigantic carnivorous lizards, and there can be no doubt that on some occasions they really did chase down, kill, and eat the ancestors of the Australian aborigines. The lizard is called Megalania today, and it was 30 feet long and 7 feet high in the middle of the back. Its small relative the Komodo dragon is a known man-eater. Of course, Megalania did not look exactly like an iguana, and the shot would have been more realistic with a real Komodo dragon, but a real Komodo dragon would try to eat the cast and crew, and its bite is almost as dangerous as a cobra's. In addition to venom glands which run the whole length of its lower jaw, it harbors a host of nasty bacteria in its mouth. One of these is Yersinia Multocida, which translates roughly as "the bubonic plague relative that kills everything". Iguanas are harmless.
By now you're wondering why I gave the movie one star instead of five.
A close comparison between the DVD version (Region 1) and a full-screen version shown on television reveals that, contrary to the advertising, this is not a widescreen version of the movie. It was made by cutting off the top and bottom of the fullscreen version.
Nor was it made by a careful pan-and-scan process, like the one used to convert movies filmed in Cinemascope into fullscreen versions for television, which tries to ensure that the most important parts of the picture remain centered on the visible screen. Instead, they seem to have cut off the same parts of the picture without regard to what was being shown. Heads and legs of people and dinosaurs are cut off. Spectacular mountain peaks are cut off, leaving a dull brown scene without distinguishing landmarks. In extreme close-ups, people's foreheads and chins are cut off.
If they had advertised this version as a fullscreen version cut down to fit a widescreen TV, that would be truthful and I would have no complaint. But to advertise it as a "widescreen" version, "preserving the original theatrical aspect ratio", is deceptive and misleading."
Of Monsters and Fur Bikinis.
Robert S. Clay Jr. | St. Louis, MO., USA | 06/19/2002
(3 out of 5 stars)
"Raquel Welch was a familiar pop-culture, poster icon in the '60s because her astonishing super structure clad in a fur bikini is the stuff of dreams. The story of Loana (Welch) of the peaceful Shell people and Tumak (John Richardson) of the warlike Rock people fails to engage the viewer completely. The stop-motion animation of Ray Harryhausen covers a multitude of sins, however. The special effects carry the movie. Although the first "dinosaur" we see is merely an iquana with rubber fins, blown up to fantastic proportions. This ersatz monster may be typical of Irwin Allen or Bert I. Gordon, but not the superior Ray Harryhausen. A cost conscious producer must have overruled RH on this one. The grim story of stone-age survival and primitive struggle lumbers along until the volcanic conclusion. One problem is the lack of intelligible dialogue and the bewildering use of gestures and grunts that serve as communication. Character development is minimal. The color photography is crisp and clear in the VHS transfer. A distinctive music score adds to the primeval atmosphere. The individual parts of this movie are better than its whole. Oddly, this is a Hammer Films production. It is a definite change of pace from Dracula style horror flicks. Determined sci-fi fans should be pleased. Others should tread carefully. ;-)"
Spectacular Dinosaur epic with excellent Harryhausen effects
Simon Davis | 12/03/2002
(3 out of 5 stars)
""One Million Years B.C." is always simply dismissed as Raquel Welch in the world's first fur bikini and historically inaccurate in having cave men fighting dinosaurs when the two never shared the earth at anytime. This film is certainly more than that and while no acting masterpiece it is, as an earlier reviewer stated "a classic of sorts". Certainly the Dinosaur animation is top notch and some of the best of its kind and these sequences really make this film a great viewing experience.
The brilliant Ray Harryhausen, long a veteran of stop motion monster animation works his usual magic in this production and comes up with some of his greatest achievements. Produced by Hammer Studios in England here Harryhausen is allowed the full spectrum of dinosaur types and comes up with some creatures that have gone into dinosaur movie folklore. His Pterodactyl which carries Miss Welch off to its rocky nest, the giant turtle and best of all the savage killer Allosaurus and Triceratops are well known images of this production and really create the main interest in this film. Certainly they may not be a spectacular as those of Jurassic Park but in my opinion they are just as brilliant and show a genius's work at his most creative.Being a dinosaur fan I think this is a great film to introduce yourself to this period of evolution.
The storyline of "One Million Years B.C." is an extremely simple one. It depicts the harsh lives of two different types of tribes; the Rock people who are distinguished by their darker features and brutal manner, and the shell people who are fairer and very peaceful. John Richardson plays a member of the rock tribe who is cast out and seeks protection with the shell people who spend their days collecting fruit and fish and growing vegetables. A romance develops between Richardson and Raquel Welch who is the beautiful member of the shell people. The film chronicles their struggles to survive, fight off savage dinosaurs and win acceptance of the tribes. Don't look for detailed character development or insightful dialogue here as the verbal exchanges are made up of assorted grunts and gestures but somehow in this film it works well and the action moves along at a great pace so the attention doesn't lag at all. Certainly this appearance, whatever its acting merits, was the star making role for Raquel Welch and the image of her in the famous fur two piece bikini is one of the visual icons of the 1960's in much the same way as Jane Fonda's outfit in the cult film "Barberella".
"One Million years B.C." benefits greatly from its superb visual qualities first and foremost being the wonderful location photography which was done on the Canary Islands. The sparse, bare landscapes, Volcanic mountain ranges and picturesque ocean vistas really add to the atmosphere of the film and give an eerie feeling of actually being back in a stone age setting. The studio work based around the shell peoples campsite is excellently integrated into this footage and indeed is one of the film's standout points.
Put aside any qualms you have about historical chronology and enjoy some of the best dinosaur animation from the 1960's. I am still amazed today (even in this time of computer generated special effects) by the superbly presented fight sequences between some of the warring dinosaurs so expert is the animation employed. For a beautiful looking film that doesn't pretend to be an academic look at our planet's early life "One Million Years B.C." will be an enjoyable couple of hours viewing."
1966 HAMMER REMAKE HAS EXCELLENT DINOSAURS AND RAQUEL
Roy P. Webber | Escanaba, Michigan | 12/19/1999
(4 out of 5 stars)
"After the commercial failure of FIRST MEN IN THE MOON, Ray Harryhausen and Charles Schneer briefly parted ways. Schneer made HALF A SIXPENCE; Harryhausen was hired by Hammer Films to do the effects in a proposed remake of the film that inspired his career, KING KONG. Unfortunately, this feature was never made because the rights could not be secured at that time from the estate of Merian C. Cooper. So Ray suggested they remake a 1940 movie that starred Carole Landis and Victor Mature, and included a multitude of lizards that were photographically enlarged to stand-in as the prehistoric fauna. He felt he could do better here. The saurians of ONE MILLION YEARS B.C. are expertly crafted in this picture. He collaborated with Arthur Hayward, a preparator at the British Museum of Natural History to design these monsters. Indeed, they are a quantum leap over the previous dinosaurs he animated in the film ANIMAL WORLD ( which has never been released on video ). Oddly enough, Ray did include an iguana optically blown-up as one of the prehistorics; many criticized this move but now it seems more like an homage to the original offering. Included in the Mesozoic menagerie is a large sea turtle called an Archelon that lumbers its way to the sea in a torpid manner; a battle between a gigantic Ceratosaurus ( scaled to T. Rex proportions ) and a huge Triceratops, and a fight between Pterosaurs while Ms. Welch is clutched in one's talons. The highlight of the stop-motion ensemble is the small Allosaurus that reeks havoc in the Shell Tribe's camp. This creature is almost a carbon copy of a carnosaur he did many years earlier in 16mm footage. It is killed in an excellent coup de grace, impaled on a pole that is a marvel of miniature rear-projection work. Starring Raquel Welch ( not her first movie role ) and John Richardson as the lovers Loana and Tumak, they represent the "beautiful people" of eons past. The storyline is almost nonexistent here: Tumak is ostracized from the Rock Tribe and wanders the wilderness until he is taken in by the Shell Tribe. Booted out after nearly killing one of its members, he wanders again with Loana in tow. After many encounters with human and animal perils they arrive at the Rock Tribe's camp to attack Tumak's evil brother ( who deposed his dad in a brutal manner ). As the attack is underway, a nearby volcano violently erupts and utterly destroys the landscape. Martine Beswick and Percy Herbert co-star in this feature. Directed by Don Chaffy, who worked with Harryhausen earlier on JASON AND THE ARGONAUTS. The movie was shot on the Canary Island of Lanzarote and on sets back in England. In spite of the superficial story and the use of contrived "words" as a pigeon language, ONE MILLION YEARS B.C. is an exciting film with plenty of Mesozoic menances and Raquel to please the eyes. Only unsuitable for very young children ( < 5 yrs. of age )."