"When it comes to time, we are prisoners."
cookieman108 | Inside the jar... | 05/13/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I wonder how many minds were blown back in the day when George Pal's The Time Machine (1960) was released? I'm not so much speaking of the special effects (which were, and still are amazing), but more so the concepts presented within the film, with regards to traveling in the fourth dimension i.e. moving back and forth through time all while occupying the same space throughout...I know, I know, the ideas had been around for some time as author H.G. Wells had created the work the film was based on way back around the turn of the 20th century, but surely the film reached a large audience, quite a few probably never having read his novel. Produced and directed by George Pal (When Worlds Collide, The War of the Worlds), a pioneer in fantasy and sci-fi cinema, the film stars Rod Taylor (World Without End, The Birds), in what is probably his best-known role as George, a scientist with a hankering to break on through to the other side. Also appearing is Alan Young, whom many may recognize as the voice for Disney's Scrooge McDuck (he also was the only actor from the original film to appear in the recent 2002 remake starring Guy Pearce), Yvette Mimieux (Where the Boys Are, The Black Hole), Tom Helmore (Vertigo), Whit Bissell (Airport, Soylent Green), and Sebastian Cabot (Kismet), whom many may remember as the rotund Mr. French from the late 60's television show `Family Affair'.
The story begins in Victorian England with the arrival of a group of distinguished looking gentlemen to the home of their colleague George, played Rod Taylor. Thing is, George invited them for dinner, but has yet to appear himself, that is until he busts through the door, disheveled and unkempt, with what may be the most fantastic tale any one has ever heard, which takes us back five days prior as George, who's an inventor by the way, is having the same group over to reveal his latest invention, a machine that would allow for one to travel backwards and forwards through time. It's all theoretical as the device has yet to be tested, and George is met with skepticism by all except for one, his friend Filby (Young). Anyway, after the guests leave, George decides it's time to put his machine to the test, and what do you know? It Works! One should know the impetus for George's desire to travel forward in time is based on his dissatisfaction with the current state of human development, specifically out penchant for fighting with each other, and he desires to see a world without conflict, among other things. As he goes forward he stops a few times but that which he wishes to avoid continually presents itself, eventually driving him into the year 800,000 where the world has become an Eden-like paradise populated by people called the Eloi. There is no need to work, no laws, no gooberment, just a carefree lifestyle...with a hideous underbelly in the form of a group called the Morlocks, grotesque underground dwellers who are, well, what they are and share a chilling relationship with the Eloi...
I found this film to be great fun, and one of the best science fictions films I've seen in a long time. As far as its faithfulness to the source material, I couldn't really tell you, but I did get the feel that there was a lot of respect involved towards Wells' vision, especially given the film focused a great deal on the moral aspects and implications of who we are and how they may affect future generations. This, along with superior special effects (which earned the film an Academy Award for 1960) really helped sell the film overall. Some of the effects may seem quaint by today's standards, but back in the day this had to have been cutting edge stuff. The passage of time indicated by all the meticulous stop motion work, among other things, looks amazing. I also really liked the whole `Victorian' feel of the time machine itself, a sense that it was truly created within the time period specified. I thought Taylor did very well presenting a man driven by his desire to find the best in humanity, only to discover the more things change, the more they tend to stay the same. It felt like there was real growth from within the character, growth that stemmed from experiencing so much in so little time. I especially liked the character of Alan Young as Filby as to me he represented sort of the general populous of society, those who live their lives day to day, living within their world, content to make things better through small steps than great strides. I can't remember the specific dialog, but there was a scene that illustrated this well in where Filby tries to convince George to destroy his machine and makes a remark with regards to how we have to live within our time and make the best of it that we can...
Warner Brothers provides an excellent wide screen (1.66:1) transfer on this DVD. The colors are sharp and vibrant, and the picture quality nearly flawless. The audio, available in both English (Dolby Digital 5.1), French (Dolby Digital 2.0), comes through clean and clear. There are some special features, including a theatrical trailer and cast and crew bios. Also included is a 47 minute documentary that looks like it was made for television broadcast as there's obvious stopping points for the inclusion of commercials. The piece, titled The Time Machine: The Journey Back, is hosted by the star of the original film Rod Taylor (looking much older), and offers a lot of details about the film, but the main focus seems to be on the machine itself, how it was developed, created, and its long and curious history after production on the original film ceased. This takes up most of the 47 minute running time, with what is left used to create a sort of reunion tale as some of the original actors resume their character roles for a short bit. I found this extra to be really interesting, and it helped me to appreciate the film even more, but I did feel it got a little schmaltzy (even creepy) at times, especially when Taylor would look up in the air and speak like he was talking to producer and director George Pal, who passed away in 1980, and I think this featurette was shot in 1993.
Oh, in case you're interested, there is no formal seating in the future, only throw pillows, so if you ever get a chance to travel forward in time, BYOC (bring your own chair)...
The Time Machine DVD Delivers
Blackhawk | Huntsville, AL USA | 10/09/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Like most people, I had only seen this classic science fiction movie on television. That never detracted from the story, which is one of the best that Wells wrote, but it didn't prepare me for how great this movie looks and sounds. The DVD provides brilliant color and a generally sharp picture with only a little, infrequent softness that I suspect is from the original film. I was surprised at how clean the transfer is. I did not see any scratches, dust or other defects. The movie is presented in its original, widescreen aspect ratio. The sound is also excellent. It has been remastered in Dolby Digital 5.1 and it is an excellent job for a movie that is forty years old. As you would expect from such an old sound track, most of the action is in the center and front channels, but it uses the rear channels (especially noticable in key scenes, as when Rod Taylor is making echoes in the ruined dome building) and the subwoofer kicked in a few times, also. The disc provides more extras than you would expect from a Warner release of an old movie. It includes a trailer, filmographies for the three lead actors and George Pal, and a very good behind-the-scenes documentary. The documentary was produced by Bob Burns 32 years after the making of the movie and focuses on the important part the time machine prop played in the making of the movie and it's history since, with an interesting account of how Burns found and then restored the original prop. The documentary also features a scene in which Rod Taylor and Alan Young recreate their characters from the movie, acting out a scene that might have appeared in the movie but did not. The scene uses the restored time machine prop to good effect and it was rather touching to see these much older actors slip so comfortably into their roles. You could tell that this movie had been one of the high points of their careers and they remembered it fondly. Likewise, Whit Bissel recreates his character in a short monologue full of a sense of nostalgia. This old documentary was much more informative and interesting than a lot of the publicity puff pieces included on more recent films as extras. I highly recommend this DVD. It delivers far more than I ever expected and does this classic movie justice."
George Pal's 1960 Version Is Still The Best
SirGeorgeMartini | Chihuahua Legs, Wyoming | 10/14/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I know it's dated, but that doesn't keep it from being a decent and entertaining film. George Pal's version closely follows H.G. Well's book written in in 1895, except for a few changes. In the movie, the Eloi are normal sized people with blonde hair that can speak, instead of being much smaller and mute. The Morlocks resemble Troll dolls with light bulb eyes that make them seem less sinister than the book does. Weena, the female Eloi that almost drowned, is captured and eaten in the book, but Pal kept her alive so there was a reason for Rod Taylor to return to this time in the future."
A classic film of the greatest short story ever written
SirGeorgeMartini | 06/13/1999
(5 out of 5 stars)
"The film version succeeds in retaining much of the charm of the short story. The open scene of a dinner amongst friends in a civilized English gentleman's house is very well done and the time travelling special effects were remarkable for the time. Wells wrote the book in 1895 - and by keeping the setting at that date (and not updating to the decade of films release - 1960s) we can enjoy seeing the reaction of the traveller to events that we know very well - such as the First and Second World War - and the nuclear age. Thus helping to ensure that the fantastic events that are to come are quite believable. The film strays a little in the characterisation of Weena (a member of the Eloi people and the travellor's love interest) - but the carnivorous Morlocks are still quite scary and have even been known to frighten a few of todays kids, who have seen most things at the movies.A 5 star movie for those who enjoy classic science fiction. Ranks alongside 'Forbidden Planet', and 'Invasion of the Body Snatchers' for its ability to provoke thought as well as to entertain."