Lively, entertaining reviews of, and essays on, old and newer films and everything relating to them, written by professional author William Schoell.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

WHERE TIME BEGAN aka THE FABULOUS JOURNEY TO THE CENTRE OF THE EARTH

WHERE TIME BEGAN (aka The Fabulous Journey to the Centre of the Earth/1977). Director: Juan Piquer Simon.

In 1898 Hamburg Professor Otto Lindenbrock (Kenneth More) discovers an old book that details a trip into the interior of the earth by one Arne Saknussemm. With his niece Glauben (Ivonne Sentis), her boyfriend Axel (Pep Munne), and a shepherd named Hans (Frank Brana), he descends into an extinct volcano and discovers giant mushrooms, living sail-back reptiles, mammoth turtles, a giant ape a la King Kong, and an underground sea full of slimy rubber monsters with big teeth This is a low-budget Spanish version of Verne's novel, which makes quite a few changes [the professor has a niece instead of a nephew] but in some ways is more faithful than the vastly superior 1959 Hollywood version. At least the cavern scenes aren't over-lit as in the Hollywood film, and there are some good sets and effective sequences. This version adds another character, Olsen (Jack Taylor), who shows up inside the earth, appears to be some kind of time traveler, and at one point shows his companions a futuristic laboratory in a cavern in which all of the workers look just like him -- this is never explained and adds nothing to the movie but confusion. The special effects throughout are variable, with no process shots combining man with monster. The cast is all right, with Sentis and Munne making an attractive couple. Ultimately, the whole production is somewhat tedious and unmemorable. Simon later directed another Verne adaptation, Mystery on Monster Island, which was somewhat better.

Verdict: A C+ for effort and a C- for execution. **.
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