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The Land That Time Forgot (1975)
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Details At A Glance
Main Menu Audio-Extract from film's score.
Theatrical Trailer-Godzilla vs Ebirah - Horror of the Deep (2:18) 2.35:1, 16x9.
Theatrical Trailer-Godzilla : Invasion of Astro-Monster (2:24) : 2.35:1, 4x3.
Theatrical Trailer-Howl's Moving Castle (1:40) : 1.78:1, 4x3.
Theatrical Trailer-Transformers : The Movie (1:40) : Animated 1.78:1, 4x3.
Year Of Production
||Cast & Crew
NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.
A recent release from Madman Entertainment is the 1975 sci-fi / action adventure, The Land That Time Forgot. I must begin this review by commenting on the transfer, because that has an enormous effect on my appreciation of the movie. This film, though not filmed in a CinemaScope or Panavasion process, was made to be seen on a wide screen, at the approximate ratio of 1.85:1. Sadly Madman have given us a 1.33:1 aspect ratio image, in a 4x3 transfer. I can see absolutely no point in releasing any film in an aspect ratio other than that originally utilised. In today's world of ubiquitous widescreen television, we have in this release a print that is probably the same as that shown on weekend afternoon television twenty or thirty years ago. In the United States The Land That Time Forgot is available in the MGM Midnite Movies Double Feature series, coupled with its sequel The People That Time Forgot, starring Patrick Wayne and with Doug McClure reprising his role from the first film.. On this Region 1 release both films are widescreen and 16x9 enhanced, and Amazon's price for the double-sided disc is less than US $6. Madman's RRP for their single disc release is AU$24.35 !
By the mid-70s the British production company Amicus had produced a string of successful low-budget omnibus horror movies. The company decided to branch out into the larger scaled fantasy/adventure genre, and producer John Dark and director Kevin Connor (Beyond the Grave) turned to the works of the creator of Tarzan, Edgar Rice Burroughs. The B grade blonde American actor Doug McClure (TV's The Virginian) was contracted for five UK sci-fi cheapies, The Land That Time Forgot (1975), At the Earth's Core (1976), The People That Time Forgot (1977), Warlords of Atlantis (1978) and Humanoids from the Deep (1980). The first three of these were based on the works of Edgar Rice Burroughs. Though he was not a great writer, he did spin an extravagant and exciting yarn, and here we get a film that is big on incident and aspiration.
In the film's opening a canister is tossed from a cliff into the sea. It contains the fantastic tale that is about to unfold, told by the author of the canister's contents, Bowen Tyler (McClure). The time is 1916 and Tyler is a passenger on a freighter which is sunk by a German U-boat. Only one other passenger survives, British biologist Lisa Clayton (Susan Penhaligon), along with a number of the crew led by First Mate Bradley (Keith Barron). From their lifeboat the survivors manage to capture (!) the German U-boat, seizing command from its Captain von Schoenvorts (John McEnery, dubbed by the more Germanic Anton Diffring), and his surly first officer Lt Dietz (Dr Who's "baddie" Anthony Aisley). Command is lost, command is regained but eventually an unchartered "island" is stumbled upon. This must be the "lost continent of Caprona", a supposedly mythological land that had not been sighted for two hundred years. The submarine traverses an underground tunnel into the land, and a prehistoric world is discovered in which dinosaurs roam, pterodactyls soar and humanoid savages exhibit various stages of human evolution. The common threats unite those on board the submarine, as the hazards of this land that time forgot are faced.
The script, based on the original by Edgar Rice Burroughs, comes from Michael Moorcock and James Cawthorn. This is comic book adventure, and most of the dialogue is puerile. The female biologist is repeatedly used as the device to explain the mysteries of "the land". If she said "That must mean ..." ONE MORE TIME!! The direction is pretty pedestrian, and the acting is weak. Continuity is often poor, especially in the integration of stock footage into the main. Special effects are sometimes OK, while at others laughable. The pterodactyls are unmoving kites without any trace of life! The colour varies from brightly vivid, particularly once we are in the forgotten land, to rather murky grainy shots of the submarine at sea. Stock footage? The volcano finale has some pretty coloured fog floating around. One very big plus is the selectively utilised score. With big orchestrations, and a variety of themes, the score by Australian expatriate Douglas Gamley (Spring and Port Wine / The Beast Must Die) is soaring, exciting and superior to the film it embellishes. Gamley's score is used selectively, allowing some action sequences to speak for themselves. There is a large early section of the film totally without any score. When the music does enter it has so much more impact, particularly when it is a superior score, such as this.
For what it is, a B Grade sci-fi action tale with a recognizable actor in the lead, it is entertaining fare. For its eighty-seven minutes there is enough drama and action to keep your attention. The first section of the film is an enjoyable wartime survivor yarn and then we are plunged into the fantastical aspects of the tale, where the special effects are enjoyable, if mainly for the wrong reasons. However, this is a drive-in movie, and made to be seen on the drive-in's wide screen - any wide screen. Please, no more 1.33:1 releases of movies made to be seen at a wider ratio.
Note : I have ordered the Midnite Movie double from Amazon, so at present do not have the two transfers to compare. However I have made a careful comparison of framed blow-ups from the film with the image on the Madman release, and there is definitely a loss of image both sides of the original frame.
Don't wish to see plot synopses in the future? Change your configuration.
The quality of the image in this transfer is quite acceptable, but the format is not.
The transfer is presented in an aspect ratio of 1.33:1, without enhancement. The original ratio was 1.85:1.
The transfer is generally clear and sharp, with the major exception being some probably stock footage used of a submarine, as well as some of the process shots.
There is a fair amount of grain, but shadow detail is quite good, particularly in the jungle scenes.
Low level noise was at a minimum.
The colour varied from extremely vivid, to almost monochrome in some of the submarine shots. Skin tones varied, but generally were appropriate.
Aliasing was only observed once, with MPEG artefacts well controlled.
Film artefacts are generally limited to white flecking, and the occasional negative scratch (59:58). Flecking was more frequent early in the film, but into about the third reel almost totally disappeared for quite some time. This flecking was only minor, and the film had to be viewed frame by frame to really detect it.
This is an RSDL disc, with the layer change occurring at 50:41, with an image freeze for about one second.
Video Ratings Summary
The audio is quite satisfactory mono.
There is one audio track on this DVD, English Dolby Digital 2.0 mono encoded at 224 Kbps.
The dialogue was clear and easy to understand at all times. Extensive looping was involved due to the dubbing of John McEnery. The dubbing was done very well, but there was an unreal feel to some of his scenes, particularly one lengthy dialogue exchange between McEnery and Susan Penhaligon. Apart from this there were no sync problems.
There was a very slight background hiss in some scenes, and the occasional crackle and pop, but no dropouts.
The outstanding musical score by Australian expatriate Douglas Gamley was given very handsome mono reproduction, but how much better it would have been in, at least, stereo.
Basically the soundtrack is in fine shape and delivers surprisingly effective mono sound.
Audio Ratings Summary
|Surround Channel Use|
All you get is a collection of four trailers - not including The Land That Time Forgot.
Main Menu The main menu is extremely simple, utilising the vibrantly coloured artwork from the slick, plus audio of a section of Douglas Gamley's score. There is no animation.
The options presented are : Play
Scenes : Selection brings up two separate screens, each with six thumbnails, without audio.
Madman Propaganda : Four trailers which are detailed below.
Godzilla vs Ebirah - Horror of the Deep (2:18) :
The trailer of this Japanese production is in quite lovely colour, and given a 2.35:1, 16x9 enhanced transfer. It certainly looks like an odd one, with Offenbach's "Can Can" used during a King Kong style monster attack. Excellent condition.
Godzilla : Invasion of Astro-Monster (2:24) :
Again we have a 2.35:1 image, but this time in a 4x3 transfer. Good colour and condition. Nonsense about Godzilla, spacecraft and aliens - and poor Nick Adams (Rebel Without a Cause) is in it!
Howl's Moving Castle (1:40) :
We all now this is an outstanding animated movie. With a 1.78:1 image, and a 4x3 transfer. Excellent condition and colour.
Transformers : The Movie (1:40) :
An animated Asian effort, presented at 1.78:1 in a 4x3 transfer.
R4 vs R1
NOTE: To view
non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually
also NTSC compatible.
The Region 1 MGM release in their Midnite Movies Double Feature series has The Land That Time Forgot paired with its sequel, The People That Time Forgot, on a double-sided disc. Both films are 1.85:1 and 16x9 enhanced, and the theatrical trailers of both films are an added feature. Reviews have commented on the extremely improved transfer of the first film, and the even better image for the second film. Amazon lists this double feature at US $5.99. I have already ordered my copy.
Even if you harbour affectionate youthful memories of this film, this release is not worth buying. As a B-grade fantasy/adventure yarn it is escapist fun, and enjoyable, if often for the wrong reasons. Sadly the 1.33:1 transfer spoils the film for me. If your player is multi-region, and you really want this movie, get the Region 1 Midnite Movies Double Feature release. Sorry Madman!
© Garry Armstrong (BioGarry)
Thursday, November 05, 2009
|DVD||SONY BLU RAY BDP-S350, using HDMI output|
|Display||Samsung LA55A950D1F : 55 inch LCD HD.
Calibrated with THX Optimizer. This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 1080p.
|Audio Decoder||Built in to DVD player.
Calibrated with THX Optimizer.
|Speakers||VAF DC-X fronts; VAF DC-6 center; VAF DC-2 rears; LFE-07subwoofer (80W X 2)|