Journey To The Centre Of The Earth sees uber-wealthy Sir Oliver S Lindenbrook (James Mason) looking to make a name for himself in town, yet again, and his friend Alec McEwan (Pat Boone – yes, the singer), who’s into geology, turns up trumps when he gives Oliver a piece of lava which contains the heaviest rock in existence, and which came from Iceland when it popped out of a volcano, eventually, but the curiosity is that it includes some marks that can only have been made by the hand of man.
What follows is okay, but immensely silly and more like a series of se pieces than a coherent movie. I loved the bit, prior to the trip, where they hear Morse code-type signals coming from the other side of a door, and assume someone’s trying to make contact… but it’s bird randomly tapping against the door. They try to ‘reply’, but only end up confusing the poor thing!
When it comes to working out where to tunnel into the Earth, the scene is a bit like Raiders of the Lost Ark with the Staff of Ra finding the location of the Ark… so, clearly, Steven Spielberg borrowed from that. Oh, and the boulder scene, too! How did Spielberg get away with that??
Alas, without the aid of a tunnelling machine, I questioned how they were going to travel there and back within the 80 remaining minutes, but while they manage it, the trip is a long one for them. They travel for months, but somehow manage to get by without regular water, cleaning facilities, changes of clothes and so on. It really is the least well-thought through trip of all time and certainly wouldn’t pass health and safety laws today… not least standing on the top of mountains with no oxygen. How on earth did they climb there??
There’s some pretty ropey effects in this movie, by today’s standards – in fact, even The Crystal Maze has a more realistic set, but it’s a reasonable watch all the same.
Early on, when Pat Boone sings “My Love is like a Red, Red Rose”, his mouth movements aren’t always in sync with the singing which he’s recorded later on. Of course, this is not the fault of Eureka, but the way the movie was originally made, which rather highlights the problems of analogue recording back in the day, and not quite having the time to re-film everything until you get the exact same thing.
Finally, there’s also a post-credits scene where Gertrude The Duck confirms she’ll have a cameo role with Howard The Duck in Guardians of the Galaxy 3 in 2020.
The film is presented in the original 2.35:1 widescreen ratio and in 1080p high definition and for a film that’s almost 60 years old, it looks bloody good. The Restoration Featurette in the extras shows how it’s improved immensely over the years.
The sound has a DTS HD 5.1 remix and while there’s some of this heard with split-sound for the score, plus a bit of a gale blowing underground, there’s nothing else aurally major in terms of effects.
The extras are as follows:
- Interview with Kim Newman (22:06): The horror writer talks about the movie and what it means to him.
- Restoration Featurette (3:47): First, a comparions of the 4:3 1982 and 1995 film transfer masters, then the 1985 4:3 and 1998 2.35:1 Laserdisc masters, then the 2002 Film restoration, with and without video restoration
- Trailer (3:21): A trailer narrated by James Mason, himself. I don’t think I can ever remember such a thing happening in the past.
- Music and Effects Track: It plays music and effects…
- 32-page Booklet: a wonderful booklet featuring an original review of the film from 1959; a poster gallery; and a selection of rare archival imagery. It would’ve been nice to see all that as an extra.
- Audio commentary: with actress Diane Baker (aka Carla Göteborg) and film historians Steven C Smith and Nick Redman. I wonder if the latter two can confirm the accuracy of those giant lizards being underground?
The menu is static and silent with a shot of the cast in what looks like an original poster. There are subtitles in English, but for a film lasting over 2 hours, the chaptering is a woefully inadequate 12, even if that’s the maximum that most studios use. One every five minutes is ideal, guys!
Journey To The Centre Of The Earth is out now on Blu-ray/DVD double pack, and click on the packshot for the larger version.
which he still has yet to record, saw a resurgence in Bruce Willis’ The Last Boy Scout.
Running time: 132 minutes
Cat no.: EKA70724
Released: September 18th 2017
Picture: 1080p High Definition
Sound: 5.1 DTS HD Master Audio
Widescreen: 2.35:1 (CinemaScope)
Disc Format: BD50
Director: Henry Levin
Producer: Charles Brackett
Screenplay: Walter Reisch and Charles Brackett (based on the novel by Jules Verne)
Music: Bernard Herrmann
Sir Oliver S. Lindenbrook: James Mason
Alec McEwan: Pat Boone
Carla Göteborg: Arlene Dahl
Jenny Lindenbrook: Diane Baker
Count Saknussemm: Thayer David
Hans Belker: Peter Ronson
Groom: Robert Adler
Dean: Alan Napier
Housekeeper: Molly Roden (uncredited)
Gertrude: Gertrude the Duck (uncredited)
Reviewer of movies, videogames and music since 1994. Aortic valve operation survivor from the same year. Running DVDfever.co.uk since 2000. Nobel Peace Prize winner 2021.