Director: Don Chaffey
Cast: Raquel Welch, John Richardson, Percy Herbert, Martine Beswick, Robert Brown
Running Time: 100 minutes
To mark the release of Hammer’s 100th film, on its 50th Anniversary, StudioCanal are releasing ONE MILLION YEARS B.C. in 4K to fully recapture the classic work done by the legendary Ray Harryhausen. The film follows Tumak (Richardson) who’s banished from his savage tribe and, after many encounters with large creatures/monsters, collapses and is found by Loana (Welch), who is from another tribe. The two eventually leave and battle more monsters before returning to Tumak’s tribe which has been taken over his brother Sakana (Herbert) who covets Loana himself.
Let’s get the obvious out-of-the-way, by today’s standards, these effects are bad. However, when you take into consideration that this film was released in 1966 then the work done by Harryhausen is amazing. If it wasn’t for the breakthrough special effects he has done here, many of the special effects that dominates cinema today wouldn’t have happened. Everyone has a huge debt to pay to Harryhausen because he widened the boundaries of what cinema can do by introducing monsters and having them interact with the actual actors.
This restoration captures the many creatures very well, adding a clear and well-defined aspect to them. Harryhausen’s stop motion work on the creatures/monsters, that range from a giant iguana to a Triceratops, are great and how he, even in the 60s, managed to mesh his work with the actors is impressive to this day. The film also gains from the restoration when the creatures aren’t on-screen, but with the many landscapes which are enhanced brilliantly. There’s a bleak colour scheme that dominates the early Tumak scenes, as he explores the land, which is nicely contrasted with the majestic greenery of Loana’s tribes land.
ONE MILLION YEARS B.C. is remembered for being one of the films to make a sex symbol of Raquel Welch, to the point where she graced a certain Andy Dufresne’s cell wall and shared a secret with him. The film, perhaps, gets somewhat overlooked now because it’s dated and the sophistication of special effects has developed in amazing ways. Yet, Ray Harryhausen remains as the founding father of special effects and this 4K restoration captures his work delightfully.
ONE MILLION YEARS B.C. is released by StudioCanal to mark its 50th Anniversary on Doubleplay DVD and Blu-ray on October 24th.