Saturday, July 31, 2010

ONE MILLION YEARS B.C. (Don Chaffey, 1966)

The violent Rock tribe is subsumed by their blonde haired and blue eyed superiors, anthropogenic intercessors who shall inherit the Earth. Once scientific fact is rejected and disbelief suspended, the film can be enjoyed as more than a guilty pleasure because director Don Chaffey utilizes visually interesting camera angles, articulated rubber monstrosities and bleak locations to hold audience attention for the duration of this mute melodrama.

The absurd plot involves two tribes of Homo antecessor who display a seemingly inbred violent disposition, practicing social Darwinism to its extreme. The hirsute Rock tribe is a foul collection of brutes and brunettes, while the well manicured Shell gang comb their golden locks and judiciously use teeth whitener. Tumak is the Rock outcast who develops a crush on Loana (and who wouldn‘t, Raquel Welch is a freakin‘ knockout!), the bikini clad delegate of the disparate tribe. Chaffey has the difficult task of creating drama without dialogue, employing omniscient voice over narration to introduce the epochal epic. Communication is relegated to a few grunts and howls, but emotion is conveyed with rough physicality. Ray Harryhausen’s stop-motion creatures become the real stars of the story, their fluid life-like movement and reactions more realistic than the stoic acting. The Allosaurus attack is expertly choreographed and dramatically realized, and note the tortured gasping and stuttering heartbeat of the Dinosaur as it exhales its final breath. Or the giant Archelon shambling towards the ocean; it actually flinches when hit in the beak with a rock! These subtle details bring dimensionality and personality to the models, as if they were more than molded rubber…if only the same praise could be said of the acting.

The Earth finally exclaims its tremulous judgment, and the human species must work together in order to survive a savage world despite their differences. A prescient metaphor that we have yet to realize.

Final Grade: (C)

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