Wednesday, 22 May 2013

Mysterious Island (4 Stars)

Yet another classic Ray Harryhausen film. The film that I'm reviewing is the 1961 film version of the Jules Verne novel. As far as I know "Mysterious Island" has been filmed nine times, in 1916, 1929, 1941, 1951, 1961, 1973, 2005 and twice in 2012. Apart from this, the book was the main inspiration for the television series "Lost". I've read that a blatant hint is that a copy of the book is seen being read by someone in "Lost", but I'm still in the middle of the first season, so I can't comment any further. On a side note, it's always important to pay attention to what books film characters read on screen. It's never a random choice. The director always puts a book in a character's hand to give a message. For instance, in "Donnie Darko" Donnie's mother is seen in the garden reading Stephen King's "It". It would be interesting to see a list of books being read in films.

The film begins during the American Civil War in 1865. A small group of soldiers escape from a Confederate prison camp in Virginia by stealing a hot air balloon. They try to flee into Union territories, but a severe storm makes the balloon impossible to control, and it is swept far into the Pacific Ocean. Eventually they crash land on a volcanic island inhabited by giant creatures. These are animated with amazing precision by Ray Harryhausen. Late in the film, in the last half hour, Captain Nemo appears, who has been hiding on the island all this time. He tells them he has been working in secret, mutating creatures into giants in order to solve the world's hunger problem. But the clock is ticking. The volcano is due to erupt again, and they have to leave before they are killed.

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