First Men In The Moon (1964)

This was a delightful film, filled with truly spectacular special effects. Actually, the Special Features documentary on Ray Harryhausen, the creator of the film’s stop-motion animation effects, was a highlight of the disc.  Harryhausen created the memorable effects on films like Clash of the Titans, the Sinbad series, Jason & The Argonauts, 1 Million Years B.C. etc. I’ve said many times on this blog that I love older special effects because they are raw and unadulterated by digital manipulation.  Needless to say, I’m adding a few of these, that I haven’t seen lately, to my queue. I remember watching Clash of the Titans as a child, with that frightening Medusa scene, and it’ll be great to see it again.

The main thing I want to say about this film is that it has an interesting moral at the end. I haven’t read H.G. Wells’ original story so I don’t know if the film correlates with what he was getting at also, but I find it infinitely amusing that Humans were able to contaminate and exterminate the inhabitants of the Moon with a simple cold.   I say amusing not because I think it’s funny, because it’s not. But amusing because “we” have cross-contaminated many civilizations throughout the ages. Smallpox from the Americas back to Europe, syphyllis from Europe to the Americas (or maybe it was the other way around).  Regardless, the point is that this film (and its corresponding novel) documents the deleterious effects of our explorations and colonizations on the unknown. 

Mel Gibson’s film, Apocalypto, comes to mind because in the final shot of the film, the viewer knows what will happen. An “A” for dramatic irony for that one.  And, in First Men In The Moon, it is also the final moment of the film that reveals the secret, though this secret occured 60 years ago, not in the next hour. What I mean by this is that the Professor’s cold killed the Moon people 60 years ago; therefore the tragedy happened in the past, though the biggest travesty is that the Moon people are extinct for everyone in the “present.”  In the final shot of Apocalypto, the Mayan civilizations still have an hour before the Spanish/Portugese  arrive on shore, though they have no concept of who they are or what they’ll do to them.  Same thing with the Moon people. It was assumed that the Moon people were the threat to the Humans, but it was the other way around. Same thing with the Native Mayan tribes and the Spanish/Portugese.  

For both films, the sentiment is the same: apocalypse back then, or apocalypse now.  Either way, annihilation of culture means everyone loses out in the present.

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