Mysterious Island (1961) Blu-ray
To this day, Jules Verne’s Mysterious Island (1874) remains one of my favorite novels, and the Schneer-Harryhausen film adaptation (1961) is exciting escapist entertainment. I fondly remember watching the film on Chicago’s Family Classics (WGN), hosted by Frazier Thomas in the 70’s and 80’s. Harryhausen and Schneer bent the story a bit and added colossal beasts and removed the Orangutan, which would’ve been incredible, given Ray’s work on Mighty Joe Young (1949). I think an animated ape probably would’ve broken the budget. Mysterious Island holds up well today —Bernard Hermann’s sweeping score (Ray described as being “most dynamic”), a solid cast, Captain Harding’s narrative, gorgeous production design, and the steam-punk Nautilus and one of the best Nemo’s ever in Herbert Lom make this film grand fun. Only young Herbert Brown’s ridiculous pompadour hairdo dates the film.
Of course, Harryhausen’s creatures render this film a stop-motion classic. I could never figure out why there was a prehistoric flightless bird —a Phororhacus and a prehistoric ammonite, on the island inhabited with giant versions of other animals. There’s giant oysters, a giant crab and giant bees, but why are there prehistoric beasts present also? I guess it doesn’t matter.
Screen Archives and Twilight Time have released a new Blu-ray pressing of the film, and it’s limited to 3,000 copies. Remembering that I have regretted never purchasing the Criterion Sean Connery Bond Laserdiscs I snatched this puppy up like a sparrow on a french fry. The film looks terrific and it might be the best print I’ve seen. The colors certainly pop. However, one thing about Harryhausen films and blu-ray/HD. The improved video resolution also tends to reveal matte lines, changes in film grain, rear projection and other special effect artifacts. Why quibble? Pop in the film and enjoy.
I particularly like the uncompressed monaural audio track and the soundtrack isolation option. The score is just superb. And I like the “swooshy” noise when you change menus. Check out these links for additional information:
Rue Morgue #119. Jan/Feb 2012. This Island Ray, article by Mark R. Hasan.
WOW GREAT COLOR IMAGES HERE: http://www.dvdbeaver.com/film/DVDReview/myst-isle.htm