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After a confrontation with the tribe’s leader, a man is made outcast from the Stone People. His life is later saved by a beautiful blonde woman from the Shell People. They make an instant connection, but their ways are different. The Shell People are more civilised, and when they cross paths with the Stone People a battle ensues. However, with strange predatory creatures all around them in an ever-changing dangerous environment, they have a greater, common enemy...
It’s a number of years since I last saw One Million Years B.C. It’s one of those films where the public conception lives on in your memory, rather than the actual plot, characters and movie itself. So, this is the one in which Raquel Welch runs around for an hour and a half in a furry bikini! It’s a misconception, because there is no great parading of her sexuality – any more than you would find in other examples from this era. The movie poster is actually a publicity photograph of her, and this is what has ended up in everyone’s subconscious mind: Bikini woman runs screaming from plastic dinosaurs!
In more than a few aspects this does the film a great disservice. Okay, so the plot isn’t brilliant; but what do you expect from prehistoric man: soliloquys from Shakespeare? A set-in-their-ways tribe meets a more mentally and socially advanced tribe. They clash, before coming together towards a greater goal. You could argue that this is a ‘rites of passage’ for mankind, and certainly for the more backward tribe. However, essentially it’s a bit of fun, as most people will be aware that man and prehistoric dinosaurs did not co-exist. I say ‘prehistoric’ because otherwise some overly pedantic wise-guy is going to argue that some dinosaurs exist today (turtles, rhinos, etc.)!
The costumes are actually very well made. Faux animal skins which look like they have been knife-scraped of fur. Though it’s more logical to assume they would have wrapped themselves entirely in animal skins for warmth, and shrugged them off to hunt naked. But that would be a totally different film! The sound effects are a little monotonous at times, like a pensioner clicking his false teeth, or an old fashioned typewriter clacking away incessantly. There is one particular sound reminiscent of a locomotive… The music score is iconic in contrast, and I wouldn’t be surprised if John Williams said it had influenced his incidental music on Star Wars.
The most outstanding aspect of this film is Ray Harryhausen’s brilliant stop motion effects. During the course of the movie we are entertained by a giant lizard, turtle and spider. We also get a Brontosaurus and a Triceratops fighting, a Ceratosaurus, an Allosaurus and a flying Pteranodon. Phew! It is these sequences in particular which have made One Million Years B.C. so famous. Let’s face it, Ray Harryhausen was a special effects genius in the days before CGI, with a career spanning from the original Mighty Joe Young right up to Clash of the Titans in the 1980s. This movie was Hammer Films’ biggest commercial success, which was a fine way to celebrate their 100th production.
This 50th anniversary release features a 4K restoration, along with interviews with Raquel Welch, bond girl Martine Beswick, storyboards and artwork from Harryhausen’s extensive collection, plus for the first time storyboards depicting an unfilmed Brontosaurus sequence.
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