• Journey To The Center Of The Earth



    Released by: Twilight Time Releasing
    Released on: March, 2015.
    Director: Harry Levin
    Cast: Pat Boone, James Mason, Arlene Dahl, Diane Baker, Alan Napier
    Year: 1959
    Purchase From Screen Archives

    The Movie:

    Directed by Harry Levin in 1959 and based on the novel of the same name by Jules Verne, Journey To The Center Of The Earth, made decades before CGI took over the special effects industry of mainstream Hollywood, stands the test of time very well indeed.

    The timeless story follows Sir Oliver S. Lindenbrook (James Mason), a professor who teams up with one of his students, Alec McKuen (Pat Boone), who discover by chance a message hidden in a rock given to the elder man by his protégé that indicates that there may be a tunnel in Iceland of all places that will lead to the center of the Earth. The two pack up and hit the roads as quick as you’d imagine, but are cut off at the pass by Professor Peter Goetabaug (Ivan Triesault), Lindenbrook’s rival in the geology world. Just as it looks like they’ll never escape the trap Goetabaug has caught them in, a native named Hans (Peter Ronson) springs them and shortly after they discover that someone or something has killed their foe!

    Bound and determined to find the opening, the team carries on, now with some help from Goetabaug’s widow, Carla (Arlene Dahl), who is willing to exchange Peter’s gear in return for a share in the exploration. With the team now more or less in place, they head towards the area they believe the opening is in, and head towards the center of the Earth itself. Of course, they’re not alone…

    A very inspired work of fantasy, this film has to it an innocence best described as charming. The effects hold up well but are definitely a product of their time, but again, that will for many viewers be a big reason to watch this in the first place. Here we see some genuinely artistic interpretations from those tasked with the set design as to how the center of our very planet might look! Great use of color once our team heads ‘inside’ really does a great job of catching your eyes and keeping your attention while the amusing characters are easy to like and admire in their unfettering bravery. Of course, it throws science fact out the window (along with a strict adherence to the source material) in favor of what is obviously science fiction but that doesn’t matter so much when you’re dealing in fantasy. Realism isn’t needed when the filmmakers are going for pure escapism, and that’s pretty much exactly what this film delivers.

    In addition to the fantastic visuals the movie also benefits from a great score courtesy of none other than Bernard Herrmann. Heavy on organ music it’s a selection of rousing compositions that heighten the tension, drama and sense of adventure inherent in the film quite perfectly. Throw in some great performances from an intense James Mason and, yeah, a fairly milquetoast Pat Boone (say what you will be he works well in the context of the character he is cast as here) and those responsible for bringing the characters to life fare well. Supporting work from Peter Ronson as the naïve Icelander and lovely Arlene Dahl round out the cast nicely. The characters might not be written with tons of depth but this cast plays them well.

    Video/Audio/Extras:

    Twilight Time presents Journey To The Center Of The Earth on Blu-ray in an impressive 2.35.1 widescreen presentation in AVC encoded 1080p high definition. While some shots do look softer than others and some mild edge enhancement pops up in some shots, typically the picture is nice and film-like without much in the way of obvious digital manipulation. Detail looks excellent in the close up shots and a bit softer in medium and some long distance shots while colors are consistently bright, bold and beautifully defined without ever edging over into looking oversaturated. Black levels are strong and print damage is never much of a problem at all. There are no obvious issues with noise reduction while depth and clarity are strong throughout the film.

    The only audio option provided is an English language DTS-HD 4.0 track but it’s a very good one. Levels are very nicely balanced and there are no problems at all with any hiss or distortion. Herrmann’s score sounds nice and clarity is strong from start to finish. There’s good depth and presence to the audio here and it sounds fantastic. No alternate language options or subtitles are provided.

    As far as the extras go, the main bonus feature here is the inclusion of the aforementioned Herrmann score in DTS-HD 2.0. It’s a great piece of work and it sounds nice and clear here on this isolated score option. Aside from that we also get a trailer for the feature, an alternate Spanish trailer for the feature, static menus and chapter selection. Julie Kirgo once again contributes a nice selection of liner notes that show a genuine appreciation for the film and offer up a nice assortment of trivia and production history information – always worth a read. Some nice archival images are used to illustrate the booklet.

    The Final Word:

    Journey To The Center Of The Earth holds up quite well as a genuinely engaging family friendly adventure film and Twilight Time’s Blu-ray looks and sounds quite good. If it’s a bit light on extras, this is still the best that the movie has ever looked on home video, which should be reason enough for most fans to want to upgrade.

    Click on the images below for full sized Blu-ray screen caps!