Take off your cultural blinders...the one you put on when you watch a "trashy" movie...and think about what you are actually experiencing as you watch this movie. Is it merely a "trash" entertainment? To be sure, Raquel Welch in her furkini, the now quaint quality of the Harryhausen effects, the girl fight between Raquel and Martine Beswick, all provide the frisson of "trash" delight. But this movie is much more than that, a tour de force of imagination, and a heartbreaking work of staggering genius. The vision of man adrift in a hostile universe, at odds with his fellow creatures, his own untamed emotions, and the apocalyptic earth itself, is haunting and beautiful. Our only hope is Raquel, who offers a transcendent vision of peace and love--without uttering a word.
Special kudos to the music. Where the special effects strain against their limits, as in the terrifying pterodactyl attack and the final upheaval, the music carries home the emotion. I am reminded of Schopenhauer: "The internal relation that music has to the true nature of all things can also explain the fact that, when music suitable to any scene, action, event, or environment is played, it seems to disclose to us its utmost secret meaning and appears to be the most accurate and distinct commentary on it." In a film where words matter so little, the music is especially crucial. As you watch the pterodactyl snatch Raquel and carry her off to feed its young while the other humans watch in helpless dismay, listen to the music, and think about the "utmost secret meaning" of what you are witnessing. This is an artistic moment of astounding ambition, and there are many such moments throughout this sustained meditation on man and the universe.
A few years later, the same team made Creatures the World Forgot, a more "realistic" look at prehistoric survival sans dinosaurs, with a Cain and Abel story that is riveting...and my god, the cave people are hot!
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