Saturday, November 23, 2019

A Charming Time-Travel Fantasy

Being very cognizant of my need to maintain my nerd credentials, one of the websites I frequent is the Tor science fiction site. One of their recent posts concerned a movie I hadn't heard of, a Czechoslovakian (therefore, somewhat old) science-fantasy film titled Cesta do pravěku, directed by Karel Zeman. The film begins with an adolescent boy finding a fossilized trilobite, and musing about seeing a live one, precipitating a dream sequence concerning of a Verne-esque voyage upstream and back through time in a 'magic cave'. It's a bit like the cast of Stand by Me starring in a less violence-fraught production of Jurassic Park. It's a leisurely paced film with a likeable ensemble, portraying plucky, resourceful kids engaged in a scholarly expedition. It's really a travelogue, with time, rather than distance, comprising the journey, and is a nice precursor to the BBC's wonderful Walking with Dinosaurs and Walking with Beasts series.

The prehistoric animals portrayed in the film are modeled after the paleoart of Zdeněk Burian, a personal favorite of mine (his paintings are gorgeous). The portrayal of these animals is woefully outdated, but comported with the science of the time. The dinosaurs look a bit hokey as well... the movie really shines when it depicts the mammals, and one terrible bird, of the Cenozoic Era- the models are more detailed than the dinosaur models, the action more convincing. The film nicely showcases such unsung prehistoric critters as Deinotherium and Uintatherium.

It's a fun watch for a paleo-enthusiast, and a nice low-key adventure/travel film... perfect for watching on a chilly Sunday morning in November after a night of drinking pivo

No comments: