Plot: What’s it about?
Warner Bros has recently been releasing a line of films on Blu-Ray under the umbrella of the Archive Collection. They have committed themselves to releasing rare films every week on Tuesday, and I commend them for taking this approach to film preservation. The variety of the films is staggering and a good example of how varied their choices have been would be their recent release of the 1956 science fiction film World Without End.
World Without End begins the film with video footage of a large nuclear blast, that is unexplained for a little while. The next scene shows that a rocket ship that was traveling towards Mars on an expedition with four crew members has fallen out of touch with Earth. On board are four scientists – John, Herbert, Hank, and Dr. Eldon Galbraithe. When their instruments begin to act strangely they crash land onto a planet. The men assume that they are looking at the “icy snow caps of Mars.” In reality, they have hit a time displacement field that has deposited the men over five hundred and thirty years into the future. In the future, men live underground due to the fallout and radiation from a severe nuclear war. Above ground there are mutated men who behave like Stone Age men and there are also large beastly insects. When the four men realize they are in a Earth they befriend the intelligent men that live underground, but some of the underground men begin to grow jealous of the masculinity of their ancient counterparts. The women also find themselves attracted to these scientists from five hundred years earlier. This leads to conflict.
It is hard to believe that our world has changed so much since this film came out on 1956. Preying on people’s fear of nuclear war and featuring extremely dated science, films from the science fiction hey-days of the Fifties are interesting to watch as a time capsule of a time when man had not already visited the moon and then decided to never go back again. The movie is good for a few reasons. It clocks in at just eighty minutes which is the ideal length for a film. It is absurd, funny, and interesting. It also allows us to see that what people of that generation feared most was not just a nuclear war, but a future where men are not as masculine and have become soft. People have not outgrown these fears but the world has changed tremendously since this film was made. If you are looking for an average film which serves as an excellent time capsule of a bygone era, this would be it.
Video: How’s it look?
Warner Bros. did a fantastic job on the transfer of the film using an MPEG 4 AVC codec of a new 2K restoration. Fans of the film should be very pleased with the meticulous attention to detail that this transfer has been given. This film was shot in CinemaScope with many wide angle shots so the Blu-Ray treatment brings out a lot in the film. The image is not quite as pleasing as some of their more recent releases, but I think their treatment of the film overall was extremely competent. Fine detail is good if not great, and the colors are vibrant and have that great look of films in the fifties. Fans will be pleased. This is another great example of the solid job that Warner Bros. are doing on their archival releases.
Audio: How’s it sound?
Warner Bros. have provided a DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 track that sounds good. As a mono mix front speakers are used for the entire mix. Clarity is solid. I did not detect any dropouts or notable hiss. The sound effects are as generic as they come and they fit what must be considered a somewhat generic film for its time.
Supplements: What are the extras?
Unfortunately Warner didn’t include any supplements on this disc (not even a trailer). So while the uptick in video and audio quality is nice, the lack of supplemental material might deter some.
The Bottom Line
World Without End is an enjoyable time capsule to a day and age where people just plan didn’t know nearly as much about outer space. It is a goofy film that preys upon fears that were relative to the post-nuclear age after World War II. I enjoyed the film despite its obvious ridiculous nature in our time now. Fans should be pleased with the transfer that Warner Bros. have provided but may be disappointed with the lack of special features.