Sunday, 2 September 2012

The Land that Time Forgot

     My family didn't regularly go to the cinema when I was a child. So the few films I did see on the big screen packed an impact. Back in 1975, one movie I remember well was The Land that Time Forgot. At the time, I didn't know of Edgar Rice Burroughs apart from as the creator of Tarzan (and Tarzan I only knew from the Johnny Weissmuller films, which hadn't grabbed me). This, on the other hand... it had dinosaurs, and a submarine, and a brave hero. The pretty young woman didn't catch my attention much – I was too young for girls to have impinged. What the film did have was action, monsters, and a sense of the extraordinary. The titular Land was not just a “Lost World”, but had a strange pattern of advancement in evolution the further inland you went. That aspect was never fully explored, but it gave me the feeling that there was more here, more that could be explored, further mysteries to follow.
     It was many years later before I saw the sequel – The People that Time Forgot – which takes the ideas further, but which is by no means as good a film.
     The special effects, at the time, looked pretty good to me. Now, they creak nearly as badly as original Doctor Who – but so what? The story is what matters. The characters are relatively two-dimensional, but they are still better than the characters in some of the current blockbusters being made, and the plot keeps moving. The characters are active – they work to get themselves out of the trouble they are in through brains and muscle, rather than just panicking and being blown on the wind of fortune. Yes, Doug McClure's character may be a square-jawed hero with very little in the way of depth, but he is still a strong central figure.
     The Land that Time Forgot was the first of the Doug McClure action-adventure films, and is in my view the best. I hadn't discovered pulp adventure stories at that time (with the exception of Biggles) – this was the film that really introduced the genre to me. Without this, perhaps there would never have been Sorrel in Scarlet...  so you can all blame Doug McClure!

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