Wednesday, 11 January 2017

The imagination of H. G. Wells and the visual talents of Ray Harryhausen are such a good match that it’s a surprise they only came together for one film.

When Victorian businessman Bedford discovers that the reclusive inventor Cavor has come up with a technique to negate gravity, he's soon whisked along on a trip to the moon, with his narked-off girlfriend Kate accidentally on board, too.

The characters and performances are clichéd – the opportunistic businessman, the mad scientist, the whiny-but-actually-not-as-annoying-as-she-could-be girlfriend – but this does allow for some lively comic interplay between them. There’s also tension derived from Bedford and Cavor’s attitudes to the aliens, with an ultimately optimistic message about the importance of understanding other cultures.

Retaining much of Wells’ tale, this is a fantastic science fiction adventure, and the naïveté of the Victorian science only adds to the quirky charm – it’s a film where you can jump around the moon in a diving suit, because “if it can hold water out, it can hold air in”. But what allows this 1964 movie to remain entertaining today is Harryhausen's delightful stop-motion, a highlight being the giant caterpillar-like beast that accosts Bedford and Cavor.

For animation enthusiasts, sci-fi fans, and kids not yet corrupted by the lure of CGI, First Men in the Moon showcases the work of two of the most pioneering, revered names in fantastic entertainment. 


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