Saturday, July 27, 2013

Jules Verne

Before I get into this posting, which actually is more on the topic of Journey to the Center of the Earth, I have a little miscellaneous to wrap up on Stephen King and a freebie from, if you are interested.  Over at the site they are celebrating their fifth birthday, and are offering a mammoth download of their past five years of fiction in an ebooks file.  I haven't done this myself yet, but toying with the idea.  The offer only last until Thursday August 1st, so if you think you might want to take advantage of it, you better check it out soon.  I don't have an e-reader yet, so I'd have to download it to a jump drive or something like that.  But if I had an e-reader, I'd be all over it.  You have to register to download the file, but it's free to do so.

As far as the Stephen King update.  I saw where he has started a free webcomic story called Little Green God of Agony taken from the same short story he wrote.   He'll update it over several weeks, but I thought I'd provide a link to the site, if there are those interested.

The original 1959 movie, Journey To The Center Of The Earth, was made by 20th Century Fox and a favorite SF movie of mine. The film is taken from the novel by Frenchman, Jules Verne (1828-1905) who is generally thought of as one of the founding fathers of SF literature, the other being, H. G. Wells.  By today's standards it might be a bit corny here and there, and it doesn't contain the all the CG effects that modern moviegoers seem to enjoy.  But that said, there's a lot to be said about some of the original, older SF films.  In fact, I don't need the CG effects if the story is there and it's directed well.  In my opinion,  there are few remade films that are worth the effort, yet Hollywood continues to do so.  I did enjoy John Carpenter's remake of The Thing, (and even the sequel to it), also the 80's remake of The Blob, and even Cronenberg's The Fly to some degree.  But most of them fall flat for me, and in some cases are outright sacrilegious like the remake to Psycho, or even, Tim Burton's version to Planet of the Apes.  I could tolerate his version of Planet of the Apes, but it's not as good as the original,  updated special effects or not.  So I get a bit antsy when I hear about a remake to motion pictures these days.  Even without the updated special effects, I'd think a modern kid would enjoy this film, if they happened to catch it on TCM or some other cable channel.

The original film draws from a lively screenplay, with good acting from both James Mason and Arlene Dahl.  Pat Boone, a pop singer at the time, stars in it as well.  There is a great sense of wonder once the story gears up and they enter the underground sequences (filmed on location at Carlsbad Caverns, if I remember correctly).  There are underground jeweled caverns, amazing vistas, and dinosaurs within the depths.  There are plot changes from the original book by Verne, but I had not read the story beforehand, so I didn't know the difference.  One of them includes a rival expedition led by a villainous Icelander played by Thayer David.  At any rate, I thought they captured the essence of the 1880's, and the true spirit of Verne.  I have not seen any of the newer updates of the film, but might give them a try if I can find the time.

If  you enjoyed Journey To The Centre Of The Earth, and want to continue the journey in musical form, check out Rick Wakeman's 1974 live concert CD.  Wakeman is a keyboard player and has played in the British band, The Strawbs, and also has been keyboardist for Yes.  In this effort he is joined along with the London Symphony orchestra, and David Hemmings provides the narrative parts, which tell the story.  I didn't care too much for this album when I first bought it, but over the years it has grown on me, and enjoy it very much.

In 1999, Wakeman made a sequel, Return To The Centre Of The Earth.  This time it is narrated by Star Trek: Next Generation's, Patrick Stewart, and he does a great job at his storytelling, but I don't care for the music as much as the original, as I lean a bit more towards classical music, and the music presented this time around is more new age, with updated synthesizers and so forth.  



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