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Special-effects wunderkind and genre master Byron Haskin (The War of the Worlds, The Outer Limits) won a place in the hearts of fantasy-film lovers everywhere with this gorgeously designed journey into the unknown. When his spaceship crash-lands on the barren wastelands of Mars, U.S. astronaut Commander "Kit" Draper (Paul Mantee) must fight for survival, with a pet monkey seemingly his only companion. But is he alone? Shot in vast Techniscope and blazing Technicolor, Robinson Crusoe on Mars is an imaginative and beloved techni-marvel of classic science fiction.
Although it is a thoughtful and surprisingly nonexploitative movie, the title Robinson Crusoe on Mars might conjure up unholy echoes of cross-pollinated genre movies such as Jesse James Meets Frankenstein's Daughter or Santa Claus Conquers the Martians. Well, don't worry. This 1964 space epic is in fact an adaptation of the classic Daniel Defoe novel, and it plays fair by logic and science. After his spaceship crash-lands on Mars, astronaut Paul Mantee must figure out how to survive on the hostile planet (shot mostly in Death Valley), aided only by a monkey from his ship. Director Byron (The War of the Worlds) Haskin's sober approach brings a refreshing emphasis to issues of survival--how many space travel movies have you seen where the traveler tests the air of a distant planet and discovers that, by George, he can breathe just fine? Not this one. Mantee's desperate methods of tracking his air flow and experimenting with methods of breathing are painstakingly explored, and seem like exactly the kind of problems a real planetary voyager would encounter. The second half of the picture cleverly blends Defoe's plot with sci-fi conventions, and the movie never does "dumb down."
The Criterion Collection's DVD of Robinson Crusoe on Mars is a handsome treatment of a minor classic. A commentary track stitches together comments from a variety of participants, including Mantee, Haskin (in a 1979 interview), and original screenwriter Ib Melchior (disagreements between Haskin and Melchoir are included). A featurette, Destination--Mars gives some of the "science fact" behind the movie, and excerpts from Melchoir's original treatment show suggest changes made. And a "music video" puts movie clips alongside a song written and performed by co-star Victor Lundin, a number he developed for his appearances at sci-fi conventions. --Robert Horton
Campy classic. I remembered watching this as a child (when I was 9 years old). Just finished "The Martian" audio book by Andy Weir so I got a kick out of watching this for... Read morePublished 17 days ago by Amazon Customer
Great classic science fiction movie with lots of surprises and lots of heart.Published 27 days ago by S. Bordelon
I loved this movie,was not allowed to see it as a child(I'm 57).There were no bug-eyed monsters as was common for sci-fi movies of this era. Read morePublished 1 month ago by Brent W Hunter
I love this movie and Criterion did it justice. Bluray is flawless. ONe of my all time favorite scifi movies.Published 1 month ago by safetyjedi
This is an iconic Sci Fi movie. One of the best of all time in my opinion. The acting, the script, everything about it is classic...and great. Read morePublished 2 months ago by Patrick
It was OK, considering what an old film it is, but I didn't find it terribly interesting. The knowledge we all have now about conditions on Mars required quite a lot of suspension... Read morePublished 2 months ago by DF
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It seems that Criterion prices all of it's releases at $40.00 or above and doesn't come down in price ever. You just hope after a while that Amazon or a Marketplace Seller will offer the desired DVD at a much lower price. I have also been checking out the Richard Gere movie, Days of Heaven, and... Read More
May 25, 2009 by Twilightjoan | See all 7 posts
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