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The Martian Chronicles

165 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

From the mind of science-fiction giant Ray Bradbury springs what is perhaps his most epic vision. Capturing mankind's first venture into the colonization of another planetand its tragic first contact with another species"The Martian Chronicles" is a stunning achievement that will take you from the edge of your seat'to the stars. Earth is on the verge of extinction. To survive, mankind must find another place to live. But when three expeditions to Mars, headed by Col. John Wilder (OscarÂ(r) nominee* Rock Hudson), find suitable conditions for relocation, humans pour in bythe shipload, bringing the old evils of Earth with them! As Wilder begins to heed the lessons of the dying Martian civilization, can he save humanity from repeating its doom? *1956: Actor, Giant

With each passing year, this 1980 miniseries becomes more for those who have read Ray Bradbury's landmark novel. The three-part, nearly five-hour series keeps its brainy science fiction roots; this story (and the 1940s novel) is not about laser battles and exciting action pieces. Bradbury's novel is galvanized by the cold war nightmare: at the end of the 20th century, an earth teetering on world war begins to colonize Mars without much knowledge of the new world. Hard science is left for other stories, and director Michael Anderson (Logan's Run) keeps this retrofitting: for example, astronauts arrive on a breathable Mars in leisure suits. The space travel effects are clunky, but the action on Mars--with Assheton Gorton's geometric sets and simple props--are far more effective. There are Martians there, as the unprepared first Earthlings learn. Later, as the planet is quickly colonized, the remaining Martians are near specters--bringing awe and fear to those they encounter. Master sci-fi writer Richard Matheson (I Am Legend) smartly streamlines Bradbury's episodic stories, giving a central role to Col. John Wilder (played by Rock Huston, leading a plethora of solid, yet B-list actors). For those in love with cerebral science fiction, they can enjoy this dated but curious sci-fi miniseries; for those of think sci-fi began with Star Wars, beware. --Doug Thomas

Special Features


Product Details

  • Actors: Rock Hudson, Gayle Hunnicutt, Bernie Casey, Christopher Connelly, Nicholas Hammond
  • Producers: Charles M. Fries
  • Format: Closed-captioned, Color, Full Screen, NTSC, Subtitled, Dolby, Miniseries
  • Language: English (Dolby Digital 1.0)
  • Subtitles: English, Spanish, French
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Number of discs: 2
  • Rated: NR (Not Rated)
  • Studio: MGM (Video & DVD)
  • DVD Release Date: September 7, 2004
  • Run Time: 281 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (165 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B0002CR03Q
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #25,174 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "The Martian Chronicles" on IMDb

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

77 of 80 people found the following review helpful By Michael Brown on September 22, 2004
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
Seriously Retro!

I've a soft spot for this one, having watched it the first time around in 1980 (which is when it reached the UK). No doubt that it's the power of Ray Bradbury's original stories that carries it.

In a sense, you've got to switch off your brain to enjoy this. Or perhaps I should say you should switch of your Left Brain: the logical, analytical part. For example, we all know now that people can't breathe on the surface of Mars without space suits. Let it go! If you can't do that then don't bother with this DVD. Switch on your Right Brain (imagination) and you've a chance of enjoying this... just a chance though!

First, let's get the bad stuff out of the way. The special effects are bad. I know that they didn't have CGI etc then, but this was 2 years after Star Wars, or in a TV sense, a year after Battlestar Galactica. I'd have expected a major US network to have at least bettered Dr Who or Blake's 7 standards; but they didn't.

The pace is very slow. Sometimes that lets the stories unfold at a natural pace, but a lot of the time, you're tapping your fingers, thinking "get on with it!". In this regard, Bradbury was scathing in his comments at the time: "it's boring, they've made it boring", he said. And he had no doubt where the blame lay, saying that Michael Anderson had directed it "underwater". He wasn't wrong.

And often, the acting doesn't help. Rock Hudson has never been the most exciting actor in the world, and he's particularly dull here. Sure, he does integrity and trustworthiness just fine, but there were times that I felt his character needed a little more fire in his belly and Hudson doesn't provide it. The rest of the cast is variable, to put it mildy.
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34 of 36 people found the following review helpful By Gordon Cameron on July 22, 2007
Format: DVD
I first saw the "Martian Chronicles" miniseries as a child -- before reading Bradbury's book -- and it's made an indelible impression on me. Many of the special effects don't hold up, and the pacing of some of the scenes is glacial. I can understand Bradbury's criticism that the miniseries was boring. But the score is wonderful, and the production design is unforgettable -- the geometric structures of the Martian cities, the frightening masks that the Martians wear, etc. Despite the lapses in effects and budget, and the obviousness of the location shooting (no red sky, etc.), the miniseries achieves a distinctive look and feel. There is nothing else like it in sci-fi television.

Some of the sequences simply don't work. I always fast-forward through the endless scenes of the two priests wandering in the desert looking for glowing spheres; and the "Genevieve Selsor" sequence with Bernadette Peters is uninteresting as well. But the adaptation of "And the Moon Be Still As Bright," with Bernie Casey indelible as Spender, still works. In a later segment, Wilder's nighttime meeting with a ghostly Martian from the past (or future?) retains an elegiac tone, and provides a pretty good manifesto on how life ought to be lived. Elsewhere, there's a sand-ship chase sequence that looks cheesy, but those spooky zoom shots of the masked Martians as they pursue Sam Parkhill still unnerve me. Parkhill's discovery of nuclear war on Earth -- viewed through a telescope -- is a memorable moment, powerfully scored. And the "second expedition" sequence, with the astronauts somehow finding themselves in Green Bluff, Illinois, rather than on Mars, reaches a climax that is still downright frightening.

It's hard to say how much of the miniseries I am viewing through the lens of nostalgia -- I am, perhaps, being more forgiving than it deserves. But to those seeking offbeat sci-fi offerings, this is worth a look.
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15 of 15 people found the following review helpful By Mark Weller on November 17, 2006
Format: DVD
When I was at the San Diego Comic Con during the summer of 2006, I attended a panel where Ray Bradbury was speaking. He touched on a lot of topics, and I recall him murmuring some disapproval at the 1970's Martian Chronicles series starring Rock Hudson. Notwithstanding the author's views - I actually really liked this mini-series. Maybe it was the direction, the subject matter or the location for the filming, but this show managed to hit a very odd note of alienation and desolation that built upon the events depicted in Bradbury's celebrated novel. There are moments in this admittedly "TV movie of the Week" quality production that are very eerie, evocative and memorable. On the whole, when I saw this years ago it left me feeling frustrated and a little depressed for the sad state that human, and Martian, affairs had come to. In other words, I loved it.
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33 of 39 people found the following review helpful By Michael V. Hughes on July 29, 2004
Format: DVD
Anyone brought up on special effects as seen on big blockbusters such as star wars will probably not want to see this old Rock Hudson number. A diamond in the rough, however it is a prime example of a genuine sci fi story, without so much distracting eye candy. Unfortunately the UK video release butchered the original 3 installments into one made for TV movie. The film has an interesting moral perspective and one cannot help but draw parallels with the native Americans. The Martians similarly die from diseases brought over by the Europeans and hastily erected tin cities desecrate the otherwise flawless martian landscape. Sure, most of the budget went to pay Rock Hudson and there's an obvious paucity of special effects, but the story itself narrated in a dispassionate manner will grip you nonetheless, if you are a real science fiction fan that is.
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