Monday, October 30, 2017

Endless World

One more movie that I watched off my DVR because you can get it on DVD and Blu-ray is World Without End.

The movie starts off in the sometime not too far in the future from when the movie was made (1956), but far enough in the future that the first manned mission to Mars is going on, with four astronauts in the rocket: Dr. Galbraith (Nelson Leigh), John Borden (Hugh Marlowe), Herbert Ellis (Rod Taylor), and Hank Jaffee (Christopher Dark). The mission, which is really just a reconnaissance mission, seems to have gone successfully. At least, until it's time to turn around and head for home. At that point, they lose radio contact and something happens to send the rocket to a superfast speed, knocking all four men out. When they come to, the ship crash lands.

They discover that the atmosphere of the world outside is like that of Earth, so they head out. Indeed, the place seems strangely like Earth, except that there are no people. They find a cave, only to discover that there are giant spiders in it! And then they get to a cemetery and discover the truth: they're in Earth's distant future, at some point after a nuclear war. Far enough that the radiation has dissipated, but they're still not certain quite far. Einstein's theory of relativity and the idea that an observer going extremely fast will see time pass much more slowly than a stationary observer at least from a fixed reference point like planet Earth. (The fact that Earth is moving doesn't matter here, as the time dilation really doesn't start to matter until you get close to speed of light. Even at 10% of the speed of light, the difference is only about one second every three minutes.)

They've got bigger problems than the fact that they're centuries in the future. The nuclear war left survivors, but they're all mutants. Not just those spiders, but mutant humans that live like cavemen except that some of them look more like cyclops. Our astronauts have to fight them, but they won't be able to hold off forever.

There's a bit of luck for them in that in one cave they come across a stainless steel door. It turns out that there are survivors who aren't mutants, and in order to survive the war they moved underground, staying there to escape the mutants. Timmek leads the underground people, while his daughter Gamet shows quite the interest in the astronauts from the past. In fact, all of the men seem to have no ambition, while the women are impossibly beautiful and friendly to the astronauts.

The astronauts eventually learn that this underground civilization is dying, and that the only way they can live is to move back above ground. They should have the technology to defeat the mutants, but the menfolk don't want any more violence. And they don't even want to help the astronauts start the new above ground civilization.

World Without End is quite good for what it is, which is a 1950s science fiction B movie. It's moderately intelligent, what special effects there are are generally not that bad (except for the spider in one scene), and the production values are high: the movie got the color and Cinemascope treatment. Sure, compared to prestige movies it's still low-budget and just science fiction. But it works and is more than entertaining enough.

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