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SPECIFICATIONS
  • 2.35:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
  • English PCM Mono
  • English subtitles
  • 1 Disc
FEATURES
  • Audio commentary featuring screenwriter Ib Melchior, actors Paul Mantee and Victor Lundin, production designer Al Nozaki, Oscar-winning special effects designer and Robinson Crusoe on Mars historian Robert Skotak, and excerpts from a 1979 audio interview with director Byron Haskin
  • Destination: Mars, a new video featurette by Michael Lennick detailing the science behind Robinson Crusoe on Mars
  • New music video for Victor Lundin's song "Robinson Crusoe on Mars"
  • Stills gallery of behind-the-scenes photos, production designs, and promotional material
  • Theatrical trailer

Robinson Crusoe on Mars

Blu-ray
Reviewed by: Chris Galloway

Directed By: Byron Haskin
Starring: Paul Mantee, Victor Lundin, Adam West
1964 | 110 Minutes | Licensor: Paramount Home Entertainment

Release Information
Blu-ray | MSRP: $39.95 | Series: The Criterion Collection | Edition: #404
RLJ Entertainment

Release Date: January 11, 2011
Review Date: January 1, 2011

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SYNOPSIS

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.

Forum members rate this film 6.3/10

 

Discuss the film and Blu-ray here   


PICTURE

Previously released on both Laserdisc and DVD by Criterion, they now present the cult sci-fi favourite Robinson Crusoe on Mars on Blu-ray in its original aspect ratio of about 2.35:1 on this dual-layer disc. The transfer is presented in 1080p/24hz.

The DVDís transfer was fine and it looks as though the same high-def transfer that acted as the basis for that release has also been used here and it improves upon that release in all the ways one would expect a Blu-ray to do so. The image is much sharper and crisper, free of any artifacts or noise that did somewhat litter that standard-def presentation. Colours, specifically the reds, which there are plenty of in this film, are rendered a little cleaner, and blacks are even a little deeper and inkier as well. Detail is absolutely stunning in places, particularly close-ups, but the film can get a little mucky and softer in some long shots that have effects (more than likely an issue in the source materials.)

Grain is present and is generally fairly light but there are some effects shots or long shots where the grain can get pretty heavy, making the image fuzzy as a consequence. And though the effects in the film are extremely dated and have always had their rough edges, I think their seams become a little more obvious here thanks to the improved clarity of the image.

In the end I canít say I was too shocked by how good the image looked since the DVD looked good to begin with, and overall I got what I expected, but it still has a few nice surprises, and, considering how hard it seemed to get the film on home video to begin with, itís an absolute treat to get the film looking as sharp as this on Blu-ray.

8/10

All Blu-ray screen captures come from the source disc and have been shrunk from 1920x1080 to 900x506 and slightly compressed to conserve space. While they are not exact representations they should offer a general idea of overall video quality.

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AUDIO

The lossless linear PCM mono track does offer a subtle improvement over the previous DVD editionís. Again itís clean, free of noise and distortion, with the dated sound effects even coming off as though they were recorded recently. Volume levels are excellent, with some surprisingly loud moments, and dialogue is clear and intelligible. Though effectively mono, itís a surprisingly effective and fairly robust track, never coming off flat.

7/10

SUPPLEMENTS

Just about everything has been ported from the DVD edition, which in effect was mostly ported from the rare Laserdisc edition. One item is missing, but I will get to that later.

Thankfully we do get the audio commentary again, recorded for the original Laserdisc. This commentary features screenwriter Ib Melchior, actors Paul Mantee and Victor Lundin (no Adam West unfortunately,) production designer Al Nozaki, effects designer Robert Skotak, and Byron Haskin (through excerpts from a 1979 audio interview.) Unfortunately no one was recorded together, like most commentaries from Criterionís laserdisc days; everyone was recorded separately and then Criterion has edited the track together.

Itís a very informative track, covering about every aspect of the filmís production history. Mantee has a good chunk of the track as he discusses his method of acting in the film. He did take the role quite seriously and tried to use method forms of acting. He also touches on his disappointment with the filmís failure are the box office. Lundin doesnít show up on the track until his character appears one hour in and he discusses his character, some of his disappointments, and also gets in-depth about working with the monkey. Nozaki and Skotak get real technical, discussing getting the look of the film. They talk a lot about the original script and the changes that occurred as production progressed. Excerpts from Haskinís interview are inserted here and there, audio quality being a little poor, but he talks about shooting the film and discusses some sequences specifically. Melchior offers the most interesting aspect. You can tell he is sort of disappointed with many aspects of the film as his original script envisioned different things. Like most Criterion commentaries this one is frank and honest and not everyone involved is chipper, though it doesnít reach the levels of the Spartacus commentary (where Ustinov consistently bad-talked Olivier and Laughton.) A little repetitive at times but a decent track that I enjoyed.

The rest of the supplements are found under the ďSupplementsĒ section of the pop-out menu.

Of most interest for me was a new supplement for this release called Destination: Mars. Lasting over 19-minutes and presented in 1.33:1, various experts talk about the film and its accuracy about Mars. For the time the film was pretty accurate and a lot of thought was put into it, though since then (as little as a year after the filmís release when Mariner 4 went to Mars) weíve learned much more about the planet. The documentary also goes through the history of Mars research and gives some of the most recent discoveries. Iím into this kind of stuff so I found it a great feature and next to the commentary it might be my favourite one on this disc.

Next up is a 4-minute music video for a song (presented in Dolby Digital 2.0 surround) called ďRobinson Crusoe on MarsĒ by Victor Lundin. The song plays over clips of the film. Itís an interesting song, but admittedly not my cup of tea. Iíd recommend it only for the hardcore fans of the film.

Next on the list is the 4-minute theatrical trailer presented. Itís like most trailers of the time, lots of blurbs, almost gives you the whole story.

We get an impressive stills gallery that contains a large amount of sketches and designs, both from Ib Melchior and then from Haskinís team. It also contains poster art, photos from the set, publicity photos, lobby cards, excerpts from the press book (including possible tie-ins) and even storyboards. Itís very extensive and contains a lot of information. Text notes accompany most of the photos. By the looks of it everything has made it here from the DVD editionís gallery (one thing Iíve noticed is, for whatever reason, Criterion doesnít always port over all of the photos from a DVDís gallery to the Blu-ray edition.)

What hasnít made it are the ďScript ExcerptsĒ found on the DVD edition. This was actually a PDF file that needed to be opened from your computer after placing the disc in the DVD-ROM drive.

But the contents of the original booklet appear to have made it. It again contains an essay by Michael Lennick which gives a production history and a decent analysis of the film. Thereís also some notes from Melchiorís screenplay containing a brief dictionary for Fridayís language, and some fun-factsabout Mars. Itís a slim booklet but worth skimming through.

Not much, but itís a pretty informative set of extras that covers the filmís production pretty well.

7/10

CLOSING

Not a significant upgrade over the DVD edition but the transfer offers enough of an improvement over the DVD edition that people with bigger TV sets may want to consider the upgrade.


View packaging for this Blu-ray

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