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