Monday, June 18, 2012
World Without End (1956)
This is a neat nuclear hysteria fueled sci-fi film from the 50’s about a group of four astronauts who fly through a time barrier and end up on 26th century Earth. Of course, at this point Earth has almost recovered from a catastrophic nuclear war that has mutated humans into one-eyed cavemen who enslave “normal” humans and has driven still other humans underground. The astronauts stay with the underground humans after fighting the ugly Cyclopes (and a couple of terribly executed “giant spiders”) and are dismayed by the fact that, despite their advanced technology, the underground community of survivors are spineless cowards who are content with staying in their safe underground lair, not expanding into the outside world and innovating and advancing the human race, and interbreeding and dwindling their population every generation. Everyone in the underground community seems reasonable except for guy named Maurice who would do anything to stop the underground dwellers from expanding from their safe environment, even killing and blaming the astronauts.
This is a typical 50’s sci-fi movie that emphasizes the “manliness” of men (the astronauts are seen as brash, manly, and proactive while the men of the underground city are soft, cowardly and weak – of course, the women folk of this future society “love” the astronaut men), and the women are pretty and know their place. The women of this future have short skirts and are all hot, demure servants to the men – this is seen as perfectly normal. Hey, this movie was made in the 50’s – what do you want?
The final scene in which the astronauts rig a rocket launcher and raid the nest of the Cyclops men is pretty impressively violent. You will love when they blow up clearings and hiding places full of the Cyclops men and their troops, and the lead astronaut challenges the lead Cyclops (named Naga – and he has some pretty impressively ugly creature make-up) and has a convincing fight to the death for leadership of the Cyclopes.
Fun and enjoyable, World Without End is a window into how 50’s audiences viewed themselves in a relatively uncomplicated time when men were men and women were women and in a period where a catastrophic use of nuclear bombs was seen as inevitable.