Robinson Crusoe on Mars [Criterion Collection] [DVD] [1964]

While it wasn't a box-office success, Byron Haskin's 1964 sci-fi epic Robinson Crusoe On Mars has earned a cult following among genre fans over the years, thanks to its beautiful photography and production design as well as its understated wit and subtle intelligence, and in 1994 the Criterion Collection released the movie on laserdisc. Thirteen years later, Criterion has upgraded Robinson Crusoe On Mars to DVD, with some new bells and whistles added to flesh out the package. Robinson Crusoe On Mars has been given a new widescreen transfer to disc, letterboxed at its original theatrical aspect ratio of 2.35:1 on conventional televisions and enhanced for anamorphic play on 16x9 monitors. The transfer beautifully captures the richly saturated colors of Winton C. Hoch's camera work, as well as enough detail to reveal some minor flaws in the film's special effects. The disc retains the film's original monophonic sound mix in Dolby Digital Mono (which sounds splendid, especially the score by Van Cleave), while the dialogue is in English, with optional English subtitles but no multiple language options. The commentary track Criterion put together for the 1994 laserdisc edition has been resurrected for this DVD release; it features contributions from leading men Paul Mantee and Victor Lundin, the film's original production designer Al Nozaki, and Robert Skotak, a special effects man and fan of the film who explains how the movie's illusions were created. While Byron Haskin died in 1994, Criterion also allowed him to contribute to the commentary through excerpts from an American Film Institute interview conducted in 1979. Other bonus features include a new documentary, Destination: Mars, which compares the science seen in the film with what was known about Mars in 1964 and what is known today; the film's original theatrical trailer; a music video for the song "Robinson Crusoe On Mars" (written and performed by Victor Lundin), and a gallery of production photos and design sketches, including illustrations of creatures that don't appear in the finished film. Finally, eighty pages of excerpts from Ib Melchoir's original screenplay are included as a PDF file accessible on computers with DVD-ROM drives, and Robert Skotak contributes an entertaining essay to the disc's booklet. Fans of Sixties sci-fi will consider this an essential purchase, and anyone with an interest in this movie will be impressed with the commitment to quality Criterion has brought to this release.
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Overview

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Special Features

  • New, restored high-definition digital transfer
  • 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
  • Excerpts from Melchior's original screenplay
  • Destination: Mars, a new video featurette by Michael Lennick detailing the science and dreams behind Robinson Crusoe on Mars
  • New music video for Lundin's song "Robinson Crusoe on Mars"
  • Stills gallery of behind-the-scenes photos, production designs, and promotional material
  • Theatrical trailer
  • Plus: A booklet featuring a new essay by filmmaker and space historian Michael Lennick, Melchior's "Brief Yargorian Dictionary" of original alien dialect, and a list of facts about Mars from his original screenplay

Synopsis

Robinson Crusoe on Mars
Spun from Daniel DeFoe's tale of the titular character, this sci-fi story involves a spaceship commander, Chris Draper (Paul Mantee) in a similar situation to the original Robinson Crusoe -- but rather than being stranded on an island, our hero is on a hostile planet. Draper, Colonel Dan McReady (Adam West), and a test monkey look as if they are going to collide with a meteor. Draper and the chimp are able to eject themselves from the vessel, but McReady is not so lucky. The two survivors safely land on Mars and figure out how to breathe, drink, and eat on the inhospitable planet. After some time, Draper crosses paths with a human, Friday, who has recently escaped slavery on an alien planet. As the two find a means of communication, they become friends. They soon work together to survive the incredible odds, including an alien attack and meteorological phenomena. Filmed on location in California's Death Valley, this impressive feature owes much to cinematographer Winton c. Hoch and special effects master Lawrence W. Butler. ~ Kristie Hassen, Rovi

Cast & Crew

  • Paul Mantee
    Paul Mantee - Cmdr. Christopher "Kit" Draper
  • Image coming soon
    Vic Lundin - Friday
  • Adam West
    Adam West - Col. Dan McReady

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