Where Time Began


PreCommentary: Another version of Jules Verne’s Journey to the Centre of theEarth.

Notes: InternationalPicture Show Co.
Professor Otto Lindenbrock: Kenneth More
Axel: Pep Munne
Glauben: Yvonne Sentis
Olsen: Jack Taylor
Hans: Frank Brana

Produced: Almena Films
Directed: Piquer Simon
Screenplay: John Melson.

Summary: Professor Christophe complains about theories of the origin ofthe earth being “just theories” since humans have descendedonly three miles so far. We get the credits behind early sciencefiction film clips and a bizarre Welsh drinking song–really weird.

At a bookseller’s shop, an old man sells toLindenbrock an ancient book by Arne Saknussemm. The Professor’sniece Glauben is being wooed by Axel, from the Imperial PrussianMilitary Academy. Lindenbrock tries to decode a text within theOld English book. His niece superimposes the two transparentslides and Lindenbrock sees the answer in a mirror, telling themwhere to enter the earth. This has to happen at 11:29 on June19th, and it is June 20th, but fortunately Saknussemm was usingthe Julian calendar vs. the Gregorian, so they still have severaldays to arrive.

They hire a guide, Hans, who will be paid insheep, which is his fixation. Humor is attempted through Axel’sdignified narrative vs. scenes of his chickenhood. They take”instruments, tools, weapons,” the “essentials,”and descend into Mt. Sneffels.

Glauben drops the water supply, although humidityis 95%, and the Saknussemm guidebook blows away. A dinosaur fromthe misty waters goes unwitnessed. Glauben is terrorized whenher light goes out. She sinks in quicksand but is helped outby an unknown hand. No one believes her.

They hear noise which seems human. Axel: “Perhapsthey’re animals of some sort; they could even be dangerous!” Actually it’s themselves, because of acoustical echo. A cave-infollows. They meet a mysterious man named Olsen and his metalbox. Obviously he helped Glauben earlier, and Axel is jealous. Axel falls and knocks himself out for two days, waking up withthe others enjoying an underground ocean. While Hans makes araft they visit giant mushrooms with deadly spores which threatento fall. Olsen is detonating explosions, so they run.

On the raft they catch a prehistoric fish. Axel: “We’ll cook it!” They consider giving some toOlsen, but he’s absorbed in study. Glauben swims but sea monstersappear and fight each other. They stop at the island of giantfossilized turtles. Axel: “They must have been man-eating,but they died of hunger.” (Dumb-ass.) The turtles flashvicious teeth and fangs, and screech. The humans realize they’renot fossils and run away.

Back on the raft there’s electricity in theair. A storm bursts and fireballs burn the sail and mast. Ashoreafter a shipwreck, Olsen is missing. Axel and Glauben strollto “a prehistoric cemetery for animals.” There aredinosaur teeth, but Axel starts chickening again. He explainsthat he is considering marriage and in the same breath “babies.” (Dumb-ass.) As if on cue, a giant ape looms, also with fangs,and terrorizes the two inside a tree, which it tears from theground. Olsen saves them, shows them an underground city in whichall the people are Olsen, they arbitrarily decide they can’t tellthe Professor, and on the way out they see more dinosaurs.

Lindenbrock has been reading Olsen’s book,published in 1914 although it’s only 1898 now, and a referenceis made to time’s relativity. Inside a water-cave their passageis blocked. The Professor goes mildly berserk, hacking at therock wall. Olsen will solve the problem, and tells them to rowback a short way. He blows up the wall and presumably himself. During the following cataclysm, the water level rises, lots ofexplosions occur, and the four humans emerge from under the earth,barely missing a volcano which blows.

Hans gets sheep, Glauben and Dumb-ass are married,the Professor is at the bookstore. He sees a box of metal andthe ancient man through the window, who takes off his glassesand is Olsen. Another bizarre Welsh drinking song (“Candyland?”)provides the insane finale.

Commentary: The hell??? This is pretty dull going, although the giant apefrom a distance is impressive. Why anyone felt that the introductionof the supposedly mysterious (but really just listless and detached)Olsen would help is baffling, although Axel is insufferable, Glaubenan idiot, and Hans a prop. Lindenbrock is a stone drag too. And what are the implications of a city of busy Olsens under theearth? I want my money back. I want my two hours back. Is ittoo late to bail out of this whole dinosaur film project?