Atlantis, the Lost Continent (1961)

Director: George Pal

Which ties in neatly with the last couple of films reviewed here; it’s about Atlantis (which the good folks in Journey to the Centre of the Earth visit in passing near that film’s end) and it’s directed by George Pal, who obviously produced Destination Moon and who swiped the latter’s “The End of The Beginning” end title card for this one. I’ve written before about films that are in the “wrong” language, and this, by god/dess, is another one; Atlantis, the Lost Continent really should’ve been in Italian rather than English. By which I mean, it’s basically an American sword-and-sandal film, and it clicked as such with me when I read on the film’s Wikipedia page that Pal originally wanted an Italian actor who’d been in the Steve Reeves Hercules for the main role here. This film really should’ve been in Italian with English subtitles. Anyway, the film takes Plato’s myth of Atlantis, adds a touch of H.G. Wells (the beast-men being a twist I don’t suppose Plato thought of), uses a liberal amount of stock footage (infamously from Quo Vadis—regarding which the film’s Wiki page also preserves a nice joke—which I’ve never actually seen, but oh dear, it’s obvious even so), and kind of credits God with the destruction of Atlantis. This religious angle is one of the more curious things about the film, even more so than its fashion sense… when I reviewed When Worlds Collide, which Pal also produced about ten years before this one, I noted the religious angle to that film, and here it is again; the high priest (Edward Platt, one of the few faces I recognised in the film… well, more precisely I recognised his voice first) worships “the one true God”—and we can guess which particular one true God that is—and disavows Atlantis’ other idols, and predicts Atlantis’ impending doom at the hands of the said true God for turning away from him and creating their own idols of science. Which, again, is something I don’t think Plato thought of. The film seems to have been poorly regarded in its day, and it’s certainly no masterpiece of the art—not with acting this cheesy and back-projection this dodgy—but, as I’ve also said before, sometimes a reasonably entertaining non-masterpiece is just what you need on a Saturday night…


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