“Five Million Years to Earth” it’s a science fiction film British 1967, directed by Roy Ward Baker. It is the third and final film in the “Quatermass” series, based on the works of Nigel Kneale.
The plot follows Professor Quatermass, played by Andrew Keir, who investigates a series of strange events that take place during the construction of a new tube station in London. During the work, in fact, a spaceship of unknown origin is found, dating back to five million years ago, and containing three extraterrestrial beings in a state of hibernation. Quatermass and his team discover that aliens have left a trace of their presence on Earth, affecting human history and influencing the minds of the inhabitants of London.
The film is considered a classic of the British science fiction genre, thanks to its original plot and its eerie and mysterious atmosphere. The film influenced many later science fiction directors and writers, including John Carpenter and Ridley Scott.
Furthermore, “Five Million Years to Earthwas lauded for its acting performances, impressive cinematography, and evocative music. The film was also seen as a commentary on the Cold War and tensions between the United States and the Soviet Union, questioning the idea of man’s superiority over nature and technology.
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The plot of the film Five Million Years to Earth follows Professor Bernard Quatermass, a brilliant scientist played by Andrew Keir, who investigates a series of strange events that occur during the construction of a new tube station in London.
During the work, in fact, a spaceship of unknown origin is discovered, dating back to five million years ago, and containing three extraterrestrial beings in a state of hibernation. Quatermass and his team of scientists try to find out more about the ship and its occupants, but soon discover that aliens have left a trace of their presence on Earth, affecting human history.
In particular, it is revealed that extraterrestrials have genetically modified primates on Earth to create the human race and that they have left their technology in different parts of the world, influencing the construction of structures such as Stonehenge.
Furthermore, the researchers discover that the aliens have left some kind of mental virus in the ship, which infects people who come into contact with it, causing memories of a past life in which they were slaves of the extraterrestrials to emerge in the minds of the inhabitants of London.
Quatermass and his team try to avert a catastrophe and save humanity from the alien menace, but the situation becomes more and more critical when one of the aliens awakens and starts trying to regain control of the Earth.
The plot of the film is full of elements of suspense, mystery and action, and has influenced many subsequent science fiction directors and writers.
Here are the main characters of the film “Five Million Years to Earth”:
Professor Bernard Quatermass (played by Andrew Keir) – a famous scientist who leads research on spacecraft and extraterrestrial beings.
Dr. Matthew Roney (played by James Donald) – a paleontologist who works with Quatermass to try to solve the mystery of the spaceship.
Barbara Judd (portrayed by Barbara Shelley) – a laboratory assistant who becomes infected with the mind virus of aliens.
Sladden (played by Duncan Lamont) – a technician who is also infected with the mind virus.
Col. Breen (played by Julian Glover) – a skeptical military man who tries to thwart the efforts of Quatermass and his team.
The alien creature (played by James “Jimmy” Sangster) – one of the extraterrestrial beings that awakens from hibernation and tries to regain control of the Earth.
These are just some of the characters in the film, which features a large cast of actors and numerous secondary characters.
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The film “Five Million Years to Earthwas produced by Hammer Film Productions, one of the most famous British film production houses specializing in horror and fantasy films.
The film’s director was Roy Ward Baker, who had worked for Hammer previously directing films such as ‘The One That Got Away’ and ‘The Vampire Lovers’.
The screenplay for the film was written by Nigel Kneale, who created the character of Quatermass and also wrote the screenplays for the previous two films in the series.
The film was produced by Anthony Nelson Keys, who had already produced several other Hammer films, including “The Curse of Frankenstein” and “Dracula”.
Filming for the film was primarily done at Pinewood Studios in London, with some scenes also filmed on Hampstead Heath and other locations around the city.
The score for the film was composed by Tristram Cary, who had previously collaborated with Hammer on the score for “The Abominable Snowman”.
The film was released in British cinemas in November 1967, to great success with audiences and critics.
Distribution and Reception
The film “Five Million Years to Earthwas released in British cinemas on November 13, 1967 by the Rank Organisation, to great success with audiences and critics.
The film grossed over £500,000 at the box office, making it one of the year’s most successful films in Britain.
Critics praised the film for its gripping storyline, inspired direction by Roy Ward Baker and the performances of the lead actors, especially Andrew Keir as Quatermass.
The film was also praised for its social and philosophical implications, reflecting the concerns of 1960s British society about the Cold War, technology and the presence of other life forms in the universe.
The film has since become a classic of British science fiction and has influenced numerous directors and writers in the genre. It has also been the subject of various remakes and adaptations, including a 1958 television series and a 1994 BBC radio adaptation.
The film “Five Million Years to Earth” fits into the tradition of 1960s British science fiction, which was characterized by attention to the social and philosophical implications of science fiction themes.
The style of the film is typical of Hammer Film Productions, with the use of suggestive cinematography and an intense and dramatic soundtrack.
Roy Ward Baker’s direction is notable for its ability to build tension and suspense through the use of suggestive shots and dynamic editing.
Nigel Kneale’s screenplay focuses on the philosophical and social implications of the story, exploring themes such as human nature, the cold war and the threat of other life forms in the universe.
The special effects of the film, although made with outdated techniques, are nonetheless remarkable for the time and were appreciated for their ability to create evocative atmospheres and to evoke the presence of aliens.
Overall, the style of the film “Five Million Years to Earth” is characterized by its ability to create an atmosphere of tension and mystery, which combines with philosophical reflection on science fiction themes to create an immersive and passionate viewing experience.
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Roy Ward Baker, the director of “Five Million Years to Earth’, was an English director who worked in the film and television business for over fifty years.
Born in London in 1916, Baker began his career as an assistant director, working with directors such as Alfred Hitchcock, Michael Powell e Carol Reed.
His first film as a director was 1947’s ‘The October Man’, but it was with horror movies and fantastic produced by Hammer Film Productions that Baker achieved his greatest fame. In addition to ‘Quatermass and the Pit’, he has directed other hits such as ‘The Vampire Lovers’ and ‘Scars of Dracula’.
Baker stood out for his ability to create suggestive and tense atmospheres, using techniques such as the use of light and shadow, tight shots and decisive and precise camera movements.
After directing numerous films and television series, Baker retired from filmmaking in the 1980s, continuing to work as a consultant and supervisor on some television and film productions.
He died in 2010, aged 93, leaving behind a highly successful career and a reputation as a thoughtful and innovative filmmaker.