When Worlds Collide

Starring: Barbara Rush, Richard Derr, et al.
Director: Rudolph Mate

Edition Details: Region 2 encoding (Europe, Middle East & Japan only), PAL, Colour, Dubbed


This ‘Fifties End-of-the-World movie kicks off in “distant” South Africa. I thought I’d mention this because I happen to live in South Africa and would just like to say that the brief glimpse of the “South African” landscape we get in a few shots look nothing like any part of the country I know at all. Also, no-one in this opening sequence sounds remotely South African either.

Anyway, now that I’ve gotten that off my chest: When Worlds Collide (released in 1951) – produced by the legendary George Pal of War of the Worlds and The Time Machine fame – is hopelessly outdated today, but that is where part of its charm lies: the archaic giant V-1 rocket being launched on tracks (remember this was 18 years before the moon landing); the stoic and rather well-mannered response of humanity to this calamity, this being the 1950s after all, a more civilised era (except for the sexual repression and racism, of course); the cheesy looking special effects with obvious scale models and the like.

It’s a solid sci-fi premise with the Earth being threatened by an intrusive star and, there being no Bruce Willis to save us all from Armageddon, plans are set up to start life anew on another planet by launching a veritable modern “Noah’s Ark” with room for only 40 lucky sods.

Or maybe they’re not so lucky . . . I don’t know what it’d be like to spend the rest of one’s life with the same 40 people with no real opportunity of meeting anyone else – ever!

THE DISC: This is the Region 2 (Europe, Middle East & Japan only) disc. It has . . . a trailer. Yup, that’s it. Rather shoddy I think – couldn’t they have scrounged up at least a film historian or something to for an audio track explaining how producer George Pal actually consulted rocket scientist Wernher von Braun for the movie or something like that.

In its defence it must be said that the image (full screen – probably close enough to its original aspect ration without shearing off too much from the edges) looks sharp and the mono sound is clear. Surprisingly good for a movie over a half century old, really . . .

WORTH IT? Some extras would have been nice. When Worlds Collide may not be one of the best movies of its era, but at least it got spoofed in an episode of The Simpsons, which makes part of our pop cultural mindscape then . . .

RECOMMENDATION: Worth a rental. Make your own popcorn.



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