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This review is from: The Quatermass Collection: The Quatermass Experiment / Quatermass 2 / Quatermass & the Pit [DVD] (DVD)
These are the television series that gripped a generation - or would have if we'd all had a telly. Millions watched, tormented by the need to know what happened next. There were no other TV stations to distract or compete. There was only the BBC and they only had one station and were, themselves still learning how to make good programmes for the small screen. Then Nigel Kneal (writer) and Rudolph Cartier (producer) came along and showed how it could be done: how to get a lot of image onto the small television screens of the 1950s, how to get an audience hooked and eager to tune in again for the next episode, how to tap into an audience's imagination and set it a-going.
These DVDs were delivered only a couple of days ago and I've watched them all twice so far. It's very rare that I will watch a modern film through twice within a few days. What makes this old Quatermass series so compelling? It's not just nostalgia (though that plays a part). I believe it's the way they force you to use your imagination. Fans of the modern films that employ all sorts of computer generated tricks and have access to enormous budgets may not appreciate this. After all, it's all in black and white and the special effects, although ingenious, might seem crude by today's standards. The acting, at least from the main characters is pretty good - if a bit melodramatic. The picture and sound quality of 'Quatermass II' and 'Quatermass and the Pit' are fairly good, but only two episodes of the first series, 'The Quatermass Experiment' still exist and some of the images are showing their age (and you may find that you're glad of the subtitle facility when watching those two episodes first time). It was a good idea to include the scripts of the missing episodes, but they are photocopied from old type-written documents, about 40 pages each missing episode - you'd need to be a very determined fan to attempt to decipher them.
Despite the disadvantages, these three Quatermass series still make a wonderful viewing experience. The limitations of the technology actually help by requiring the audience to use their imagination. The human imagination is exponentially more powerful than any CGI special effects. In the time before brilliant special effects, the filmmakers colluded with the viewers to ratchet up the fear and tension using the viewers' imagination as the seed bed to grow suspense, excitement, awe. I enjoy modern films and the special effects impress me, but once the film maker has shown me everything, leaving my imagination more or less redundant, there's no reason to watch the film again very soon. But shows like these, that don't reveal everything, make it possible for you to form your own image of the monster/scene/action, and thereby engaged you at a deeper level, so the programmes can grip you again and again as your imagination reawakens the old monster and adds to it. That's how the Quatermass series works for me. They feed the parts of my mind that the clever, modern films don't reach.
I recommend these series to all whose imagination is in good working order.
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Showing 1-4 of 4 posts in this discussion
Initial post: 20 Oct 2010 12:17:04 BDT
Christopher Nash says:
I felt privileged to watch these. They're simply wonderful and light years ahead of today's CGI nonsense. Science fiction is about IDEAS and these are so rich in that respect.
Posted on 20 Mar 2013 19:32:03 GMT
John Winston says:
Great review. Thanks.
Posted on 7 Jun 2013 09:09:43 BDT
Ken Raus says:
Very insightful and excellent revue.
Posted on 19 Mar 2014 18:40:37 GMT
Last edited by the author on 19 Mar 2014 18:41:46 GMT
Sally, I'm glad you mentioned that only two episodes of 'Q.E.' were included -- the missing ones were the ones I wanted to see!
I've got to say how brilliantly Quatermass and the Pit has stood the test of time -- production, acting, photography, etc.
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