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4.4 out of 5 stars
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4.4 out of 5 stars
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There are some films you love but you can't really justify. Still, I'll give it a try with The Island at the Top of the World. I can understand why a younger generation probably have a hard time taking an adventure movie with action icons Donald Sinden, David Hartman and Jacques Marin seriously. And yes, the once state of the art special effects do look quaint these days, not least Donald Sinden running furiously on the spot to outrun backprojected lava in a shot that elicited roars of laughter from audiences at the time. Maybe it's because it's one of those films I grew up with. In the pre-Star Wars seventies there weren't that many kid-friendly adventure movies, what with nihilism, Vietnam and post-Watergate cynicism setting the screen agenda, so a film that offered airships, volcanoes, killer whales, Eskimos (as we still ignorantly called them in those days), the North Pole and a lost colony of Vikings (in what looks so suspiciously like the Shangri-La of the previous year's Lost Horizon remake that you keep on expecting them to start singing The World is a Circle) was like Christmas come early.

Disney's turn-of-the-(20th)-century adventure sees millionaire businessman Sinden, in one of those naturalistic performances we know and love him for, taking Marin's airship in search of his son, who disappeared searching for a legendary island in the Arctic where the whales go to die. Naturally, he brings Hartman's archaeologist who specialises in Norse history with him, as you would on an expedition to the Arctic, kidnapping Mako's Japanese Eskimo en route. Crashlanding in the icy mountains, instead of Shangri-La and its peace-loving monks they find Astragard and its bloodthirsty Vikings. Once there, they find that junior has had enough of adventure and wants to go into business with his father. The local high priest (adequately described by Sinden as a "bloodthirsty bounder") isn't too wild about this idea and thinks they should execute them instead, setting in motion a series of saturday morning matinee cliffhangers despite the fact that most of the Vikings seem more likely to be interested in Ikea shelf-units and open topped sandwiches than rape and pillage...

The plot may be the standard three-act lost world model - spend a third of the movie getting there, a third finding out what it's like and the last third running for their lives as they attempt to escape - but Disney's now forgotten A-list director Robert Stevenson keeps it moving swiftly along, Peter Ellenshaw's Oscar-nominated production design and Alan Maley's matte paintings give it a storybook quality and it also has a beautiful Maurice Jarre score which has sadly never been released as an album. Dammit, I still enjoy it!

Sadly the Region 2 PAL DVD is completely extras-free, making Disney's 30th anniversary Region 1 NTSC special edition the one to get. The extras aren't as lavish as the Vault Disney series, but they're better than the previous Anchor Bay Region 1 version - a 1968 presentation reel for the film, a vintage behind-the-scenes featurette, 4 TV spots, 2 trailers, camera dailies and a surprisingly good stills gallery. It's just a shame they didn't carry over the isolated score from the laserdisc issue.
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on 14 July 2007
This is undoubtedly the best airship/Viking/poodle/whale movie ever made, and that's saying something. I first saw it at the pictures when I was twelve and, on re-viewing, I enjoyed it tremendously. It's worth noting that the author of the book on which the film was based, Ian Cameron (pen-name for Donald Payne), also wrote Walkabout, which became a much-loved Jenny Agutter movie. I agree with the previous reviewer about the effects, at least regards the dreaded volcanic eruption. But the model shots of the airship Hyperion are still pretty good. There are some other nice touches, notably the way the Vikings are presented as superstitious but basically decent types. Also, it's deeply satisfying that the only person who's killed is a religious bigot who brings it on himself. (Thank you, Disney, for creating such a child-friendly argument for separating church and state.) Ah, they don't do escapism like they used to.
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 27 December 2010
Although not a classic, I reckon this Disney movie deserves more credit than it already gets, I found it to be an enjoyable and charming 90 minute adventure movie.
Made in 1974, the story begins in London in 1907, when English businessman Sir Anthony Ross (Donald Sinden) meets American Archaeologist, Professor Ivarsson (David Hartman) to discuss Ross's Son, Donald, who has gone missing in the Arctic.
The only helpful clues that they have is a piece of paper describing a mythical land, and a carved piece of Whalebone, which when placed on a map appears to point out the position of the island.

The search begins aboard an airship piloted by French inventor, Captain Brieux, (Jacques Marin). During the journey the three men and a small Poodle are eventually joined by an unwilling Eskimo trapper named Oomiak (played by Mako) who was the last person to see Donald alive.
On arrival at the lost land the group are promptly captured by a party of 10th-century Vikings, and after being accused of being the forward party of an invading force, the men are put on trial, and are eventually sentenced to death after being found guilty.

The action accelerates when the group escape their captors and attempt to reach the airship, although the sets and scenery are quite impressive for the time, its during this passage of the movie that an unintentionally hilarious scene occurs, when, as other reviewers have already mentioned, Donald Sinden attempts to outrun a fast-flowing river of molten lava - guaranteed to raise at least a chuckle!

The 1:85:1 widescreen colour picture and mono sound quality are good, the disc also features various soundtrack and subtitle languages, including English, but no extras.
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 20 September 2015
The Island at the Top of the World is directed by Robert Stevenson and adapted to screenplay by John Whedon from the novel The Lost Ones written by Ian Cameron. It stars Donald Sinden, David Hartman, Jacques Marin, Mako and Agneta Eckemyr. Music is by Maurice Jarre and cinematography by Frank Phillips.

Out of Walt Disney productions, this is a pic that finds the house of the mouse desperately trying to keep their live action fantasy flame ablaze. Unfortunately, in spite of some appealing production shunts, it's really rather dull and performed in the same manner.

Plot has Sinden as an aristo type who has arranged an expedition to search the Arctic wastes for his lost son, Donald, who disappeared two years previously. Gathering up archaeologist Hartman and a dirigible piloted by Marin, they set off to the fabled place at the top of the world, a place where whales are said to go and die in peace. Will they make it? If so what will they find there?

There's an old fashioned feel to proceedings, of adventure movies from decades before, but with that also comes the familiarity of knowing what will happen in the story. The characters are one dimensional stereotypes, completed by a comedy canine. The effects veer from poor to even poorer, though not lacking in imagination and always colourful via Phillips' lens filters.

Ultimately it's one for kiddies and nostalgists, a noticed served of a mighty studio cutting corners and running out of ideas for the format to hand, thus the film suffers greatly for it. 5/10
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on 27 February 2011
Not a bad film at all, despite some overacting by Donald Sinden, special effects are a bit iffy, but who cares, a nice way to pass the time.
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on 17 June 2012
Easy to watch film, unbelievable but entertaining. No sex or violence. The sort of film you could watch with your Grandma and kids.
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on 30 January 2011
Good Old Fashon Story,The Island At The Top Of The World [DVD] [1974] Good For The Kids An Adults Alike
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on 21 March 2014
I have always liked films of this genre Excelent story great filminf . A film for all the family to enjoy.
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on 11 July 2015
Fantastic film, great for family viewing. They don't make good films like this any more.
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on 17 June 2016
Its an ok film. Not as good as i thought being a disney film. But it is an old film.xx
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