Journey to the Beginning of Time (1960)

Genres - Adventure, Children's/Family, Fantasy  |   Sub-Genres - Children's Fantasy  |   Run Time - 87 min.  |   Countries - Czechia   |   MPAA Rating - NR
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Review by Craig Butler

If Journey to the Beginning of Time is not a great film, it's nonetheless a quite enjoyable trifle. Terribly dated in terms of the naïveté with which the subject matter is treated, its simplicity may inspire derisive laughter from modern audiences, but there's also something quite appealing in the innocence that fills the film. Modern audiences may also find fault with some of the many special effects and animated sequences, but at the time Journey was made, these were pretty near top-of-the-line. Besides, the artificial nature of some of the stop-motion sequences has a certain charm of its own and does add to the unreal atmosphere of the story. Journey is also a very placid film; although a lot happens, there's very little conflict or real danger; there's also little logic to much of the film, but given the premise, that's fairly forgivable. What works less well are the framing sequences that open and close the film, which were clearly (and unconvincingly) shot with different actors than the quartet used in the main body of the film. The English dubbing is also atrocious, among the worst one is likely to encounter in a professional film. Karel Zeman's direction is less inspired than one might wish, but he does give the film a quiet, comfortable feeling, as well as a pleasant, muted sense of wonder. Despite its flaws, Journey is an enjoyable and diverting trip.