This movie is excellent in every way. Cast. Direction. Cinematography. FX. Art design. Etc.
This is also the film that famously made Ray Harryhausen retire. Over Go-Motion. Even though they used a stop-motion figure for the dragon, they enhanced it with inter-frame blurring. The FX guys gave Harryhausen a preview and he knew then that his days were done--that computers were going to do it all and that his career as an artisan were over.
I love this film. I can't really find anything at all to criticize when it comes to this movie. It's almost perfect. As such, I should hold it in higher esteem, but for some reason I don't list it among my favorite films. Perhaps there is something subconsciously bugging me about it that I'll have to find on a future viewing. Or maybe I'm just a critical curmudgeon.
I've seen it now probably five or six times (I don't keep count). But pretty much the casting is perfect. Ralph Richardson is spot-on as Ulrich, the last remaining wizard. I think the movie was Albert Salmi's final performance before he committed suicide. The fact is that I can't think of anyone in the movie who turned in a less than excellent performance and for which they were not effectively cast.
Also, the monster, Vermithrax pejorative, is the most perfectly designed dragon that I have ever seen for the movie screen. Anatomically the creature looks right and moves logically and remains both awe-inspiring and terrifying. When it attacks a village it looks like some kind of organic fighter jet spewing napalm.
I'll probably give it a few more viewings before I get tired of seeing it. If there is a flaw that keeps me from placing the movie higher in my esteem, maybe I'll find it.
|Ralph Richardson as Ulrich, the Wizard.|
|Peter MacNicol and Vermithrax pejorative.|
|The late Caitlin Clarke as Valerian.|