Retro-Analysis: Amazing Journey (1966). Lysergy, Cold War, Isaac Asimov and… Raquel Welch – The things that make us happy

In an era full of sensations, it premiered amazing trip (Fantastic Voyage), which, led by Richard Fleischer, proposed a submarine trip inside the human body. Today we revisit this classic 1966 unfairly undervalued.

For some reason I don’t understand amazing trip It doesn’t often come up when mentioning the sci-fi movies that set the ’60s on fire, yet it’s a groundbreaking classic that blazed a trail. Travel movies, of course, have always existed and those about submarines had already given several successes in previous decades: the Richard Fleischer had directed in 1954 the adaptation for Disney of Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Seathe classic novel Julio Verne.

But sending a scientific mission through a human’s bloodstream? That had never been done before and it also meant the first meeting between Issac Asimov and the cinema, although not in a conventional way, since the story is based on a short story of Otto Clement Y Jerome Bixbyadapted in turn by the script of Harry Kleiner Y David Duncan.

What was Asimov’s role then? In the film itself, none, but he was commissioned to novelize it, which, to add to the confusion, was published six months before the premiere. “The book comes from the movie and not the other way around, but I think they will never understand”, Said the prestigious science fiction writer sarcastically.

But, of course, we were in the middle of the cold war and we must add that 1966 It’s not just any year Beatles edited Stir and the beach boys they threw Pet Soundswhile pink floyd he took his first steps in some London slum; there was no way, therefore, that the film of the Fox escape the psychedelic tide that invaded everything…

Destination: Brain

The story begins with a scientist surnamed Beneswho has requested asylum in the USA from the other side of the “Iron courtain” (although there is no direct mention of the Soviet Union and it only says “the other side”). an agent of the INC called Charles Grant (Stephen Boyd) is assigned to his protection and even manages to foil a kidnapping attempt on the way from the airport, but Benes is left with a serious brain injury.

Until then, it seems like just another spy, but the real story begins when you arrive at a secret government laboratory, where they are working on a miniaturization project consisting of compressing the cells and molecules of a living organism until it is reduced to the size of a microbe. .

The problem is that they can’t do it for more than sixty minutes and that’s where Benes comes in to play, who seems to have found the key to stretch that period. The information he has is essential for safety and the project, which makes him an experimental subject so that, by means of a syringe, a tiny submarine called proteus Enter, with its miniaturized crew, into the bloodstream to reach the brain and destroy the clot: all this, of course, in sixty minutes or else they will begin to grow with terrible consequences for the patient.

The mission is made up of the Grantin addition to the submarine captain Bill Owens (William Redfield), who will have to guide the ship through an entirely different environment than the one with which he is familiar. Medical personnel are also required and two eminences travel on board, such as surgeons Duval Y Michael’sinterpreted respectively by Arthur Kennedy Y Donald Pleasure, of whom we can verify that he was always bald. The counterpoint between these two characters is interesting, one rationalist to the extreme and the other with a religious-mystical discourse bordering on fundamentalism.

Retro Analysis Amazing Journey 1966 Lysergy Cold War Isaac Asimov and

But the crew wouldn’t be complete without mentioning her to she: Cora Peterson she is Duval’s sexy assistant, as well as a technological genius and responsible for the “weapon” they will use against brain injury. She is played by Rachel Welchemblematic sex symbol of the time that in the same year she would have her most iconic role with a sensual leather bikini in does un Million Years (Don Chaffey, 1966). Neither prehistoric women would look like this nor a technology expert, but her body gave the film extra appeal. It must be admitted that, in any case, they hardly undress her (the plot does not justify it, but that was never a problem), although she looks wonderful in her diving suit.

1668262898 298 Retro Analysis Amazing Journey 1966 Lysergy Cold War Isaac Asimov and

psychedelic trip

The story unfolds in parallel in two areas: on the one hand, the submarine crew who go through the human body to reach the brain and, on the other, the medical and scientific staff who work in the laboratory while keeping Benes on a stretcher. There are complications or there would be no film: they end up in the wrong artery, they have to fight against antibodies, they run out of oxygen (paradoxically in the lungs), they lose communication, they have to cross the entire heart in less than a minute and on top of everything there is, presumed, a saboteur on board.

But what is interesting is the aesthetic treatment that cannot be detached from the lysergic trip proposed by the counterculture of the time: in fact, the title is a success amazing trip with which the film was released in Spainas opposed to the blandest Fantastic Voyage original or its translation fantastic trip for several Latin American countries.

1668262898 715 Retro Analysis Amazing Journey 1966 Lysergy Cold War Isaac Asimov and

The multicolored world of the blood stream (“I thought it was all red” Grant expresses with surprise), as well as blood cells, antibodies and reticular fibers make up a very acidic universe and not to mention the captain’s cabin, who travels almost abroad as in the spaceships of The Jetsons. The fact that the trip is to the brain is not a minor detail, nor that the antibodies of the immune system are seen as terrifying creatures: something like the true monsters are always the ones we have inside…

The cast is more than correct and each one perfectly fulfills the role of being faced with a totally new experience such as a first dose of LSD. Well, the only exception is logically Welch, who is not there because of her expressiveness (although later she improved a lot and even won a Golden Globe in 1974 by The Three Musketeers).

The aesthetics are very much of the time and the laboratory is full of flashing lights that do not know what function they fulfill but they give a feeling of cutting-edge technology. The visual effects are decent for those years and earned the movie a Oscar in such category.

Final assessment

Amazing Journey is a very entertaining movie from start to finish. The premise is original and impressive and the time management is very interesting, since the story is told practically in real time since they enter the blood. As such, it conveys all the suspense and nervousness that time is running out while the difficulties for the protagonists are happening one after another and the arrival of the mission is in danger. There is no respite and every moment something is happening.

It is not that it does not seek to be a surreal experience: it is not that type of film, nor does it have authorial aspirations similar to 2001: A Space Odyssey, released just two years later. It is a highly entertaining science fiction film that more than fulfills what is proposed and radiates an aesthetic proposal concomitant with the spirit of the times: I would even dare to say that it influenced Yellow Submarine (George Dunning, 1968), another film that would be released two years later (the design of the submarine is not that far away). And it is known that even his own Salvador Dali He loved the film, which is understandable…

It is valid to clarify that Isaac Asimov published in 1987 a novel called Amazing Journey II which, contrary to what the title might seem to imply and what the publisher originally wanted, is not a sequel. The editors wanted Asimov to tell this time a war inside the human body between an American submarine and a Soviet one, which he flatly refused: Russian by birth, demonizations of the “other side” so expensive to the press were never to his liking. cold war era. After two years of legal battles, he ended up writing what he wanted: basically a rewrite of the same story, but much improved in terms of scientific rigor and with names changed for rights reasons.

The film also had (also in 1987) a remake in the key of comedy directed by joe dante and starring a luxury trio as Dennis Quaid, Martin Short Y meg ryan: Far from the innovative dimension of the original, it’s fun and very eighties. Your title is inner space (The Wonder Chip for Spain Y Unusual trip for Latin America), with the particularity that the miniaturized capsule, in this case with a single crew member, is not introduced into the body of any high-ranking scientist but, by mistake, into that of a depressive and unknown supermarket employee.

There is also an animated series 1968which follows the miniaturized group on different missions inside the human body and has been talking for years about a remake produced by james cameron:Originally it was going to be directed by shawn levywith Will Smith Y Hugh Jackman in the leading roles. But that project finally fell through and the names of William of the Bull to direct and David S Goyer to write it (responsible for the scripts of the trilogy Nolan of Dark Knight Y showrunner from the series Foundation). But it’s been a while since there’s been any news and everything seems to be at a standstill…

Trip Alucinante is, in the final balance, one of those films that mark an era, but that are unfairly not later recognized as such.. The invitation to discover it is made and if you saw it in your childhood or youth, try to rediscover it because surely and as it happened to me, you will find things not perceived at the first opportunity…

Guests are then on this amazing trip: see you soon and be happy…

We would love to thank the writer of this article for this awesome content

Retro-Analysis: Amazing Journey (1966). Lysergy, Cold War, Isaac Asimov and… Raquel Welch – The things that make us happy