"...smaller-scale visual narratives have been flourishing on the Internet, delivering topical satire, political commentary and slices of real-life absurdity with a nimbleness and speed that makes both conventional film and traditional television seem unwieldy. Movies, meanwhile, are once again responding by growing louder, brighter and more sensational. Imax and variously improved 3-D formats are becoming more popular with the movie studios, even as the widespread use of digital effects gives their products less and less resemblance to traditional cinema."
A. O. Scott, "The Screening of America," NY Times Magazine, 11/21/08
Hollywood's natural inclination to show us an otherworldly environment is to throw a ton of money at computer graphics and show us every digitized pixel in the Center of the Earth. Obscene amounts of money, especially in today's economic environment. But it doesn't have to be that way. Check out these fantastic scenarios, from the days before CGI. I find these flicks far more fascinating than anything on Isla Nublar.
Orphée - film run backwards, hands plunging into mercury - that's all it takes to get you from this world to an afterlife.
Cube - essentially filmed on one set, which gave the director more money for special effects, including a couple of process shots. But the movie would be just as disturbing without all the slicing and dicing. Available complete on Google Video.
Primer - a nifty time-travel film, made for $7,000. Granted, it gets incoherent near the end. But it was made for $7,000. Also available on Google Video.
Fahrenheit 451 - couples Bernard Herrmann's music with the ramrod-straight firemen on an open red fire truck to portray a society in which books are illegal.
Jason and the Argonauts - Herrmann again, bleating low rumbling brass notes to accompany the sight of an impossibly huge statue. And then that statue turns its head...
La Belle et La Bete - the real movie magic happens at 2:25 in this clip.