A much maligned film, loosely derived from Ray Bradbury's collection of short stories and spinning out a fascinating triangle relationship which ranges disconcertingly through past, present and future, and in which the three participants never meet on the same time plane. A young hitchhiker (Drivas) encounters a stranger on the road (Steiger) whose skin is covered with fantastic tattoos which foretell the future. They were done, he says, by a witch-woman (Bloom) who disappeared 'back into the future', leaving him to roam the earth like the Wandering Jew in quest of vengeance against the woman who made him an outcast. Fascinated, already falling in love, the young man begins to conjure an image of the witch; and through the Illustrated Man's tattoos, sees three stories from the distant future in which he, the witch and the Illustrated Man play the leading roles, all hingeing obliquely on the betrayal of love, with sometimes one character, sometimes another, becoming the victim. Time suddenly ceases to exist, and the characters are caught in a reenactment of the story of the Garden of Eden (or of Cain and Abel) over a campfire where the Illustrated Man and the young hitchhiker fight a mental/physical battle over their enigmatic, absent Eve. Hesitantly directed by Smight, the script is nevertheless genuinely imaginative, and both settings and performances are admirable.
Each day before shooting, Steiger spent several hours being 'tattooed' for his role as a man whose tattoos each tell a weird story. Based on three futuristic stories by Ray Bradbury, the film is a curious, pretentious, science-fiction morality play. Steiger, mannered and morose, stars with his then-wife Bloom. The tales tell of parents as victims of zombie like children, a space-wrecked crew on another planet, and nearing the end of the world.
Theatrical Release: March 26th, 1969
DVD Review: Warner - Region 1,2,3,4 - NTSC
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|Distribution||Warner Home Video - Region 1,2,3,4 - NTSC|
Average Bitrate: 5.72 mb/s
NTSC 720x480 29.97 f/s
NOTE: The Vertical axis represents the bits transferred per second. The Horizontal is the time in minutes.
|Audio||English (Dolby Digital 1.0), DUB: French (Dolby Digital 1.0)|
featurette: "Tattooed Steiger"
Solid progressive and anamorphic transfer from Warner. With moments of great clarity and virtually artifact free I expect this is a superb representation of the film's theatrical appearance. The mono audio is surprisingly good and a French DUB is offered. The DVD sports only English subtitles.
Extras include a theatrical trailer and 10 minute vintage short on the tattooing process undertaken by Steiger daily during shooting. The highly unique film is an intriguing anomaly. A bit of a Bradbury mish-mash it ends up being quite memorable and effective. I initially saw it 30 years ago and parts of it have never left me. Good value purchase for those keen on this brand of intellectually posturing sci-fi.
Randall!): "The DVD looks wonderful EXCEPTING that at 1:36:17
(approx.) there is a digital artifact the appears near Rod Steigers
chin. I was viewing the DVD on my new Oppo Digital DV-981HD at 720p on a
Maxent 50" Plasma via HDMI. I switched to 480p and the glitch was still
there. I then watched it at 480p via Component on my Pioneer DV-434 and
the glitch still appeared.