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A view on Blu-ray by Gary W. Tooze

The Bubble aka 'Fantastic Invasion of Planet Earth' (3D and 2D) [Blu-ray]


(Arch Oboler, 1966)


3-D Blu-rays Reviewed at DVDBeaver:


Review by Gary Tooze



Theatrical: Allied Artists Productions

Video: Kino Lorber



Region: FREE (as verified by the Oppo Blu-ray player)

Runtime: 1:31:00.037 

Disc Size: 33,922,077,884 bytes

Feature Size: 28,252,323,840 bytes

Video Bitrate: 25.02 Mbps

Chapters: 8

Case: Standard Blu-ray case

Release date: November 18th, 2014



Aspect ratio: 2.50:1

Resolution: 1080p / 23.976 fps

Video codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video



DTS-HD Master Audio English 1567 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 1567 kbps / 24-bit (DTS Core: 2.0 / 48 kHz / 1509 kbps / 24-bit)






Alt-Opening (2-D + 3-D) (:31)

Essay by Bob Furmanek

Restoration Demonstration (2-D + 3-D) (1:42)

Screenplay Excerpts of Deleted Scenes (16:01)

Stills Gallery (2-D)

1966 Trailer (1:42)

1976 Re-Release Trailer (1:12)





Description: THE BUBBLE is the ""eerie and enjoyable"" (Los Angeles Times) science-fiction spine-tingler that shocked audiences and revolutionized the cinematic world of 3-D! The eye-popping thrills and chills begin when a plane carrying pregnant Catherine (Deborah Walley) and her husband Mark (Michael Cole) is forced to land in a mysterious remote town. The townspeople are quite strange, indeed: they repeat certain phrases and movements ceaselessly and stagger through the streets like brain-dead automatons. Then there is an even more terrifying discovery - the zombie inhabitants live under an impenetrable dome, trapped like insects in a jar. Can Catherine, Mark and their newborn baby escape The Bubble, or will they become mindless drones trapped in a human zoo?

THE BUBBLE introduced the ground-breaking Space-Vision 3-D system, which pioneered a new way of both shooting and exhibiting 3-D film. These single-strip 35mm stereoscopic techniques were used in almost all major 3-D features for the next thirty years, making THE BUBBLE not only an ""amazing"" (Hollywood Reporter) sci-fi thriller, but also an important milestone in the history of cinema. Now fully restored from the 35mm negatives by the 3-D Film Archive.



The Film:

This sci-fi outing was originally released in 3-Dimensional "Spacevision" and tells the tale of a young couple who go for a fun day of flying and end up forced into a gigantic plastic bubble during a sudden violent storm. Inside the inverted bowl is an apparently empty ghost town, that on further inspection proves to be filled with old movie props and strange "residents" who seem to suffer from a bizarre form of echolalia.

Excerpt from MRQE located HERE

Arch Oboler had a hit with the first full-length movie in 3-D, BWANA DEVIL. Here he is, returning to the process 14 years later (though it's redubbed "space vision" here), long afer the 3-D craze had passed. One of the main attractions here is that the movie really works the 3-D angle; one almost expects Dr. Tongue to appear. Unfortunately, the story is an exercise in frustration. It starts out well enough due to the mysterious premise, but it's another one of those movies which is cluttered with character-developing moments. Now, there really is nothing wrong with character development if the characters are essential to the movie or help drive the plot in some way, but here, it feels more like an attempt to pad the film than anything else.

Excerpt from Fantastic Movie Musings and Ramblings located HERE

The Bubble utilizes many gimmick shots that serve only to showcase the 3-D, which in 1966, after a dozen years' near-total absence from U.S. screens, was once again a novelty interesting in itself. Some gimmicks are marginally plot-related, such as Katherine reaching out to greet her husband, her arms stretching out to the viewer, but many are not. An electrical worker climbs up a power pole, the pole shown from above so that it projects out into the audience. Various objects are thrust out at the viewer. For no logical reason, a tray of beers defies gravity and slowly floats out of the screen to waft about in midair and tantalize the audience for a while before slowly returning. Scenes of vacant-faced townspeople strolling along the sidewalk in a daze while repeatedly opening and closing umbrellas, prolonged beyond any storytelling necessity, are revisited at intervals. Much of this gratuitous footage was trimmed out before later re-releases, unburdening the film of roughly twenty minutes of its original nearly two-hour running time.

Excerpt from Wikipedias located HERE

Arch Oboler’s landmark 1966 production THE BUBBLE was the first stereoscopic motion picture filmed in 4-D Space-Vision - a revolutionary new lens and projection system that enabled high-quality polarized widescreen projection from a single-strip of 35mm film.

One of the selling points with 4-D Space-Vision was its ability to make objects in the scene actually appear to leave the screen and float into the audience – completely detached from the screen.

But how new was Space-Vision in 1966? The truth is rather surprising for it had been on the drawing boards for many years, predating the 3-D boom of 1953.

Unless otherwise noted, all of the films and lens systems described in the following article were projected with polarized light. Also, while single-strip 3-D work was ongoing in Europe and Russia during this period, my article focuses on the work that was done in the United States.

Excerpt from Bob Furmanek's 3-D Archive located HERE

Image :    NOTE: The below Blu-ray captures were taken directly from the Blu-ray disc.

Firstly, this Kino Lorber Blu-ray package offers both the 3D and 2D (Standard) versions of the film, The Bubble. We will only review the 2D version here.

NOTE: When viewed on a compatible 3-D monitor and 3-D blu-ray player set-up, the menu offers an option for both 3-D and 2-D playback, but when this disc is viewed on a regular 2-D monitor and 2-D blu-ray player, the 3-D version button is visible but not accessible -- the "Play Movie" option works only with the 2-D version -- there is nothing wrong with your disc, the specialized encoding merely prevents the 3-D version being incorrectly displayed on a 2-D screen.


The restoration of Arch Oboler's THE BUBBLE was been selected by the Museum of Modern Art as part of "To Save and Project: the 12th MoMA International Festival of Film Preservation". You can find out all about the film from Bob Furmanek's article HERE. This is dual-layered with a supportive bitrate and The Bubble has quite a history. The Blu-ray transfer from Kino Lorber Films is as modest as the original film production. The condition of the source and restoration work done are quite remarkable - as evidenced by the Furmanek article. There is a film-like quality to the visuals, the 2-D looks fairly flat and contrast wavers a bit throughout - but it does improve as the film runs.  There are a few speckles and most of the footage is certainly watchable in 1080P - as evidenced by the 2.50:1 screen captures below.  The Blu-ray provided an appreciated presentation noting all the restoration hurdles circumvented. Mastered from the single-strip over/under OCN, this 3-D feature presented a whole different set of challenges from their (Furmanek and co.) first release Dragonfly Squadron.


















Audio :

Audio in the form of a DTS-HD Master stereo track at 1567 kbps. It is fairly unremarkable and occasionally rough with effects limited to the budget. The Paul Sawtell (Silver City, The Fly, Denver and Rio Grande) and Bert Shefter (teaming with Sawtell on She-Devil and Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea) score has some minor impact but is not demonstrative - impacting on the narrative.  There are no subtitles and my Oppo has identified it as being a region FREE - playable on Blu-ray machines worldwide.



Extras :

There is some bona-fide here with 'Alt-Openings' and 'Restoration Demonstrations' in both 2-D + 3-D, plus through a computer you can access the essay by Bob Furmanek. There are some text screenplay excerpts of Deleted Scenes, an extensive stills gallery and both 1966 original trailer and a 1976 Re-Release trailer.



Once again, I was able to watch the 3-D on a friend's system and the effects are numerous. The restoration of The Bubble is a lot of fun and its history extremely fascinating. The film, itself, is pure trash, but it does have a weird, appealing intangible. This type of archival work and production to consumer Blu-ray is vital. I was thankful to actually see this and those keen on this historical 3-D format should dive in head first. Ditto for those interested in cinema 'so bad it's good'. Recommended! 

Gary Tooze

November 4th, 2014

About the Reviewer: Hello, fellow Beavers! I have been interested in film since I viewed a Chaplin festival on PBS when I was around 9 years old. I credit DVD with expanding my horizons to fill an almost ravenous desire to seek out new film experiences. I currently own approximately 9500 DVDs and have reviewed over 5000 myself. I appreciate my discussion Listserv for furthering my film education and inspiring me to continue running DVDBeaver. Plus a healthy thanks to those who donate and use our Amazon links.

Although I never wanted to become one of those guys who focused 'too much' on image and sound quality - I find HD is swiftly pushing me in that direction.

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Gary W. Tooze





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