THE BUBBLE — Written, directed and produced by Arch Oboler. Starring Michael Cole, Deborah Walley and Johnny Desmond. Distributed by LMG. Cert ‘A’.
Sometimes gimmicks work, sometimes they don’t. The idea of 3D seemed a perfect one in the fifties for halting the decline in cinema audiences. But, as cinema historians will remember, 3D was a dismal failure. The special glasses needed to be worn were a nuisance and the films that were only partly produced in the new ‘wonder’ process ruined the continuity of the whole film. And in general, apart from one or two notable exceptions, ie House Of Wax, the gimmick was little more than a lot of spectacular advance publicity.
Despite the past, at the beginning of 1973, along comes Space-Vision. And this time the gimmick is far more than just a novelty, for this newly developed technique really adds another dimension to popular cinema, without the amateurishness and limitations of the earlier process. The vehicle to introduce Space-Vision is a science fiction film called The Bubble.
The story tells of a young married couple, Catherine (Deborah Walley) and Mark (Michael Cole). At the beginning of the film they are aboard a small plane that lands in what they and their pilot Tony (Johnny Desmond) suppose is a small outlying landing strip. The wife is prematurely in labour, thus the necessity to reach a town and find medical aid. After touching down they discover that they have in fact, landed in a deserted street. Mike, the husband, soon notices the oddness of the nearby town’s inhabitants and the strangely miscellaneous architecture as he wanders around whilst his wife is giving birth to their first child in the local hospital. And a few days later, Mike and Catherine, along with their baby and the pilot, Tony, discover that the town and the surrounding area is covered by an impenetrable transparent bubble. To tell you more of the story would spoil the twists and turns of the plot as well as giving a way the final outcome, to any of you who may go along to see the film for yourselves.
The film, despite the somewhat vague storyline at times and the often wooden acting, has a number of simple social messages to put across, similar to Don Siegel’s Invasion of the Body Snatchers. And The Bubble, considering the entertainment level it is working on, is fairly successful and frequently becomes quite exciting.
But it is the Space-Vision technique that makes the whole production such good entertainment. It’s a must for kids of course, and will also give much pleasure to those who are not averse to honest to goodness fun. Some of the effects are a bit corny now and again, as they nearly all were with 3D, but more often than not they are deservedly successful and at times quite amazing.
Objects really do appear to leave the screen and come gliding out into the auditorium. The audience still has to wear special viewing glasses, this supposedly accounts for the rise in seat prices for this film. The glasses though are not uncomfortable to wear, as the 3D ones were, and they are easy to slip on top of an ordinary pair of spectacles. Incidentally the use of the added dimension is continuous throughout the show.
The Bubble is a fun film with a message if you care to notice it. The movie is also a valid attempt to bring excitement and adventure back to the cinema. I am looking forward to seeing more films using the Space-Vision process in the future.