When Dinosaurs Ruled the Earth (1971)

G | 96 or 100 mins | Horror | February 1971

Director:

Val Guest

Writer:

Val Guest

Producer:

Aida Young

Cinematographer:

Dick Bush

Editor:

Peter Curran

Production Designer:

John Blezard

Production Companies:

Hammer Film Productions, Ltd., Warner Bros., Inc.
Full page view
HISTORY

An onscreen credit reads: "Made at Shepperton Studios Limited, Shepperton, Middlesex, England, and on location in the Canary Islands." The first scene begins with an unseen narrator explaining that it is a time of man's fear of the unknown, before the moon had first appeared. Following this, the rest of the film's dialogue is in an invented caveman language. According to the HR review, the dialogue consisted of a "27-word vocabulary synthesized from Latin, Sanscrit and Phoenician."
       An Oct 1968 Var news item stated that When Dinosaurs Ruled the Earth was "being shaped" for distribution by the Warner Bros. subsidiary 7 Arts, which had at that time been renamed W7. However, all contemporary sources list only Warner Bros. Upon its release in England in Oct 1970, the film was titled When Dinosaurs Ruled the World and ran for 100 minutes. For its Feb 1971 American release, the film was cut to 96 minutes and retitled When Dinosaurs Ruled the Earth . Jim Danforth and Roger Dicken received an Academy Award nomination for Best Achievement in Special Visual Effects. Star Victoria Vetri was Playboy 's 1968 Playmate of the Year, then using the name Angela ... More Less

An onscreen credit reads: "Made at Shepperton Studios Limited, Shepperton, Middlesex, England, and on location in the Canary Islands." The first scene begins with an unseen narrator explaining that it is a time of man's fear of the unknown, before the moon had first appeared. Following this, the rest of the film's dialogue is in an invented caveman language. According to the HR review, the dialogue consisted of a "27-word vocabulary synthesized from Latin, Sanscrit and Phoenician."
       An Oct 1968 Var news item stated that When Dinosaurs Ruled the Earth was "being shaped" for distribution by the Warner Bros. subsidiary 7 Arts, which had at that time been renamed W7. However, all contemporary sources list only Warner Bros. Upon its release in England in Oct 1970, the film was titled When Dinosaurs Ruled the World and ran for 100 minutes. For its Feb 1971 American release, the film was cut to 96 minutes and retitled When Dinosaurs Ruled the Earth . Jim Danforth and Roger Dicken received an Academy Award nomination for Best Achievement in Special Visual Effects. Star Victoria Vetri was Playboy 's 1968 Playmate of the Year, then using the name Angela Dorian. More Less

BIBLIOGRAPHIC SOURCES
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Box Office
7 Feb 1971.
---
Daily Variety
3 Jan 1969.
---
Daily Variety
6 Oct 1970
pp. 3-4.
Daily Variety
18 Jan 1971.
---
Filmfacts
1971
pp. 29-30.
Films and Filming
Jan 1971.
---
Hollywood Reporter
20 Jan 1971.
---
Los Angeles Herald Examiner
3 Mar 1971
Section B, p. 1.
Los Angeles Times
5 Mar 1971.
---
New York Times
18 Mar 1971
p. 46.
Variety
23 Oct 1968.
---
Variety
14 Oct 1970
p. 28.
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Dir
Asst dir
PRODUCER
Prod
WRITERS
Wrt for the screen by
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
2d unit cam
ART DIRECTOR
Art dir
FILM EDITOR
SET DECORATOR
Const mgr
COSTUMES
Cost des
Ward master
MUSIC
Mus and spec mus eff comp
Mus supv
SOUND
Dubbing mixer
VISUAL EFFECTS
Spec visual eff
Spec eff
Spec eff
Spec eff
MAKEUP
Makeup supv
Hairdressing supv
PRODUCTION MISC
2d unit cont
DETAILS
Alternate Title:
When Dinosaurs Ruled the World
Release Date:
February 1971
Premiere Information:
London opening: 1 October 1970
Production Date:
14 October 1968--early January 1969 at Shepperton Studios, Shepperton, Middlesex, England
Copyright Claimant:
Hammer Film Productions, Ltd.
Copyright Date:
1 October 1970
Copyright Number:
LF119
Physical Properties:
Sound
Color
Technicolor
Duration(in mins):
96 or 100
MPAA Rating:
G
Countries:
United Kingdom, United States
Language:
English
SYNOPSIS

In prehistoric times, before the moon’s first appearance, the Rock Tribe habitually sacrifices its rare, female blondes to the sun god. As three girls, including Sanna, await their deaths, a piece of the sun breaks off, forming the moon, which in turn causes a massive wind storm. While tribe members are swept into the sea, Sanna falls into the water but is rescued by fishermen from the neighboring Sand Tribe, one of whom, Tara, is instantly attracted to her. Blaming Sanna for the natural disaster, the Rock Tribe chief, Kingsor, plans an expedition to find her while the fishermen take her to their tribe, whose women joyously embrace the returning men. One of them, Ayak, is thrilled to see Tara until she notices his preoccupation with Sanna, who is widely admired for her hair color. As their chief accepts her into the tribe, a dinosaur appears and the men band together to fight it. Tara and his best friend ingeniously trap the beast with fire, finally saving their brethren. That night, while they celebrate with dancing and a feast, Sanna constructs a hut nearby. To Ayak’s displeasure, Tara leaves the celebration to visit Sanna, and in private gives her his bone necklace. Soon after, as Tara leaves for another fishing trip, Kingsor and his men see the moon rise, increasing their determination to find and kill Sanna. After Ayak discovers Tara’s necklace in Sanna’s tent, she incites the other women to confront Sanna on the beach. The two women fight until the Sand Tribe chief interrupts them, ruling that Sanna can keep the necklace. The Rock tribesmen soon arrive, but Sanna spots them from afar and flees into the ... +


In prehistoric times, before the moon’s first appearance, the Rock Tribe habitually sacrifices its rare, female blondes to the sun god. As three girls, including Sanna, await their deaths, a piece of the sun breaks off, forming the moon, which in turn causes a massive wind storm. While tribe members are swept into the sea, Sanna falls into the water but is rescued by fishermen from the neighboring Sand Tribe, one of whom, Tara, is instantly attracted to her. Blaming Sanna for the natural disaster, the Rock Tribe chief, Kingsor, plans an expedition to find her while the fishermen take her to their tribe, whose women joyously embrace the returning men. One of them, Ayak, is thrilled to see Tara until she notices his preoccupation with Sanna, who is widely admired for her hair color. As their chief accepts her into the tribe, a dinosaur appears and the men band together to fight it. Tara and his best friend ingeniously trap the beast with fire, finally saving their brethren. That night, while they celebrate with dancing and a feast, Sanna constructs a hut nearby. To Ayak’s displeasure, Tara leaves the celebration to visit Sanna, and in private gives her his bone necklace. Soon after, as Tara leaves for another fishing trip, Kingsor and his men see the moon rise, increasing their determination to find and kill Sanna. After Ayak discovers Tara’s necklace in Sanna’s tent, she incites the other women to confront Sanna on the beach. The two women fight until the Sand Tribe chief interrupts them, ruling that Sanna can keep the necklace. The Rock tribesmen soon arrive, but Sanna spots them from afar and flees into the nearby jungle. As the men follow her tracks, she climbs a tree to hide. A python crawls across her stomach, but she remains still and silent until it slides off her and attacks one of the men. Unable to save their friend, the other men continue on, entering a cave where they assume Sanna is hiding. There, they wake a brontosaurus, which attacks the men, wounding one and killing another. After the dinosaur retreats back into the cave, pterodactyls circle the wounded man, who fights them off weakly. That night, the fishermen return, and upon hearing of Sanna’s flight, Tara takes three friends to search the jungle. Hearing the wounded man yell for help, they rescue him and Tara bravely lures the brontosaurus over a cliff to its death. That night the two tribes conduct a funeral and burial at sea for their dead. Still afraid of the moon, Kingsor demands justice against Sanna, inciting the others to riot and set fire to her tent. Tara tries to reason with them but faced with their fervor, walks off into the jungle alone. Meanwhile, Sanna is wandering the jungle trying to evade the dinosaur. She hides in a plant, but it attacks and almost swallows her, forcing her to cut off her hair to escape. Tara soon spots the remnants of her hair and mourns her for dead. As the sun rises, Sanna takes shelter in an empty dinosaur egg, not realizing that the adjacent egg is just hatching. As the baby dinosaur emerges, Tara returns Sanna’s hair to Kingsor. Ayak attempts to console Tara, but he can think only of Sanna, not knowing that at the same time, the mother dinosaur has returned with food for her baby, and now assumes that Sanna is another of her children. Over the next weeks, Sanna bonds with the mother dinosaur and tames her and the baby until they are living as a family, while Tara continues to search for her. One day, she spots him and two others nearby, attacking the mother dinosaur. Sanna calls the beast off, but the men do not see her and rush away. Tara then visits the Rock Tribe and, seeing the blonde women there, reminisces about Sanna and leads the tribesmen away from a mother secretly dying her child’s blonde hair black with tar. Just then, a pterodactyl attacks Tara, scooping him up in its claws and depositing him in its nest. Tara manages to spear it and climb out unharmed, and from the height of the nest is able to see Sanna. Noting the mother dinosaur nearby, he assumes she is in danger and races to help her, but she explains her relationship to the animal, to his amazement. They go back to her cave and make love. The next morning, he returns to the tribe, who demand to know where Sanna is. When he refuses to reveal her location, Kingsor orders him killed, despite the Sand Tribe chief’s pleas for restraint. Tara fights, but is overwhelmed and tied to a wooden pyre that is set on fire and set adrift in the ocean. When a huge dinosaur suddenly rises from the water and grabs him, the people exult, not realizing that he has broken free. That night, as the tribe members uneasily witness the moon’s rising, Tara stumbles back to Sanna. She tends to him for days, and as he recovers, Kingsor spots the smoke from her fire in the distance and brings his men to investigate. Seeing the men approach, Tara grabs Sanna and they dive into the river to escape. Closely pursued, the couple climbs a rocky hill and hides behind a boulder. When Sanna slips and almost falls to her death, Tara saves her, after which they run from a pair of dinosaurs fighting nearby. Eventually the tribesmen capture the couple, but the mother dinosaur comes to the rescue, picking up Sanna and carrying her off. Tara, however, is taken back to tribe as then moon swirls ominously in sky. Once again he is tied to stakes and is about to be sacrificed to the moon when the tribe members are attacked by a giant crab. Just then, a huge tidal wave swells toward them. As everyone flees, Tara, tied to the stake, is helpless until Sanna arrives and frees him. While Kingsor attempts to hold off the wave with his bare hands, Ayak is sucked down into a pit of quicksand, despite Tara’s attempt to rescue her. Tara’s best friend and his girl friend jump onto a raft to ride out the tidal wave, and as Sanna and Tara join them, Kingsor tries to commandeer the vessel. Tara fights him off, and just as the wave destroys the beach, the foursome escapes out onto the ocean. They tie themselves to the raft to stay alive, and hours later return to the now peaceful land. Realizing that they are the only survivors, they watch a lunar eclipse with respectful awe. +

Legend
Viewed by AFI
Partially Viewed
Offscreen Credit
Name Occurs Before Title
AFI Life Achievement Award

TOP SEARCHES

CASABLANCA

During World War II, Casablanca, Morocco is a waiting point for throngs of desperate refugees fleeing Nazi-occupied Europe. Exit visas, which are necessary to leave the country, are at ... >>

CITIZEN KANE

Seventy-year-old newspaper tycoon Charles Foster Kane dies in his palatial Florida home, Xanadu, after uttering the single word “Rosebud.” While watching a newsreel summarizing the years during which Kane ... >>

REAR WINDOW

Laid up with a broken leg during the height of summer, renowned New York magazine photographer L. B. “Jeff” Jeffries enters his last week of home confinement, bored and ... >>

RAGING BULL

In 1941, at a boxing match in Cleveland, Ohio, pandemonium breaks out when Jake La Motta, an up-and-coming young boxer, loses a decision to Jimmy Reeves, suffering his first ... >>

CITY LIGHTS

At an outdoor dedication ceremony, a tramp is discovered sleeping in the arms of a statue as it is being unveiled before a crowd. He is chased into ... >>

The American Film Institute is grateful to Sir Paul Getty KBE and the Sir Paul Getty KBE Estate for their dedication to the art of the moving image and their support for the AFI Catalog of Feature Films and without whose support AFI would not have been able to achieve this historical landmark in this epic scholarly endeavor.