Ice Station Zebra (DVD-2005)
Reviewed by Dennis Kwiatkowski
DVD from Warner Home Video is Ice Station Zebra—the cold-war espionage submarine
thriller from 1968 starring Rock Hudson, Ernest Borgnine, Patrick McGoohan (of TV’s The
Prisoner series) and Jim Brown.
Alistair MacLean’s best-selling novel, it tells the story of a secret mission to the North Pole to rescue the crew at
Ice Station Zebra. The Cold War story unfolds with twists, turns and surprises, all amid spectacular underwater special effects
presented in Cinerama, Ice Station Zebra was one of the last films, along with
2001: A Space Odyssey, to be presented in single-lens Cinerama, the successor to
the original three-camera, three-projector Cinerama system. The single lens process
was essentially Super Panavision 70 mm film projected on a curved screen. In this
film, the submarine sequences and ice station vistas benefit the most from the process.
by John Sturges, a director known more for style than substance, (whose films include The
Magnificent Seven, Marooned and The
Great Escape), Ice Station Zebra, like some other films of the period, holds
up better today than it did perhaps then. It is an entertaining thriller, even if
it slows down once or twice, and it contains splendid special effects, though 2001,
released the same year, would completely dominate all films in that category for another decade.
making-of featurette is included on the DVD detailing the work of cameraman John Stevens who developed special camera mounting
for the arresting submarine sequences and who had previously created the camera rigs on those formula-one race cars for the
spectacular racing sequences in the film Grand Prix.
film transfer and a stirring score by Michel Le Grand augment the water and ice sequences and you’ll want to turn up
the furnace or wrap yourself in blankets during the polar scenes. As pure escapist
entertainment, Ice Station Zebra is a satisfying release on DVD.