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The Illustrated Man (1969)

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In 1930s, a psychotic drifter who's after the mystery woman who covered his whole body in illustrations that foresee distant future shows three of them (The Veldt, The Long Rain and The Last Night of the World) to a mesmerized traveler.

Director:

Jack Smight

Writers:

Ray Bradbury (book), Howard B. Kreitsek (screenplay)
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1 nomination. See more awards »

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Collection of stories featuring different characters. The recurring theme is the conflict of the cold mechanics of technology and the intimacy of human nature. The unrelated stories are ... See full summary »

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Cast

Complete credited cast:
Rod Steiger ... Carl
Claire Bloom ... Felicia
Robert Drivas ... Willie
Don Dubbins ... Pickard
Jason Evers ... Simmons
Tim Weldon Tim Weldon ... John
Christine Matchett Christine Matchett ... Anna (as Christie Matchett)
Pogo Pogo ... Peke
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Storyline

The Illustrated Man is classic Bradbury, a collection of eighteen startling visions of humankind's destiny, unfolding across a canvas of decorated skin, visions as keen as the tattooist's needle and as colorful as the inks that indelibly stain the body. The images, ideas, sounds and scents that abound in this phantasmagoric sideshow are provocative and powerful: the mournful cries of celestial travelers cast out cruelly into a vast space of stars and blackness, the sight of gray dust settling over a forgotten outpost on a road that leads nowhere, the pungent odor of Jupiter on a returning father's clothing. Here living cities take their vengeance, technology awakens the most primal natural instincts, Martian invasions are foiled by the good life and the glad hand, and dreams are carried aloft in junkyard rockets. Written by Stig Ohara

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

Don't dare stare at the illustrated man.


Certificate:

PG | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

26 March 1969 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Der Tätowierte See more »

Company Credits

Production Co:

SKM See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono

Color:

Color (Technicolor)

Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Kirk Douglas was keen to play the lead role. He had also previously owned the rights to' Ray Bradbury''s " Something Wicked This Way Comes " and "The Martian Chronicles ". See more »

Goofs

Just after Felicia has finished drawing the rose on Carl's hand, his hand is resting on a pillow and the rose can be seen in close-up. It is surrounded by four green leaves. Felicia then takes Carl outside to "look at it in the sunlight". Once outside, it can be seen that the rose is now surrounded by five green leaves. The leaves are also differently shaped. See more »

Quotes

[first lines]
Felicia: Each person who tries to see beyond his own time must face questions to which there cannot yet be proven answers.
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Crazy Credits

Wild animals affection-trained at Africa, U.S.A. See more »

Connections

Referenced in Mystery Science Theater 3000: Indestructible Man (1992) See more »

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User Reviews

 
Dated, but the core still shines bright.
19 September 2007 | by MuldwychSee all my reviews

'The Illustrated Man' shows how good a writer Ray Bradbury was, not to mention how his head was full of fascinating ideas. It shows this because the film is incredibly dated today, from the acting styles to the visions of the future we witness. And yet I remained engrossed throughout, because beneath the anachronisms and barmy notions lie the same powerful film that resonated with me as a child.

A lot of the film has little to do with the title character, although Rod Steiger's menacing performance will never let you forget the man with all-over body tattoos that come to life if you stare too hard. Also, Steiger himself has multiple roles throughout, and he delivers them with a mix of the theatrical bellow and long-faced stoicism of the period, but they still have their impact. Meanwhile of greater interest are the short stories each tattoo reveals. Like Bradbury's 'The Martian Chronicles', this film is a collection of tales woven around a central premise. We view his fears about where human society is heading, thanks to the all-pervading intrusion of technology into our lives.

I'm reminded of a Poe line - "without music or an intriguing idea, colour becomes pallor, man becomes carcass, home becomes catacomb, and the dead are but for a moment motionless". What becomes of the human soul when the machines take over? Add the all-embracing pallor and single-chrome fashion of a typical 1960s vision of the future, and you have a very bleak picture indeed. Yet that's how people saw things then (our guesses on things to come will look just as ridiculous soon enough), and the central theme, given how far we've progressed technologically in the interim, cannot be any less relevant. I'm glad our modern perspective yearns for more colour though - never mind technology killing our souls - the achromatic architecture would make anyone suicidal enough already.

Sojourns into futurity do of course suggest sci-fi trappings. Even putting aside the fact that predictions of the future quickly become dated, Ray Bradbury was never scientifically accurate at the time he wrote his stories. In 'The Martian Chronicles' for example, it is possible to breathe on Mars, water flows through canals, and a few blasts from a rocket's engines can terraform the atmosphere. 'The Illustrated Man' takes the same liberties with reality. Yet to dismiss it because of nonsensical scientific premises is to miss the point. The settings are not more than fabulous window dressing - fantasy masquerading as sci-fi. It is the exploration of the human condition in each tale that Bradbury is concerned with, and they are timeless.

As such, while time has not been entirely kind to this screen adaption of 'The Illustrated Man', its emotional core remains intact. The Bradbury flair for the weird and the wonderful is untarnished, and his thoughts still clear. You just need to take a good long look at a rainbow afterwards.


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