The Nine

Sound is overwhelming in These Are the Damned. That’s important. In the background, busy city streets nearly beat out the dialog for dominance. Near a shoreline, ocean waves spill over the rocks, loudly blotting the story’s key moments. That’s not a fault, but life as it is.

These Are the Damned is a concentrated allegory. In terms of nuclear age cinema, few carry a more grueling finish without setting off a bomb. Children cry for help, their calls unheard because modern civilization drowns their words. Hence why the intentional soundtrack matters so much, playing to a society so insular, no one hears the pleadings from children and for adults to stop their erroneous ways.

To say These Are the Damned is critical toward modern life’s ignorance understates its effectiveness

For well over 30-minutes, These Are the Damned looks down at British culture via the ‘60s. Motorcycle gangs, sexual deviance, aggression, and domineering men suffocate this way of life. The camera leers at the overly sexualized Joan (Shirley Anne Field), choosing provocative angles to maximize the oft-cited male gaze. Rather than exploit though, These Are the Damned uses Joan as a proper object, demeaning her to depict a loss in civility. Like the men fighting for/over her, women like Joan were made into visuals, not people.

When arriving at its central theme, These Are the Damned casts doubts as to the solution. The seediness transfers from the streetside villains to a secretive military project, and given the moral corruption seen before, it’s a wonder if this is any worse. To say These Are the Damned is critical toward modern life’s ignorance understates its effectiveness at depicting generational divides, lifestyles, and various post-war ills.

There’s value in the first act running overlong, making sure to stretch its critique as to capture and lay blame on all. In that, These Are the Damned is crowded, minimizing the engaging sci-fi, if well constructed as to not care.

Within the Cold War paranoia is a General who sees no solution other than enslaving nine special children – he’s not inherently wrong, protecting others from the kids as much as the kids from lasting trauma. The absolute quagmire stemming from lingering radiation and humanity’s lone future doesn’t offer a safe answer. There isn’t one, desperate as These Are the Damned is in asking for one. This pessimistic worldview doesn’t see anything other than a worst case, and a future in which only nine will preserve existence. What a unique, unnerving statement, even decades later.

Video

Although marred by slightly heavy compression, Mill Creek’s source material is beautiful. Graciously high resolution keeps detail flowing, even remarkably so. Close-ups drive definition, and shots of British streets overflow with detail. Roads, buildings, shorelines and the like explode in precise textures. They Are the Damned does not look its age.

Preservation leaves few spots behind, some effects shots aside. Mostly, the limited dirt/damage barely leave a dent, allowing the grain structure free reign. Only the compression causes concern, robbing the pure filmic quality, if to a limited degree.

In maintaining the black & white source, calibration nails gray scale. Brilliant whites properly clash with black leather jackets and shadows. Depth is sensational and thick, exhibiting stellar range to preserve the source as intended. Premium material, limited only by thinly detectable artifacts.

Audio

Rough in clarity, even harsh, the sonic space isn’t anything memorable, just adequate. Uncompressed DTS-HD does what it can to handle the purposefully noisy source, ambiance loud against obviously dubbed dialog. Said design inherently limits the potential.

At least the score brings its best, treble pure, even if range stagnates within this mono source.

Extras

Nothing.

These Are the Damned
  • Video
  • Audio
  • Extras
4

Movie

Pessimistic and cruel, These Are the Damned provides a capable nuclear-era parable that’s still effective decades later.

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