Journey to the Beginning of Time

Journey to the Beginning of Time (, literally "Journey into prehistory") is a color 1955 Czechoslovak science fiction adventure film directed by Karel Zeman. Produced using a combination of 2-D and 3-D models, it was the first of Zeman's productions to include actors in conjunction with stop-motion and special effects. It won awards at the International Film Festivals of Venice and Mannheim.


The story involves four teenage friends who take a rowboat along a "river of time" that flows into a mysterious cave and emerges on the other side onto a strange, primeval landscape. The boy actors were Josef Lukáš (Petr, the main narrator), Petr Herrmann (Toník, who also narrates in part), Zdeněk Husták (Jenda), and Vladimír Bejval (Jirka). As they make their way upstream, they realise that they are travelling progressively farther back in time, and face various perils as they do so (but learn much about prehistoric life in the process). The animals depicted in Cesta do pravěku were never shown interacting with animals of other periods and it is assumed that different parts of the river represented distinct time periods. The plot is somewhat similar to that of the novel Plutonia (1915) by the Russian palaeontologist Vladimir Obruchev, in which a team of Russian explorers enter the Earth's crust via an Arctic portal (a huge depression in the Earth surface created many millions of years previously by the impact of a giant asteroid, into which prehistoric animals had entered), and follow a river that leads them through a sequence of past geological eras and associated animal life. Some scenes in Cesta do pravěku recall Arthur Conan Doyle's 1912 novel The Lost World, with four male protagonists exploring a prehistoric world where they find evidence of native human habitation, are attacked by a group of enraged pterosaurs, witness a twilight fight between a carnivorous dinosaur and a herbivorous one, encounter a Stegosaurus up-close, and see one of their members, Petr, nearly chased down by a Phorusrhacos.