In an ongoing series, Lumière asks a diverse range of film critics about the movie(s) that got them into movies.

COSTA BOTES: As I drift inexorably into middle age, I am rather proud to assert that I continue to enjoy goofy, improbable, and even downright silly movies; which is just as well, because it’s getting increasingly difficult to find any other kind.

The movie that got me into the movies was made in 1966. Hollywood director Richard Fleischer was already a veteran of one underwater epic, 20,000 Leagues Under The Sea, when he was persuaded to get his feet wet with another submarine caper.

Only this time, there’s a microscopic twist. Literally. The submarine in Fantastic Voyage has been miniaturized and injected into the bloodstream of a living patient in order to facilitate a radical medical procedure. Along for the ride are a handpicked selection of stock Hollywood stereotypes, and Raquel Welch.

Knowing absolutely nothing of physics (I still don’t), my eight-year-old self took in the extraordinary spectacle of tiny humans cavorting in a man’s arterial pathways with a kind of literal awe.

I think it was my first experience of special effects. For its day, Fantastic Voyage was audacious, incredible stuff. Even now, I defy anyone not to feel a rush at the movie’s point of view shot of the sub hurtling down the length of a hypodermic needle. The sudden cut to absolute silence as the craft is injected into the patient’s bloodstream is pure genius, and predates the same editing trick in Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey by two years.

On some instinctive level, I understood I was watching a spectacle that was physically impossible. But there it is in all its glory – a tiny submarine gliding through the vast cathedral chambers of a beating human heart. Awesome. And cinema made it so.

Costa Botes is a former critic of The Dominion (now The Dominion Post) and Wellington filmmaker, best known for Forgotten Silver, Saving Grace, The Lord of the Rings documentaries, and most recently Struggle No More.