1/12/2010. Contributed by Geoff Willmetts
Invasion Of The Body Snatchers (BFI Film Classics) by Barry Keith Grant. pub: Palgrave Macmillan. 111 page illustrated indexed very small enlarged paperback. Price: GBP 9.99 (UK). ISBN: 978-1-84457-278-6.
check out websites: www.palgrave.com and www.bfi.org.uk
Having been reading these BFI Film Classics for a while now, it’s great that they’ve focused their attention on the Don Siegal directed 1956 film ‘Invasion Of The Body Snatchers’. It’s amazing how a low-budget film is still as relevant today as then as it addresses the problems of losing humanity. The worse kind of invasion is when you can’t really tell the difference between the original and the replacement other than how they lack emotions. You know something is wrong but it takes more than a while to figure out what. Original author Jack Finney’s take on this that was the basis of the film actually had a happy ending of sorts in that the pods moved on, looking for new hosts. The film version obviously didn’t go that far. This is the invasion after all, not the leaving. The fact that it works is more to do with the subversion of society and the inability to do anything about it. If you get the emotion of the situation, you will realise how impotent you are in such adversity. That should send a chill down anyone’s back. Quite how it was seen as a metaphor for the red menace of the time still baffles me. Maybe society at the time could only see things that way. Today, with more knowledge of aliens and the possible xenophobia we have today sees a different chilling menace. After all, aliens don’t have to come by starship. They could just be a spore. Hmmm...
Author Barry Grant makes a better observation in that the dividing line was actually the break-up in musical tastes with the arrival of rock’n’roll between adults and teen-agers and the inability to communicate between the two generations leading to people becoming more impersonal. It’s a shame really that the film didn’t use that as other than a couple children, all the cast were well-to-do adults. I’m sure if Siegal had recognised that, he would have used it in his film. Still, it’s a good observation. Maybe the people at the time weren’t aware that something was changing, just knew that it was about to happen. Like pod people really, if you think about it. Oddly, the 1978 sequel and still named the same film directed by Philip Kaufman doesn’t use rebellious teens neither so maybe that wasn’t a consideration. I haven’t seen the third re-make, ‘The Invasion’ (2007), to make a comparison there but using young adults seems more like getting a younger audience into the cinema than any metaphor exercise. I should point out that these sequels are covered by Grant in the final chapter. I love his quote on the final page from Finney where he states, ‘If you had ever read science fiction, you’d know that the dullest part is always the explanation. It bores people and clutters up the story.’ Although saying that, it would make the detective genre pretty pointless without one.
As you can tell by my reaction to this book, I found a lot to think about. It’s pocket-size which makes it an ideal travelling book and there are loads of photos from the film making it an ideal book for your collection.
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