Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Film Review--Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1978)


INVASION OF THE BODY SNATCHERS
starring Donald Sutherland, Brooke Adams, Leonard Nimoy, Jeff Goldblum, Veronica Cartwright, and Bradley Cooper as The Beav.

A suburb of San Francisco finds itself as the center of an alien invasion.  A health department worker (Sutherland) finds that many people he knows have begun to act strangely, displaying only the barest residuum of themselves.  When confronted about it, these people all deny that anything is wrong or offer weak stories.  In time, this man finds that he is increasingly in the minority of "human" people and is almost taken over by the same plant pods that he has discovered are possessing everyone.  These things must be stopped.  But who is there left to trust?

This is a strong remake of the original film, even though purists adhere to the 1950s version.  There is nothing wrong with the original certainly, but it was very much a product of its time.  The film was a response to the paranoia many felt over "them evil commies."  In those examples of the more frigid of the Cold War years, there was an honest sense that you could not tell who among your community...perhaps even your own family...might be communists.  Shades of the 17th Century witch trials.

Instead, what the 1978 remake relies on is a sense of something far more basic, perhaps even existential.  In my opinion, it is the question of "what if you're not like everyone else?"  What happens to you then, eh?  What if no one understands you?  Does it seem like everybody but you is a part of a "cult of normal" that to you seems difficult to follow?  Ahhh the dangers of nonconformity.

I believe that is what this version of the story is getting at.  It's that deep, philosophical question that recurs in science fiction, "what makes you, you?"  Once turned into..."pod people" or whatever the term should be...the converted assure their intended victims that "there will no longer be pain...or hate...or love..."  But does that mean you stop being human?  In many ways, I suppose you could argue "yes."  Then again, isn't our contemporary corporate society absolutely hellbent on conforming us?  Like pod people?

So I recommend this.  Leonard Nimoy is kickass as always and Donald Sutherland turns in yet another suitably creepy performance.  Another aspect of the movie that I find refreshing is the new (for the time anyway) riff on the tired alien invasion meme.  Why must an attack from space come in the form of a glittery spaceship?  Why indeed when it could be as simple as spores from a plant? 

Simple is better in most things.  Alien invasions are no different.  :)


Follow me on Twitter: @Jntweets

No comments:

Post a Comment