Saturday, April 23, 2011

Science Fiction #9 - Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1956)

Invasion of the Body Snatchers is a Don Siegel science fiction movie of the classical vein. Black-and-white, relatively low-budget, good concepts and mediocre acting. It's not quite a B-Movie, but it's just on the edge of it. The whole thing has Film Noir/Hard Boiled Detective-style narration behind it, from the main character, that comes off as wonderfully melodramatic. It's really the best kind of science fiction. Genuinely good, but cheesy all the same.

Now, in Invasion of the Body Snatchers, the human race is slowly being replaced with identical, emotionless versions of themselves which grow in giant pods and replace them while they sleep. It's supposed to be a metaphor for Communism, apparently. In the 50's, everything was a metaphor for Communism. It's actually really creepy, and the pods look disgusting. The whole movie is actually a lot like a giant Twilight Zone episode, but unfortunately without Rod Serling or memorable music. Shame. Despite it's shortcomings,

Namely, a lack of Rod Serling,

it's a good story, even though it stops making sense at the end, and not in a twist ending way.

This whole movie is peppered with the campiest dialogue. Every single line is delivered totally strait-faced serious, and it is so cheesy. Entertainingly so, I'll admit, but cheesy all the same. Which brings up an important issue. I think it is time to introduce: The Ashley Wilkes Speech. Ashley Wilkes is a character in Gone With the Wind, and he is prone to delivering this type of speech. An Ashley Wilkes Speech is a speech that's technically related to the current subject, but refers to it in a much more abstract and philosophical way than is at all necessary. An Ashely Wilkes Speech may be deep, but it's not at all practical, and usually delivered at a totally inappropriate time.

"I don't know what we'll do about taxes, Scarlett, but let's take this time to reflect upon our inner character and disintegrating society." Thanks, Ashley.

Our main character here, Miles Bennell (Kevin McCarthy, by the way), is quite liable to Ashely Wilkes Speeches. Look at his philosophical musings latter in the film, while they're hiding in a cave:

"In my practice [He's a doctor], I've seen how people have allowed their humanity to drain away. Only it happened slowly instead of all at once. They didn't seem to mind... All of us - a little bit - we harden our hearts, grow callous. Only when we have to fight to stay human do we realize how precious it is to us, how dear."

Well, I guess that's true, but it's not really at all helpful...

Invasion of the Body Snatchers is a great movie from the classic era of science fiction movies. Cheesy, but totally good, and possessing of a really good concept. Not Rod Serling, though. Not Rod Serling.

No comments:

Post a Comment