Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Invasion of the Body Snatchers

Invasion of the Body Snatchers 1956

David Leftwich, Andrew O'Brien, Kerry Long
David Leftwich
Invasion of the Body Snatchers was a film directed by Don Siegel, its screenplay written by Daniel Mainwaring, and produced by Walter Mirisch. The original budget was cut by $100,000 dollars, so the intended leads were not cast. Instead, Kevin McCarthy and Dana Wynter were cast as the movie’s leads. Invasion of the Body Snatchers was based off of the book The Body Snatchers by Jack Finney. The film made a lot of money in the U.S. but the critics ignored the it. The moved starts with the main character, Dr. Miles Bennett, retelling a flashback while in prison. It begins with Miles returning home to Santa Mira California to a strange sickness. Copies of people are being made and replacing the old versions while they sleep, but these new versions are emotionless. Miles and his love interest Becky try and stop this to no avail. Then, they realize the people are being made from “egg sacs” and are being brought in by truck loads. They both try and escape, but Becky falls asleep and becomes one of the copies. Miles escapes and then is arrested. The flashback ends and Miles’s captors realize their town is doomed. Invasion of the Body Snatchers innovated film because it created a hybrid category of horror and science fiction. It became a revered movie after its time and was Selected to the National Film Registry. It’s also in the library of congress for cultural significance. To some, it is one of the greatest science fiction movies ever.


"Invasion of the Body Snatchers." IMDb. IMDb.com, n.d. Web. 26 Jan. 2015.
Rowsey, Daniel S. "From Santa Mira to South Africa." JGCinema. N.p., n.d. Web. 26 Jan. 2015.
Stafford, Jeff. "Invasion of the Body Snatchers." Turner Classic Movies. N.p., n.d. Web. 26 Jan. 2015.

The Invasion of the Body Snatchers, similar to On the Waterfront, reflects the political climate of the time. While On the Waterfront displays the director’s personal battle against being blacklisted during the McCarthy era, Invasion of the Body Snatchers is more of a commentary on the widespread fears sweeping the country.  Jack Finney, who wrote the original screenplay, depicts the infecting individuals as emotionless zombies devoid of human characteristics. This can be seen as the common perception of communists being devoid of faith and basic human emotion.  Additionally, the invasion that sweeps the country can interpreted as communist dogma spreading throughout the world as well as McCarthyism fear mongering taking hold of the country. Finally, the movie warns against the dangers of group thinking and how easily populations can be swept up in mass hysteria. This can be a direct parallel to how American’s were enthralled by the Red Scare and quick to accusations due to the fear of sticking out from the crowd.
           I posed the question to the class whether or not they believed the film was supposed to be a commentary on the dangers of communism or a metaphor for the Red Scare and McCarthyism. The reactions of the class surprised me. They believed that the movie was more of a metaphor about the lack of individuality during the 1950s. One classmate believed it was meant to reveal how during the 50s American’s were less concerned about their individuality but more about being the image of a proper citizen. It can be argued however, that this mentality was borne out of McCarthyism. Individuals who opposed the status quo or attempted to fight back were targeted and ultimately blacklisted from society.
"Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1956)." Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1956). Filmsite Movie Review, n.d. Web. 24 Jan. 2015.
Zasadny, Virginia. "Cold War Propaganda or Clever Satire?" Cold War Propaganda or Clever Satire? University of West Florida, n.d. Web. 26 Jan. 2015.

           Invasion of the Body Snatchers has several important themes. The pod people are forcing conformity upon everyone in the town, and they tell the protagonist that their state of being is preferable to the unstable, emotional nature of humanity. Before the pods are discovered, the medical explanation is that some people have been cracking a bit under the pressure that international tensions with the Communists has put on them all. The alien pods and the pod people, of course, are a metaphor for the very same Communists, and so it adds another layer of depth to this sci-fi / horror story. Invasion quite literally dehumanizes the Communists by portraying them as alien organisms. The state of emotionally detached equality that the pod people experience runs parallel to the state of economic equality that is communism’s ultimate goal. Delving one level deeper into the analogy, it follows that when the main character and his lover tell the aliens that they “want no part” in their scheme, they are saying they prefer ups and downs (capitalism) to a flatline (communism). The mass hysteria in the beginning can be seen as an allegory for McCarthyism, and the mysterious, deadly alien pods relate to nuclear war.

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