Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1978) [Film of the Week #1]

Before delving into Invasion of the Body Snatchers, Film of the Week is another new segment I’m adding to 4therace where I’ll share my favorite movie I have watched in the past 7 days. Since being on summer holiday I’ve finally had time to view a couple dozen films that are on my watchlist. Some of Criterion Collection, Hollywood classics, beloved standalones, indies, blockbusters, you name it.  I found this leisure time to be the perfect opportunity to recommend these wonderful films to those who may not know of them or generate some discussion to those who have. So to get right into it, the first Film of the Week is Philip Kaufman’s Invasion of the Body Snatchers. 

Invasion_of_the_body_snatchers_movie_poster_1978The film’s opening montage follows alien microorganisms as they journey through outer space and make their way to Earth falling in the rains over San Francisco. Within a couple of moments these organisms grow into flowers that, while although strange looking, intrigue a couple of passersby. The night after protagonist Elizabeth (Brooke Adams) brings this interesting flower home her husband becomes inexplicably awkward, emotionless and nearly mute. Numerous reports of people acting strange are recorded across the city and the one constant in all these accounts is the evidence of this strange looking flower. Quite literally this organism has the ability to invade the body and mind of its host, replicate and dispose of them. Elizabeth and her friends Matthew (Donald Sutherland), Jack (Jeff Goldblum), and Nancy (Veronica Cartwright) now attempt to escape a San Francisco under siege by a practically invisible enemy.

Kaufman’s film, a remake of Don Siegel’s 1956 film of the same name, is timeless. Invasion of the Body Snatchers use of practical effects, which I may say still hold up nearly 40 years later, are a true feat. Because scenes involving alien species were shot on camera within the same environment as actors, the threat felt tangible and existing in the universe making them all the more frightening.  Sequences are edited in fast cuts, Kaufman often shoots in tight environments and has a few unconventional focus shots. There is a scene where Elizabeth and Matthew are being chased by the alien invaders that solely focuses on the characters’ feet and another featuring quick cuts  shot at abstract angles as a paranoid Matthew roams the streets of an alien infested San Francisco.  All of these stylistic choices truly emulate the evident state of paranoia our protagonists endure adding to the film’s already tense tone.

Recommended Viewing: I suggest that you watch Invasion of the Body Snatchers with your family and or a group of friends. The uneasy and thrilling tone of the film may keep you on edge for its entire duration, you may scream, and may laugh possibly creating some great memories with whoever you choose to watch the film with.

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