Film Analysis: Invasion of the Body Snatchers

The film that is of subject here is “Invasion of the Body Snatchers,” which debuted in 1956 and was directed by Don Siegel.  One of the best science fiction films of all time, this story captured the attention of numerous critics and is well known to have had one of the best remakes as well.  This only further proves what a great story “Invasion of the Body Snatchers” is as remakes often fail in their attempts to live up to the original.  The scene I felt encompasses the entire story into a short amount of time is one of the last in the film, in which the main character, Dr. Miles Bennell portrayed by Kevin McCarthy is attempting to escape from his town of Santa Mira that has been overrun with pod people.  As he runs, he attempts to stop the new, incoming residents and warn them of the take over and that humans no longer live their.  Instead, he is simply looked at as a drunk who is out of his mind and is getting in the way of their activities. This scene develops in such a way that it forces the audience to focus on the serious matter that has taken over this small town.  It captures the reactions from the beginning to the end of the film in one small scene and through the camera angles and quick shots, the sensitivity in viewers is raised almost so that we can feel what the actor is feeling.

The scene begins with the main character, Dr. Bennell running from the “Pod People” who have inhibited the bodies of his former friends, acquaintances and colleagues.  As this section of the scene develops we see three seperate shots.  The first is a medium shot of Dr. Bennell which depicts his fear and disbelief of the situation as he stumbles onto a main road.  The director then switches to a long shot which shows Bennell running towards cars that are heading in toward the overtaken town.  Finally, the third shot reverts back to a medium shot, depicting the pod people that are chasing him and discussing how their is no need to worry because no one will believe what he says.  After this, we see a quick long shot that changes the focus back to Dr. Bennell and then a long take of a medium shot in which Bennell is trying to convince the drivers passing by that they should not enter the town of Santa Mira.  As this take develops it lasts for about 30 seconds and allows the audience to see not only the frustration that Dr. Bennell is dealing with the but fear he has for human life.  The camera angles are used in a height advantage, in so that the audience is seeing from a top view the interactions Dr. Bennell is having with the cars and passengers that are passing by.  At this point we are realizing the fruitless efforts he is having and how many people he is attempting to stop without any recognition from the whatsoever.  As his desperation increases he attempts to stop more and more cars but is unable to do so. Once again, the scene switches back to a medium shot of the “Pod People” reminding the audience that they are counting on the incoming people to look at Dr. Bennell as psychotic and they were right in their prediction.  After a couple seconds focusing on the “Pod People” once again the director takes us back to Bennell, in a medium shot, who is now jumping on moving cars trying to grab their attention in any way possible.  As this continues he gets yelled at by numerous passersby until we hit the climactic point of this scene.  A medium shot of Bennell is taken as he runs to the back of a truck, as he jumps onto the back of it, we are taken into a closeup of his face in which we see a reaction shot as his eyes open widely in disbelief.  After this, we are taken to a closeup of the back of the truck which is filled with Pods.  After this, we are again taken back to the closeup, reaction shot of Bennell as he leaps off the truck.  His desire to influence these people has once again gone up and as the camera switches to a medium, low angled shot we see Bennell flailing his arms and screaming in disablieif that the Pod People are taking over and will capture anyone that “we care about.”  The final piece of this scene brings us to a closeup of Bennells face, which is filled with fear and disbelief in the fact that he can’t convince anyone of the “truth.”  Finally we are left with a long, high angled shot of the cars passing by Bennell as he screams “you’re next” over and over without any reaction from the passersby.

In addition to the shots that were taken to heighten the senses of the audience, the way in which it was done, including the setting and the actors depicted advances these feelings much more.  The scene takes place in the rural entrance to the small town that Dr. Bennell resides in.  Since we know he is essentially the last human left from the town, he has now become the last possible savior and as he attempts to save the new incomers, the anger grows because no one will listen to him.  The setting which not only depicts the cars being stopped by Bennel but also, the traditional white picket fence that outline the town the the long winding road leading to the potential destruction of the human race.  The director did an admirable job in encompassing all these aspects into such a short section of the film, raising not only the anticipation in the audience but the desire for Bennell to convince these people that they are driving towards the end of their lives.

This scene was the one that drove home the entire point of the film.  As a conclusion does, it summed up the previous occurences in the film as we realize the Bennell is the last human left and has become known to be psychotic by other humans.  The best part about this scene was the ways in which it relates back to happenings at the beginning of the film.  When the Dr. first comes into contact with patients who are evidently dealing with the takeover of the pod people, he just believes they have been stricken with some sort of disease or virus.  He tries to fix their issues by giving them pills instead of actually believing what they say.  At this point in the film, Bennell is the one that no one will believe and he is trying to convince others that he is serious in his accusations.  The audience sees the film come full circle and the way in which the director portrays it is in near perfection.

Reflection On: Bonnie & Clyde

Far and away my favorite movie of the semester (besides Psycho but I’m not counting that since I’ve seen it a million times).  It felt like this movie went  by in a blink, I really enjoyed it that much.  I love the way it incorporated not only action but relevant, in  depth dialogue as well.

One of the most intriguing things about this film, in my opinion, was the cast as well.  The two main stars Warren Beatty and Faye Dunaway were flanked by Gene Hackman and Gene Wilder.  The only one of these actors who was even an established name at that point was Warren Beatty.  This film not only put him on the star map but all of the others as well who would go on to have great Hollywood careers, arguably two of the best ever for Beatty and Dunaway.

What amazed me the most was how the character of Clyde had trouble with his sex life.  Because Beatty was not as well known at the time as he would become, this character trait went over perfectly with audiences and was completely believable.  However, I wonder, had this film been made a couple years later, after Beatty would become known as one of the most sexually active actors , if not the most, how believable this trait would have been.

Dunaway’s career seemed to catch wildfire right after this film was released.  Starring in classics like Chinatown, The Thomas Crown Affair and winning an oscar for Network, she became an actress to admire.  If you watch her in the role of Bonnie though and see some of her late films as she matured it is easily recognizable that she was still an amateur at this point.  I recently watched a film that she was in with Angelina Jolie called “Gia.”  Although she is much older at this point it is easy to see what skill and range she has as an actress.

Anyways I’ll leave it at that and don’t be surprised if in a few years we see the remake of Bonnie and Clyde.  Could definitely see Johnny Depp taking on the main role.  I’m not a big fan of remakes but it would sure be one I would look forward to as the good original content today is few and far between.  Let’s just hope it’s half as good as the original!

PEACE

Reflection On: La Jetee

I know I’m a little late to the party here.  I was absent on the day we watched this film in class so I caught it on my own and man did I love it.  First off, I can’t stand long movies so this was right down my ally, 28  minutes and right to the point.  The film was also extremely captivating in its montage style and the plotline was surprisingly awesome.

I can honestly say that I have never seen a film that is quite like this one and this is the type of so-called “experimental” films I believe to be relevant.  The montage style that director Chris Marker used almost reminded me of a graphic novel in story form.  I think that if you had printed out all those images and taken the blurbs the narrator was saying that you could have had one great comic.

One of the most interesting things I think this film proved is the fact that any type of film can be entertaining with the proper story.  At first glance many people would likely not even give “La Jetee” a chance due to the difference in style.  However, once given a chance, the story provides quite an apocalyptic psychological thriller.

It reminded me of a comic book version of the film 12 Monkeys with Brad Pitt and Bruce Willis.  All in all, a wonderful film experience that exceeded the original expectations that I had set for it.  Have to keep reminding myself not to judge a film before I see it!

PEACEEE

Reflection On: Experimental Cinema

To begin, I am not exactly a huge fan of independent cinema.  I find much of it difficult to understand and as I plan on going into the business side of entertainment, it’s hard to see much money coming from any of this.  I realize that the majority of these films were done for artistic representation and not for monetary purposes.  However, I just don’t feel that some of them should be releveant in today’s society.

My first example of this regards the film “Mothlight.”  Although “Mothlight” may be an exception as it was the first of its kind, it astounds me that this type of so-called film making  does not really take much skill.  If anything it takes patience and time, something, which I admit few of us have but if given could produce something similar.  Contributions in art are relative to each person and their view, however, this is just my opinion and I do not find the pleasure in studying films such as these.

The film “Mothlight” reminded me of a drawing at an art museum that I visited on one of my trips to Washington D.C.  The museum was filled with modern art and one of the “drawings” was of a clock.  It was drawn with a red crayon and was as simple as it sounds, just a red circle with red numbers on the inside.  I was young when I saw this and I still remember to this day turning to my dad and asking him why that was in the museum and he honestly had no idea.  The way I felt about the clock drawing is similiar to the way I felt when we watched “Mothlight” and “Meshes of the Afternoon.”  Both of these films have been studied extensively and given awards for their creative and experimental tactics so maybe it’s just me who’s missing the point but as much as I try to see it I just can’t.

To keep this short and readable I won’t go into depth on my next point but, I did thoroughly enjoy one experimental film from the sequence we viewed.  This was “Kustom Kar Kommados” by Kenneth Anger.  Anger’s film not only brought sense in a class filled with mystery but also I felt showed the true path that led to music videos.  This is the kind of experimental film that is simple to understand and enjoy because it has a purpose.  Not every film method can be experimented with through the feature style, therefore, directors like Anger create short films to test out the success and appeal of these methods.

There’s much more I could talk about on this topic as I am quite passionate, however each person has their own opinion and maybe some of you can see more in most of these films than I can.  If you have any questions or comments feel free to leave them.

PEACE

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