Film Analysis: Invasion of the Body Snatchers

Posted on December 11, 2010 
Filed under Uncategorized

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.

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