Friday, October 12, 2012
|7:00 p.m.||Invaders from Mars|
William Cameron Menzies (U.S., 1953)
They’re here and they’re right in your backyard—or so warns Invaders from Mars, the first sci-fi film to present the alien invasion in living color. Told from the point of view of a terrified child, thirteen-year-old Jimmy Hunt, this paranoid yarn by Menzies, known best for his production design, uses distorted and outsized sets to mirror the child’s phantasmic state of mind. “Stylized and almost avant-garde in its use of minimal forms, forced perspective, and bursts of color-field frames,” pens Hoberman, “Invaders from Mars suggests a Cold War Cabinet of Dr. Caligari, complete with added dream ‘frame’.” Hidden below ground in their super saucer, the aliens abduct unsuspecting humans, controlling them with surgical implants. And not just anyone, but Jimmy’s parents who turn against their budding alienist. Here, Mars is a land just east of the Iron Curtain as the film’s tagline insinuates: “Capturing at will the humans they need for their sinister purposes! A General of the Army turned into a Saboteur! Parents turned into…rabid killers! Trusted police become…Arsonists!” Indeed, Mars is the red planet.
• Written by Richard Blake. Photographed by John Seitz. With Helena Carter, Arthur Franz, Jimmy Hunt, Leif Erickson. (78 mins, Color, 35mm, From Wade Williams)