Wednesday, 16 July 2014

Apocalypse Week 3: Identity Theft

The end of the world has been predicted, feared, predicted, mocked, and predicted again for all of time. The world of cinema has attempted to portray the fate of the earth time and time again. For decades film makers have considered the ways in which doom day may come. We have looked at both nature and mankind's effects on the Earth and how they could cause its destruction, Today's film is a remake of a 1956 film that was originally adapted from a novel, and is considered one of the most successful remakes of all time. This is 1978's Invasion of the Body Snatchers.

In San Francisco, something peculiar is happening. Weird flowers are blooming around the city that do not seem to be a recorded species. Elizabeth Driscoll (Brooke Adams) takes an interest in the strange plants, but soon her attention is drawn to the odd behaviour of her boyfriend who is not acting like himself. Soon enough Matthew Bennell  (Donald Sutherland) begins to hear claims from many friends that people close to them are behaving strangely too, including Elizabeth. Together, and with the help of friends, Nancy and Jack (Veronica Cartwright and Jeff Goldblum), they begin to try and understand what is happening to their loved ones, despite opposition from Dr. David Kibner (Leonard Nimoy). One thing becomes clear, if they are not careful, they will soon be joining the unemotional masses that now roam the streets, bursting forth from huge flower buds. 

The really strange thing here is those funky trees. 

A fantastic lead performance from Sutherland, who younger readers will know as President Snow from The Hunger Games franchise. Capturing the paranoia that the film presents perfectly, he strays wonderfully between calm leader, and manic victim. His big hair and moustache add to the crazy look, as well as his long trench coat, but his power play is the strength in his facial expressions. Wide eyed in fear, he strives to protect Adams' Elizabeth. Adams, herself, is a delightful leading lady. The first to be thrust into the world of fearful paranoia, she portrays Elizabeth with the right amount of terror, confusion, but also composure. A strong female character in the face of disaster. Goldblum's Jack is a wonderfully exasperated writer that sees the world around him in a cynical light which provides a neat amount of comic relief, without ever straying from the overall feel of suspense. 

The film is drop dead exciting. 

The achievements of this film lie not just in its performers, but equally in its production. Philip Kaufman's direction builds suspense in the background. A police siren here, a scream there, a person staring soullessly into the distance pretty much everywhere, he knows how to draw the audience and question what they are seeing - what is going on. The minimal score consists of uncomfortable twitches on the violin and juxtaposing silence, jarring beautifully with the piercing, horrible screeching sound that the pod-people manage to produce. W.D. Richter's screenplay, too, is full of captivating dialogue, twist after unpleasant twist, and plenty of surprises (like a dog with a tramps face due to a malfunction with a pod). Together, Kaufman's direction and Richter's writing manage to create a uneasy atmosphere that climaxes in a spine chilling finale that will linger on the memory.  

An alarming and subtle wipe-out of humankind. Entertaining and captivating with more memorable moments than you can shake a stick at. A remake that almost manages to single-handedly remove the negative connotations that come with that word. 

Best Bit? Many will tell you that the ending is up there with Some Like It Hot and The Departed. An ending that you want to tell everyone about because of how strong it was. No spoilers here, though. You will have to go watch it.

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