The Greatest films of all time: 51.Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1956)(USA)


“Invasion of the Body Snatchers” is a prototype of all the science fiction, horror and thriller films singularly or in combination that came afterwards years later, such as “The Blob”, “Alien”, “Aliens”, “The Fly”, “The Thing”, “Predators” and more. While “The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari” of 1920 has been the prototype of all horror films, “Invasion of the Body Snatchers” is a nice blend of science fiction, horror and even thriller of the modern time style, made 62 years ago. Directed by Don Siegel who created the Dirty Harry series and made Clint Eastwood popular in cop action films other than the spaghetti westerns of Sergio Leone, the film has no super stars, though well enough acted. Shot in a perfect black and white of film noir style, to convey more horror and thrills, while the color of all brands were in fashion already in 1950’s, the cinematography of Ellsworth Fredericks and most of all the music score of Carmen Dragon makes the film a classic so much that still horrifies and thrills today’s audience.


The story that was adapted from Jack Finney’s science fiction novel of 1954, “The Body Snatchers”, by Daniel Mainwaring into the script, is about an extraterrestrial invasion of the fictional town of Santa Mira in California. The film has its own twist and does not start with an obvious invasion, and takes the audience alike the protagonists, particularly the main one, Dr. Miles Bennel, the town GP, through a mysterious puzzle to solve and explain the sudden strange change of the locals’ behaviours. A woman visited by the doctor, claims his uncle with whom she lives is not real, but an impostor and a boy in fright runs away from his mother on the street, almost hit by the doctor’s car.  Later on more than half way through the film, we learn that the change of people becoming impostor and emotionless is an extraterrestrial invasion plan and attack. The real humans are duplicated by the spores that had been dropped down earlier onto the nearby farms, and un-earthy impostor copies would burst out of the huge seed pods.


Another example of popular cinematic art:

Like “Roman Holiday”, a popular box office delight that could reach artistic level and please lay audience and critics alike, and rank among the greatest films of all time in our list, “Invasion of the Body Snatchers” as well is a popular and box office hit that did the same as a prototype of science fiction horror and thriller film. Achieving this is not done with the content of the story or by much of special effects or huge spending, but by the power of story telling and showing on the screen. The film in fact is more of a thriller and mystery discovery than a horror and even science fiction. The thrill of the mystery solving of the locals, who one after another changing in behavior, creates a mass hysteria in the whole town, to be solved in the lead by Miles and his  girlfriend, Becky (Dana Wynter).        

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