I recently tried – and failed – to endear two of my younger friends to Philip Kaufman’s 1978 remake of Don Seigel’s 1956 classic. I personally think the problem was demi-generational as both of the young men I tried to introduce the film to were 5 years my junior and therefore entirely unconscious during the Watergate hearings, not to mention the slow cavalcade of Vietnam casualties being announced on the evening news in the early ’70′s and the protests that those deaths inspired.
When I was an undergraduate at Brown University in the ’80′s, I remember
Of course, the subtext of Kaufman’s film – and yes,
as opposed to
, the like of which now occupy American Cineplexes for weekends at a time, failing to break even after a weekend of exhibition;
being crafted with greater introspection, with something other than product-placement or the mockery of another generation’s sensibilities as its centerpiece – is the betrayal of the public good. In Kaufman’s remake, it is public servants, the Police, loved-ones and self-improvement gurus, conspire with the invading aliens, a form of creeping vegetation. Of course, this metaphor of creeping vegetation, betrayal and Fifth Horsemen has proved so fertile that the Wachowski Brothers have crafted a fifth incarnation of this tale in 50 years, after Seigel’s original, Kaufman’s remake, the Heinlein variation of ‘The Puppet Masters’ and Abel Ferrara’s ‘Body Snatchers’, which put the Religious Right and the Military-Industrial complex into high-relief. I’m hoping that the Wachowski
But what makes Kaufman’s film memorable are his hundreds of small touches – his stunt-casting of a post-
Nimoy as an unfeeling psychotherapist, a young Jeff Goldblum as a misunderstood writer and Veronica Cartwright’s pre-
And my guests said it was too long.