4 Hollywood Sci-Fi Films From The 1950s And Their Cold War Perspectives

4. Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1956)

Invasion of the Body Snatchers

It is therefore unsurprising that American science fiction films in the post-war era examined the consequences of a possible Soviet invasion. Invasion of the Body Snatchers (the original, that is) presents an American town in which €œthe human is threatened by outside forces that are antithetical to €˜the human€™: that is, they are not mammalian; they are €˜clusters€™ rather than €˜individuals€™; and they have no emotions€ (Bukatman, 1993, p. 270). As the title implies, Don Siegel's film is about the replacement of human beings by unknown entities capable of morphing into their identical copies. The only difference from the original is, as Danny Kauffman says, their lack of €˜love, desire, ambition, and faith€™. Miles replies that he wants no part of it because everyone would essentially be the €˜same€™. Miles€™ words are clearly allegories of the Soviet-Communist ideology, in which everybody in a society is provided with equal privileges and opportunities as any other without the need of consumerism. It defies capitalism, which permits the consumption of consumer goods depending on the economic stance of an individual. In short, capitalism stands for the freedom of difference from one individual to another. The body snatchers€™ main goal is to transform American society into a utopia €“ €œan imaginary state of ideal harmony and perfection€ (King & Krzywinska, 2000, p. 118), which correlates with the intentions of the Soviet government of the time. The American government, which was lead by President Harry S. Truman, €œportrayed the world as divided into two camps, one democratic and the other oppressive and tyrannical€ (Blackburn, 1996, p. 8). As a result, they aided nations that were on the verge of suffering communist takeovers €“ such as Greece and Turkey €“ by €œwhat became known as the €˜Monroe Doctrine€™. [€] This action marked the beginning of [€] containment, meaning that the United States would take a lead in €˜containing€™ communist expansion€ (ibid). Miles attempts the same throughout the entire narrative €“ contain the expansion of the body snatchers in his hometown. The body snatchers could otherwise expand their takeover into other American cities until the humans would be outnumbered. He is unfortunately correct and fails, since he is the last €˜original€™ and sees several shipping trucks exporting the mysterious pods to other cities. Miles€™ theory relates heavily with President Dwight D. Eisenhower€™s €˜domino theory€™. The theory entails that €œif one small nation like South Vietnam fell to the communists, then nearby countries would inevitably follow, like dominoes in a row, until the communists were threatening American shores€ (Blackburn, 1996, p. 22). Invasion foreshadowed this theory, but by setting the origin of the body snatchers in American soil, Siegel envisioned what the Americans had yet to publicly experience €“ alien infiltration. However, Booker adds that the film may have one more social critique, but it is not aimed at the Soviets this time. He writes that the film may be a €œsubtle critique of anti-communist hysteria. By this reading, the film suggests that the notion of communists secretly taking over various aspects of American life [€] is about as likely as tiny seeds blowing from outer space [€] (and) [€] developing into large pods that grow perfect replicas€ (2006, p. 66). The American hysteria may have been far-fetched for some skeptics, but a film that conveys certainty about communism€™s repercussions is The Thing from Another World (which was remade by John Carpenter as The Thing).

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