Wednesday, March 16, 2011

ET in Hollywood - Keyhoe vs. Sagan

The new film Battle: Los Angeles represents a Hollywood version of extraterrestrial life that mirrors the views of Donald Keyhoe and those who have followed him (just about every modern pro-ETH researcher), which is to say the people who would have us believe that aliens are only slightly more technologically advanced than we are, and basically act with the same motivations as us.

This modern version of the "aliens-as-us-in-flying-saucers" meme, while admittedly more nihilistic and violent, is more or less the same as classic 1950s sci-fi epics like The Day The Earth Stood Still.

For the most part, the views that Hollywood have given us of aliens mirror those of the pro-ETH UFO research community. What once might have seemed imaginative has long since been revealed as wholly unrealistic from a scientific sense. Hence the term "science fiction", which applies equally to Keyhoe-ian UFO research as it does to Hollywood blockbusters.

But every now and then, a film comes along that offers a different and possibly more realistic view of what an encounter with an extraterrestrial intelligence will be like, and what it will mean for humanity. Here is one of my favourites - Contact:

The film wasn't perfect, of course - few films ever achieve that standard. But the issues it raised, and the way it raised them, provide a better glimpse of what might lie ahead than a film like Battle: Los Angeles, or even a classic like The Day The Earth Stood Still.

For that we can thank Carl Sagan, who might not have had much use for the UFO phenomenon, but had a much better grasp than do most UFO researchers and  Hollywood films in terms of what to expect from an encounter with an extraterrestrial civilization.

Paul Kimball


Red Pill Junkie said...

Good choice!

Here are four other options:

1)The First Star Trek movie. The idea that the Voyager probe eventually transforms (with a little help) into a sentient A.I. with an amount of knowledge that literally spans the known Universe is pretty provocative. I'm sure our late Mac Tonnies would have picked that one as a personal favorite ;)

2)Sphere. Granted, the movie kinda sucked, but nevertheless its interesting to analyze how the possibility of a true alien artifact so powerful that it can endow a human being with the ability to manifest things through the energy of the mind alone, could be so disruptive and dangerous to our entire way of existence --something to think about when you start considering the whole reverse-engineering stories about Roswell. This approach to show the alien as TRULY alien was something you rarely see in Cinema; except with...

3)Solaris. People reject the latest version with George Clooney, but I don't have a problem with it. And it's very interesting to be treated with the idea that sentience could be applicable to things like entire planets.

And of course, the all-time favorite:

4)2001. Nuff said! :)

Paul Kimball said...


I'm definitely with you on #1, at least in terms of the return of "V'Ger" part, and I also love 2001 and Solaris (more the Soviet original, but I also thought the Clooney version was well done). I've never seen Sphere, so I can't comment on that.

I would also add "Doing Time", which Mac and I wrote as a play, and we collaborated on as a screenplay before he passed away. I finished it after his death, and hope to get it made over the next year. Smart sci-fi, different from the play in many respects, but true to the original vision Mac and I had. In many ways, very Sagan-esque.


Red Pill Junkie said...

I'd love to see "Doing Time" on film! In the meantime, have you considered first releasing a graphic novel adaptation, in order to attract investors to the project? I just happen to know the perfect artist for the job :)

Paul Kimball said...

I quite like his work. Alas, there is absolutely no money for that kind of development, although I would love to see a graphic novel version of the screenplay.