The Invasion

Nicole Kidman in The Invasion (dir. Oliver Hirschbiegel, 2007).

Don Siegel's 1956 adaptation of Jack Finney's novel Invasion of the Body Snatchers is perhaps the most eloquent cinematic manifestation of anticommunist paranoia ever: its subtext undermines itself so beautifully that the irony involved in perceiving the film as profound emerges finally as less significant than the perception of profundity itself. (Philip Kaufman's 1978 remake demonstrates the continuing power of the premise minus the specific political neurosis of the original, emphasizing instead the scariness of all cultishness--if anything is lost in the dissolution of the cold war context, it is made up for by the freaky noise the pod people make when they spot a normal person, and by an innovatively poignant use of bagpipes. I don't remember if I ever saw all of Abel Ferrara's 1993 treatment, but from what I can recall, by that point much of the effectiveness of the story had been blanched out. I hear some good things about the recent TV series.)

Oliver Hirschbiegel's 2007 "update" tries to wear its ambivalence prominently, by raising the question whether colonization of our identities by hyper-rational aliens might not be preferable to having the world continue down its present path of mayhem. The problem is, of course, the obviousness of the answer to this question. Bring on the spores. I mean, once they have the news reports of peace in the Middle East and North Korea holding hands with the rest of the world and so on, what possible reason is there to root for Nicole Kidman? Okay, they're going to off her kid because he's immune. Still.

Also, Veronica Cartwright, who had a lead role in Kaufman's film, ought logically not to have played the woman who complains that her husband has changed, but the smaller part of the person running in traffic trying to warn everyone, just as Kevin McCarthy, the star of the original, did in Kaufman's version.

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