Invaders from Mars (1953)

Posted by Sam Hayes On Tuesday, December 01, 2009

Our second film in the unit today was 'Invaders from Mars', directed by William Cameron Menzies who was the production designer for'Gone with the Wind' and 'The Thief of Baghdad'. The film was released a few years before 'Invaders of the Bodysnatchers' but on a smaller budget and is less 'grown up'. The film to me seemed like Sci-fi in a child's mind and from their perspective, whereas Bodysnatchers was very much an adult-based film.

The plot is based around a large sandpit next to a house where little Jimmy Hunt lives with his parents, when an alien spaceship lands in the pit, his parents become 'mind-controlled by them' and lure people from the town into the pit to join their alien cult. The film follows little Jimmy as he tries to explain and fight against the alien's ambition. The reason for the alien visit is explained later, they are there to destroy a 'inter-planetary' missile that has been developed in the town that could destroy their ship, also, they are wanting to find a way to take over the humans so they never become extinct.

I felt the film took a cheapened turn near the end, where the aliens were shown to be little more than men in skin-tight green suits, looking more like they should be on a gameshow than taking over the world, the last twenty or so minutes were a repeat of clips, as it became apparent the film had over-stretched it's budget, unfortunately meaning we had to watch the same tank fire the same shell a dozen times and the same four green men run down a corridor constantly. It also seemed like they needed to extend the film and so added in a sort of summary of everything so far. I can see how in 1953 this film had a very different appeal as it does today. People would not have been able to envision aliens like we can because of all the films and television shows they have been portrayed in, so Invaders from Mars would have seemed much more realistic and ground-breaking.

I can see how some of Phil's explanation of the 'Uncanny' is portrayed in this film, with little Jimmy's mother and father suddenly being slightly different and the eery feeling of them not being his parents at all. The film also took the now cliched (Though back then not) ending of 'It was all a dream'. Perhaps I'll wake up in a minute and have to re-write this blog post. I hope not though, my fingers are tired.

3 Responses to 'Invaders from Mars (1953)'

  1. tutorphil said...'> 1 December 2009 at 20:25

    I like your film reviews very much - and you're absolutely right about the alternate perspectives in both 'Invasion' movies - one adult/one child - also, you'll no doubt see from comparative reviews that, once again 'the Reds' are implicated as aliens - Mars - the red planet (Russia) - out to sabotage American weapon programme...


  2. Jackie said...'> 2 December 2009 at 15:00

    Yes, the end is somewhat cliched, but also I think quite nightmareish - have you seen Groundhog Day?


  3. tutorphil said...'> 3 December 2009 at 23:48

    'Return of the Invasion of the Body-Snatchers' - see below for snippets from the three remakes - and, if you have time, give them a go - the 1993 version is often overlooked...





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I'm a student studying CG Arts and Animation at the University for the Creative Arts, I'm living in Kent.

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