****/**** Image A- Sound A Extras B
starring Donald Sutherland, Brooke Adams, Leonard Nimoy, Jeff Goldblum
screenplay by W.D. Richter, based on the novel The Body Snatchers by Jack Finney
directed by Philip Kaufman
by Walter Chaw I've come to believe that Philip Kaufman's Invasion of the Body Snatchers is not only better than Don Siegel's honoured 1956 original but also one of the best films of the best era in filmmaking. Even in so deep a well as this New American Cinema of ours--one that has forgotten gems like Cockfighter, Fat City, Law and Disorder, Night Moves, and Electra Glide in Blue in there propping up films like Chinatown, The Godfather I/II, Apocalypse Now, Nashville, The Conversation, McCabe & Mrs. Miller, and on and on, trailing into incandescent, brilliant eternity--this little work of absolute paranoid craftsmanship bears up under multiple viewings and close scrutiny and provides a succinct, prescient, terrifying précis of the decade before and the decade to come. What better analogy for the looming Reagan administration than pods stalking in lock-step, armed with arbitrary titles and senses of entitlement, steadfastly incapable of heeding the drumbeat of doom in the black jungles around us? It's a film about the absolute horror of complete conformity and non-engagement, as well as a reintroduction to the McCarthy-ian ideal that the only thing to get terribly exercised about is the ferreting out and excoriation of differing values. Arriving as it does in 1978, at the tail end of the most creative period in American film, Invasion of the Body Snatchers offers up a warning against complacency in the immediate wake of Jaws and Star Wars, which sounded the death knell for the artistry of this period arm-in-arm with the dawning of some unknown, mass- consumed and marketed ethic.