Sunday, August 29, 2004

Invaders From Mars

I few nights ago I watched the classic sci-fi movie Invaders From Mars. While it’s a very enjoyable movie the one thing that really struck me about watching it now (it’s been a good few years since I last saw it) was the way in which the military is depicted in it. For those who haven’t seen it the plot basically involves a young boy discovering that Martians have been taking people over for their own nefarious plans. Eventually the US Army gets involved.

Now, if they were to remake this film now I can guarantee how the plot would go- the scientists in the movie would find out about the Martian plot- either the military would dismiss them out of hand (scientists always seem to know better when it come to national security in movies these days) or the military would over-react, thus endangering the people of earth. In either case, the scientists would save the day and the military would be pictured as either incompetent bunglers or over-zealous crackpots. Sound familiar?

Not so, in Invaders From Mars- when the Army gets involved we see lots of (I presume) stock footage of forces assembling, train loads of men, tanks roaring into position. From the word go, the Army is shown in the most positive light and they save the day, aided of course by the young hero of the film. There’s no wishy-washy identifying with the Martians, when the big green mutants are encountered they are brought down in a hail of gunfire as the valiant troops defend the Earth. It’s really refreshing to see a film like this where everyone knows what’s what- there’s good and evil, right and wrong. There’s no nuance, no attempt to evoke any kind of empathy for the invading Martians. They’re bad guys pure and simple.

Hollywood can’t seem to make films like this anymore and maybe that’s why we now have a generation that has problems telling right from wrong, and good from bad- why we even have politicians afraid to use the word evil to describe a foe which wants to end our very way of life. Maybe this is why Hollywood can’t make films which support their military in this time of international crisis. I’ve said it before and I’ll no doubt say it again- thank God, World War 2 was fought when it was- when Hollywood went to bat for the allies, when movie stars volunteered for service or to make movies which were for the cause. Right now they don’t seem to be able to do anything other than to disrespect the men and women putting their lives on the line to protect their freedoms.

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