Wednesday, February 16, 2011

They're Already Here! You're Next!

Reel One: This week, the class examined that classic of Cold War fears, Don Siegel's Invasion of the Body Snatchers. Mayberry (sorry - Santa Mira, California) gets taken over by "pod people" (no, not the Spinal Tap variety, nor the Lady Gaga genus) who have a drive to survive, but make do without any sort of messy emotion or personal connection. "Santa Mira" - I just love that name for a town in which everything is a mirror image and nothing is what it appears to be. Invasion is a film that holds up well (although at least one student was verbal in his desire to leave all this black & white stuff behind), especially in its strumming the lyre of "if the enemy looks like us, who can you trust?" Even sleep becomes an instrument of destruction in this film! Sure, a few things are definitely dated - "been to Reno" as code for "gotten divorced" and doctors who cheerfully interrupt their hot date to make a house call - but Invasion still plays a sonata of science fiction mixed with a good dose of psychological horror.

Reel Two: Over at the Great Buffy Re-Watch, similar themes are being explored. This week's showing features "Lie to Me" and "The Dark Age" in which viewers learn that Giles - steadfast, tweedy Giles - has a past he's not proud of and it's come to town. The enemy can look just like us and the people you expect to have the answers are, in fact, the source of the problem. But as the Zen Buddhists might remind us (if they had a hankering to fight the Undead), within every problem nestles its solution and the day will be saved, but the status quo will not be fully restored. Something has to be sacrificed in growing up and this week, that something is (for Buffy) a certain measure of childish innocence and (for Giles) thinking that a tweed coat can successfully disguise a dark past forever.

Next week - heroines discover that Real Life might not match the brochure. Buffy deals with the results of an vocational aptitude test (turns out "Slayer" isn't listed) and my class meets her fantastic Action Girl aunt, Ellen Ripley.

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