Invasion: Aliens or Communists?

         Invasion of the Body Snatchers, directed by Don Siegel in 1956, is a film that relied on psychological suspense to entertain the audience. There are many films that have followed in the tradition of this movie. This movie is also very important for what it suggests about the real world. Invasion of the Body Snatchers is obviously symbolic of the time period. It mirrors the threat of Communism, as well as the upset of McCarthyism, throughout the 1950s.

         This film focuses on a town that is overtaken by "pod people." The characters in this movie were "invaded" and made to become carbon copies of an alien race. This mirrors the worry of many Americans, that Communism would overflow into America and threaten the American "Leave it to Beaver" way of life.

         Invasion of the Body Snatchers is very subtle in the way it mixes fact and fiction. The main character, Dr. Miles Bennell (Kevin McCarthy) seems to satirize the way that many Americans went after each other during the Red Scare. Dr. Bennell seems to be a McCarthy-like figure as he attempts to expose the "pod people" for who they really are.

         Invasion of the Body Snatchers is so unique because of the fact that it shows the destruction of the world due to forces that people cannot seem to control. This is very similar to the helplessness that Americans felt as a result of the Cold War. There always seemed to be an imminent crisis on the horizon, which Americans must be prepared for at all times. This is what made Invasion of the Body Snatchers so scary and applicable to life. Invasion of the Body Snatchers showed the concern of global conflict in a society, yet satirized it by making the theme of the movie alien invaders. This satire of global conflict was a way for Americans to deal with their fears positively rather than negatively, as seen by the Red Scare. The Invasion of the Body Snatchers was also a way for people in Hollywood to comment on the Red Scare in a masked way.

         Invasion of the Body Snatchers is an interesting film, within the domain of science fiction. This movie not only entertains and terrifies the audience. It also sends a message about Communism in the context of the 1950s, which is important in the fact that film can be used for so many different purposes.

Megan Locke

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