Director: Philip Kaufman
Starring: Donald Sutherland, Brooke Adams, Jeff Goldblum, Veronica Cartwright, Leonard Nimoy
Get some sleep
Matthew Bennell is working for the Department of Public Health in San Francisco. He spends his days making surprise visits at local restaurants to uncover violations of the health code. One day, his co-worker and dear friend Elizabeth Driscoll asks him for help telling him that she no longer believes that her husband Geoffrey is really her husband anymore, but rather some kind of clone.
It doesn’t take many weird occurrences in the city before Bennell believes that she is right and they seek out help from the psychiatrist Dr. David Kibner and their friend and struggling writer Jack Bellicec. They soon find out that a big plot to clone people and take over society is in effect and they find themselves alone without having anyone to trust.
Invasion of the Body Snatchers is a remake from a classic 1956 film with the same title. It is based on a novel by Jack Finney and has the reputation of being one of the best remakes of all time. I’ve seen it plenty of times and the older I get, the more I appreciate it. It is definitely a sci-fi classic that needs to be seen and perhaps praised a bit more than what it is today.
The film has a great and unique alien invasion story and there is also more behind it that can be looked at as a social commentary if you want to do so. There is some subtle humour that you might miss the first time you watch it and it got some wonderful fluid and natural acting by the great cast that was assembled for this. It does lack a bit when it comes to the horror bit and it is definitely not scary, but it is still a film filled with emotions and the premise is creepy. It’s interesting that it does exploit a child fear of being afraid to go to sleep after a bit, a concept that would of course later be used much more in Nightmare on Elm Street.
The characters are done so well and everything feels so natural with the all of the performances by this impressive cast. Donald Sutherland gets the most screen time as Matthew Bennell. He comes off as a tough worker, but thanks to his kind relationship with Elizabeth (played by the lovely Brooke Adams) we get to see a much tender side of him that he probably hides from the rest of the world. It’s interesting to see that their friendship is the most loving one in the film, even though Elizabeth has a husband. It’s refreshing, and would still be refreshing to see today, to see a male and a female be just great friends like these two are, although it is easy to see some deeper unexplored affection in their relationship aswell.
It’s not only those two that deliver great performances, the supporting cast is also great. This is the first film where I’ve seen Jeff Goldblum get enough space to impress with his acting and it is also the only film where I have seen Leonard Nimoy act without making me think of his legendary Spock character from Star Trek. And while I’m spreading some praise around, I also thought that Veronica Cartwright was tremendous in the part of Nancy.
Philip Kaufman is the man responsible for this film, although W.D. Richter should get some praise for his work on the screenplay aswell, and it is surprising to see that he has barely directed any movies before of after this. He handled his actors well, respected the story and the characters and was able to make a great film on this one and I can’t imagine why he wasn’t allowed to continue to make more high profile films.
There is a lot of things to praise and enjoy about Invasion of the Body Snatchers and it is a film that can grow with you and be more appreciated with repeated views. It has plenty of things going for it, including some things I don’t want spoil in my review. I say every fan of sci-fi films should see it as I believe it is a classic and a very magnificent film.