Invasion of the Body Snatchers Philip Kaufman

Invasion of the Body Snatchers Philip Kaufman

Terror translates across several eras in The Body Snatchers, from Jack Finney’s 1955 novel through four remakes: Invasion of the Body Snatchers in 1956, this Philip Kaufman-directed 1978 classic, another barely-released film in 1993 dubbed The Body Snatchers, and a big-budget one (The Invasion) due this fall starring Nicole Kidman and Daniel Craig. Concerning an infiltration of aliens who replace humans with complicit "pods,” this threat of conformity is easily translated to various social fears depending on the era and political circumstances. The endings in particular change due to political will, be they upbeat and hopeful or sombre and depressing. Philip Kaufman (The Right Stuff, The Unbearable Lightness of Being) focuses more on character, less on sci-fi, letting stars Donald Sutherland and Brooke Adams (along with Jeff Goldblum and Leonard Nimoy) portray the fear of assimilation in a crowded urban setting (a change from the novel and first film). The transformation effects remain creepily effective, even 30 years later, a gooey mess of birthing images and sounds. Clearly timed to coincide with the upcoming remake, this two-disc DVD issue pads earlier editions with a look back at the film, as well as informative featurettes on special effects, sound design (by Star Wars’ Ben Burtt) and the cinematography of Michael Chapman (Raging Bull, The Lost Boys). The film stands up remarkably well, a creepy connection to contemporary mores that demonstrates that our fears may define our times but the more things change... Plus: director’s commentary. (MGM / Fox)