Published Apr 27, 2015When we think about the possibility of aliens coming to Earth from outer space, we rarely spend too much time considering the logistics of a peaceful meeting. But in The Visit, we're treated to a rough outline of how the interaction would be handled, including the crucial role of the United Nations Office of Outer Space Affairs. It's a ponderous, hypnotic but ultimately redundant examination of all the questions we would have for our guests should they ever arrive.
As we scour the endless sky using steadily evolving equipment and send communications like the introductory message aboard the Voyager probe that's only recently reached interstellar space, there's never been a better chance of contacting life beyond ours. Accordingly, the scientists and experts interviewed here approach the proposition with a great deal of curiosity and logic as they ponder what extraterrestrials might be like. They pose questions of a hypothetical alien such as, "How do you think?" and "Do you know what is good and what is evil?" that can only go unanswered.
More of a discussion than the simulation the documentary claims to be (except for a man who goes into perhaps too much imaginative detail about what being the first person to board a alien spacecraft might be like), we're privy to how a press release might be worded to best avoid panic from the public and a lawyer's speculation on new laws that might have to be drafted in order for humans and aliens to live together harmoniously.
While it's admittedly fascinating to hear these weighty matters parsed over by some of the most preeminent minds of their respective fields, it becomes increasingly clear that even they have little idea of what to really expect, given all of the variables. The film habitually devolves into a monotonous collage of well-composed slow-motion crowd shots and landscapes with the kind of existential voice-over that might be found in a Terrence Malick film.
When the documentary closes by building a case for how potentially co-existing with another species might not go so well given the history of humans, it paints a grim picture of why aliens might not be quite as glad too see us as we are to see them. After all, there's a reason why they chose not to include any of the more negative aspects of life on Earth — like war, for instance — in the Voyager probe. These are things you might not want to initially bring up when trying to make new friends.