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Contemporary Media Practice 2MED614 Dissertation

Close Encounters of the Cinematic Kind:

understanding the role of the alien in science fiction film

by Johan Flybring
18th January 2012

Word count: 9,120

Close Encounters of the Cinematic Kind

to my father, from whom I inherited my love for science ction.

Close Encounters of the Cinematic Kind


I would like to express my thanks to Adam Hodgkins, my supervisor, who has been of invaluable help throughout the dissertation development and writing processes. Thanks to all the science ction lm directors for their inspiring work and to all the theoreticians of the genre, without whom this paper would be not have been possible! My gratitude goes also to my friends for their trustworthy criticism and helpful advice. Last but not least, to my family for their never-ending support: Thank you.

Close Encounters of the Cinematic Kind


This paper discusses the representation of extraterrestrial intelligences in science ction lm, and considers its socio-political and spiritual implications. Through content and contextual analyses of a selection of lms, we can observe how the various alien depictions seem to be representative of the cultural views from which they were created. The portrayal of the alien entity generally embodies either an attitude of fear or one of optimism. The aliens are usually depicted either as malevolent and frightening, or as benevolent and divine, which is occasionally taken even further to show the extraterrestrial consciousness as godlike, omniscient and omnipresent. This is potentially increased by the use of strong visual effects, which nevertheless often becomes the lms main source of attraction, thus taking away from the lms potential spiritual or philosophical message. The discourse regarding the existence of extraterrestrial life and its implications becomes redundant.

Close Encounters of the Cinematic Kind


Introduction 6 "So that's how it began, out of the sky": Fighting the intrusive Other 9 "We have come to visit you in peace and with goodwill.": Making cosmic friends 19 "My God, it's full of stars!": The spiritual and the sublime 29 Conclusion 37 Bibliography 42 Filmography 46

Close Encounters of the Cinematic Kind


Science ction has been a fascination of mine for as long as I can remember. It probably began the rst time I watched Star Wars on VHS as a child. I was amazed by the colourful characters, the visionary technology and the exotic locations; as I grew older, I started realising the philosophical potential of the genre. One area that has been of particular interest to me is the concept of extraterrestrial life and the implications of its cinematic representation. Aliens made their rst appearance in popular culture in the late 19th century, as speculations arose, fueled by scientist Percival Lowell, about life on Mars. (Flynn, 2005; p. 20) However, the presence of extraterrestrial beings in cinema only really took off in the 1950s as the Cold War was mushrooming. As was noted by Patrick Lucanio, "the proliferation of science ction lms is one of the most interesting developments in postWorld War II lm history" (Phillips, 2005; p. 39). What has inspired the various portrayals of aliens in Hollywood cinema? Can these be related to the socio-political context of their making? To answer these questions I chose to perform content analysis on a number of relevant science ction lms from different eras of recent History, from the 1950s to present day, basing my choices on what are considered to be some of the most signicant lms of the alien-themed subgenre. According to this selection, I decided to then perform contextual analysis, placing each lm against its historical background. By comparing and contrasting the various alien depictions and by studying the relationships

Close Encounters of the Cinematic Kind

between the lms content and context, I would be able to suggest an explanation for specic forms of representation. A revisiting of previously watched science ction lms and a discovery of unseen ones, complemented by a study of relevant theoreticians, permitted me to expand my conceptual and theoretical knowledge base regarding the genre. As I began my research, I was expecting to nd a rather straightforward chronological pattern stretching over lm history, clearly delineating the different trends of alien representation. However, it soon became clear that their categorisation was not that simple. I came to distinguish, nonetheless, two main approaches towards the depiction of the extraterrestrial: the benevolent and the malevolent alien visitor. Considering the lm industry as a whole, I deemed it appropriate to centre my study on Hollywood cinema because of its pervasiveness, its popularity, and its particular authority on the science ction genre. Furthermore, due to the vastness of lmic science ction material, I chose to focus on a specic section of the genre: avoiding the classic monstermovie, TV series and fantasy-oriented epics, and concentrating essentially on lms which depict humans in a situation of direct or indirect rst contactwith some variation. Rather than limiting my analysis to only three lms, I thought it was more relevant to select a range of lms covering a more extensive portion of lm history, thus allowing for a more comprehensive study of the genres evolution. A small number of the lms are, however, assigned more importance and detailed analysis than others.

Close Encounters of the Cinematic Kind

Firstly, we will look into the malevolent alien representations in lms, starting with the invasion scenarios of the 1950s, continuing to the more horror-oriented lms of the seventies and eighties, and nishing with the return of alien invasions at the turn the millennium. This chapter will concern eras of anxiety, the fear of the Other, the issues of alienation and conformityparticularly with regard to Adornos theoriesas well as cinematic jingoism. Secondly, we will address the implications of benevolent alien visitations, which made their rst appearance in the 1950s, thrived in the seventies and eighties, and returned with the extraterrestrial being victimised in the 21st century. The benevolent alien lms, as will be discussed, tend to revolve around themes of innocence, hope and spirituality. Finally, we will consider the relationship between science and spirituality, specically with regard to extraterrestrial intelligences, as well as extending it to the lm industry as a whole. In that respect we will look into how special effects are used in science ction lm and how they can contribute to a lms message. In this chapter we will touch on Bourdieus theory of taste.

Close Encounters of the Cinematic Kind

1. "So that's how it began, out of the sky": Fighting

the intrusive Other

The idea of evil aliens in Science Fiction is usually seen to have originated with H.G. Wells novel The War of the Worlds (1898), in which Englandthe worldis being invaded by Martians. Although Robert Potters The Germ Growers (1892) preceded Wells novel with the concept of alien invasion, it was not widely read and thus the more popular The War of the Worlds has generally been credited with the rst confrontation between humans and aliens. (Flynn, 2005; p. 18) More than simply being a great story of ction, The War of the Worlds was incredibly current and presented the reader with a vivid commentary on the politics of the time and the effect of imperialism; it made the reader question the massacres of traditional imperialism rather than accept them as normal (Kaveney, 2005; p. 38). Indeed, Wells was inspired by events of the time concerning Britains treatment of its colonial subjectsin particular with regard to the native Tasmaniansand thus projected that onto the Martians of his novel. (Flynn, 2005; p. 22) Wells interest in science made him integrate these ideas of colonialism with Darwins evolutionary theories about the survival of the ttest, developing the ruthless alien race into a Darwinian competitor. The notion of an advance civilisation originating from Mars was furthermore a popular topic in those days. (Ibid., p. 20) The War of the Worlds was a novel ahead of its time and was to pave the way for many subsequent branches of science ction stories, with regard

Close Encounters of the Cinematic Kind

to such themes as extraterrestrial contact, end-of-the-world scenarios, interplanetary war and in particular alien invasion which would culminate with Hollywoods alien invasion lms of the 1950s. (Ibid., p. 19)

The subgenre of science ction lms involving extraterrestrial life properly took off in the early 1950sin particular with the theme of alien invasionin the context of the post-war era. The world had entered the nuclear age and the Cold War was in full swing. America at that time was living in a state of anxiety and paranoia, rstly because of the collective fear of an impending atomic war, and secondly due to Joseph McCarthys allegations about Communist inltration in American institutions. The focus was on what was unseeable and thereby unknowable (Phillips, 2005; p. 42), generating and intensifying a fear of the Otherevil could be anywhere. It was under these circumstances that numerous alien invasion scenarios sprung up within science ction lms, including a cinematic adaptation of H.G. Wells The War of the Worlds directed by George Pal in 1953. This time, however, the reading is less complexFifties America is smashed by a mighty war machine which happens, this instance, to come from space (Kaveney, 2005; p. 39), i.e. from Soviet Russia. The eras wave of alien invasion lms always presented America in a state of emergency, and according to Peter Biskind these emergencies dramatised the need of consensus, of pulling together (Jancovich, 1996; p. 15). However, not all lms were simple pro-American narratives.


Close Encounters of the Cinematic Kind

Although the highly acclaimed The Thing from Another World (1951) is considered the rst signicant example of the 1950s invasion narratives (Jancovich, 1996; p. 31), the anxieties of the time are probably best exemplied in a rather ambiguous lm: Don Siegels Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1956). Few lms of that era have offered such diversebut equally validinterpretations as this classic seemingly quintessential Bmovie. The plot is simple: a doctor discovers that the local population of his small Californian town is being replaced by emotionless alien simulacra; he does his best to save himself, the world and the woman he loves, in the midst of an escalating chaos. What makes this lm stand out from the majority of the science ction lms of the time is that the aliens in this case look and act like humans. This brings the horror of alien invasion closer to home, so to speak, and renders the familiar uncanny (King, Krzywinska, 2006; p. 51). This is illustrated in the lm by the emotionless duplicates performing the mundane everyday tasks, such as the duplicate of Uncle Ira casually mowing the lawn while Uncle Iras daughter worryingly consults the doctor about this newly arrived impostor who only shows the pretence of emotion. Besides, it is during a very normal barbecue evening amongst friends that Mylesthe protagonistrst notices the pods in his greenhouse. This normalcy and the blurring of the boundaries between self and other add to the paranoia of the McCarthyite claims about communism threatening to inltrates all areas of American life. As the lm progresses the


Close Encounters of the Cinematic Kind

main characterand the viewerdiscovers that more and more sectors of society have been inltrated by the aliens including the healthcare system (doctors) and the police. The emotionless alien duplicates in the lm exemplify the 1950s views of Soviet communism: many American critics claimed that the Soviet people could be characterised by their lack of feelings and individualism, that they were forced to become simple servants of the social whole. (Jancovich, 1996; p. 26) However, as Peter Biskind points out, "the alien's association with the Soviet Union did not necessarily imply an afrmation of American society"; the analogy of the Soviet Union was often a medium for pointing out or criticising certain aspects of American society itself. (Ibid., p. 17) Indeed, there was for many Americans an underlying fear that the Fordist scientictechnical rationality of their own society would eventually produce the same features as attributed to the Soviet Union. This system was impersonal and attempted to convert people into undifferentiated functionaries of the social whole (Ibid., p. 26). The Frankfurt School focused particularly on how this conformityand inevitably passivitywas generated by mass culture, or as Adorno calls it, the Culture Industry. Adorno states that the customer is not king, as the culture industry would have us believe, not its subject but its object (Adorno, 2001; p. 99)people are mere objects of power. Indeed, in the prosper post-war era of the 1950s the American population had televisions sets, increasing technology, more money and more time to enjoy the conveniences. The Culture Industry was pervasive, assisting in a


Close Encounters of the Cinematic Kind

conforming and a dumbing down of the masses, in the same way the alien pods take over the town in Invasion of the Body Snatchers, for people to be reborn into an untroubled world, where everyones the same. Myles famous comment, "so that's how it began, out of the sky", could be seen as referring straight to the polluting of the air by radio and television airwaves, lling homes with mind-numbing material, complying with the normalcy effects of the Culture Industry. (Field, 2005; p. 159) The notion of conformity and the prevalence of the Culture Industry are perfectly exemplied in the lm as the director shows the population of duplicates as looking completely normal but somehow fake, as if the whole town has been choreographedall the extras display signs of very rigid and bad acting. This is reminiscent of Peter Weirs The Truman Show (1998) in which Jim Carreys character is stuck in a real-life soap, an enclosed world made out of sets, props and actors. Furthermore, the conspiracy-theoretic metaphor of consumeristic citizens as sheep is expressed in the lmmaybe involuntarilywhen the duplicate version of a local psychiatrist tells the protagonist that "Sooner or later you'll have to go to sleep", i.e. unquestioningly conform to society, rather than be awake and aware of the machinations occurring in the world around him. Stuart Samuels notes that the belief in political conspiracy theories was the 50s mentalitys driving engine since they feed off the idea of the normal being deceptive (OConnor, Jackson, 1979; p. 209), thus presenting the subversive threat of an undened enemy as being covertly omnipresent.


Close Encounters of the Cinematic Kind

This points back to McCarthyism and the famous witch-hunt of the 40s and 50s when everyone felt the compulsion to prove his 100% Americanism to avoid the suspicion of being a communist, this being particularly applicable to Hollywood cinema and the wave of anti-communist lms that followed the House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC) hearings of 1947. (White, Averson, 1972; p. 123) The criticism of this conformity within Hollywood and American society inand just afterthe McCarthyist era is often considered to be one of the most common and straightforward interpretations of Invasion of the Body Snatchers.

Whether concerned with the threat of communism, the by-products of McCarthyism or the zombifying effect of the Culture Industry, this lm is rst and foremost a critique of conformity. The other two main concepts addressed in Invasion of the Body Snatchers are those of paranoia and alienation; together, these three themes dominated the 1950s and formed the basis of most science ction lms of the decade. It was a time when Americans were constantly faced with the threats of banality and terror, when conformity silenced the cries of pain and feelings of fear. (OConnor, Jackson, 1979; p. 207)

Following this wave of alien invasion lms, as the Cold War paranoia somewhat abated, the theme of evil aliens become less prominent on the big screen until its revival with the more horror-oriented science ction lms of the late 1970s and the 1980s. The hopes and dreams of the hippie


Close Encounters of the Cinematic Kind

generation had long dissipated, the Vietnam war had just ended and peoples attention and anxiety were now drawn back to internal affairs, particularly with the recent Watergate scandal which triggered for the American people signicant issues of trust in the Government. (Anderson, 1985; p. 101) The rst notable lm to express this new concern was none other than Philip Kaufmans 1978 horror remake of Invasion of the Body Snatchers, in which the political dimensions [...] have been dropped in favor of an emphasis on the nature of trust and the survivors' estrangement from the new society (Westfahl, 2005; p. 1099). The story has shifted from the small town of Santa Mira to the urban environment of San Francisco, and the lm noir style of the 1956 version has been replaced by naturalistic Seventies colour stock (ibid., p. 1099). This remake preceded a resurgence of science ction/horror hybrid lms, of which the most signicant are Alien (1979) and John Carpenters The Thing (1982) which was a remake of the 1951 classic, The Thing from Another World. These lms leave behind the idea of full-scale invasion and focus instead on the single malevolent alien that threatens the small group of humans involved and ultimately the world. These aliens are presented as purely evil monsters. Although lms like Alien and The Thing make extensive use of science ction tropes, they are generally most naturally regarded as horror lms because [...] the plot structures are simply mappable as moving towards the defeat of the interloping evil. (Kaveney, 2005; p. 42) This evil this is embodied by the Other as the non-human, that which is not recognised or accepted but must be dealt with either by rejecting it


Close Encounters of the Cinematic Kind

and if possible annihilating it, or by rendering it safe and assimilating it (Jancovich, 2002; p. 27). In the case of the above-mentioned lms, the former is the order of the day as the monsters progressively pose an ever greater threat. In Alien, the only character who is against the destruction of the enemy is Ashthe corporate cyborgwho is apart from the alien the only non-human character in the lm; he too gets destroyed. The alien here is often seen by critics to symbolise the monstrous-feminine as male gynophobic fears, combining all the elements of body horror typied primarily by the aliens vagina dentata head, as well as diverse patriarchal maternal imagery with the emphasis being on different representations of the primal scene (Kuhn, 1990; p. 128). These primal fears were a major concern of the science ction horror lms of the time, including in Carpenters The Thing. Indeed, the creature in the lm bears the characteristics of a femme fatale who one by one takes over the population of this all-male camp. Likewise, the rst victim in the campthe character of Benningsis caught being assimilated by the Thing as Bennings colleague Windows walks into the room; the effect is shocking and slightly obscene, almost as though Windows is a child who has unwittingly stumbled across a primal scene of two beings engaged in a particularly sexual act. (Billson, 1997; p. 57) The Things assimilation of its victims is an evocation of procreation which blurs the boundaries between the Self and the Other, in the way Invasion of the Body Snatchers had previously done. The human body itself is a threat; unlike the majority of 1950s invasion


Close Encounters of the Cinematic Kind

lms, there is no longer the assumption that human beings are superior to alien creatures. (Kuhn, 1990; p. 8) It is also worth noting that both Alien and The Thing bring back the relationship between familiarity and uncanniness. In addition to portraying female genitals and the womb as uncanny 1, the plot in Alien takes place inside an ordinary cargo shipwith a stereotypically masculine crew which just so happens to be in space, thus bringing familiar elements into an alien environment and unsettling circumstances. Similarly, The Thing is set on familiar Earth, but at the same time in remote unfamiliar Antarctica.

After a long era of absence, the classic alien invasion scenario made a comeback in the 1990s with Roland Emmerichs Independence Day (1996). This time however the message does not concern Cold War fears of communism and nuclear war; in Independence Day, aliens underline the total supremacy of America, their onslaught demonstrates the impregnability of American supremacy and its rightful leadership of the globe, and thus presents American ideology as the last bastion of universal independence (Sardar & Cubitt, 2002; p. 11). The lm is in a sense a precursor to the new wave of doomsday invasion scenarios that have appeared since the turn of the millennium, in particular since 9/11 and the Iraq and Afghanistan warsmore generally since the current American War on Terror. A recent prime example of this is Jonathan Liebesmans Battle Los

The parallel between the womb and the uncanny was developed by Sigmund Freud who, like Schelling, dened the uncanny as something which ought to have remained hidden but has come to light. (Kuhn, 1990; p. 135)


Close Encounters of the Cinematic Kind

Angeles (2011), a jingoistic science ction war lm in which Los Angeles and the rest of the worldis attacked by a race of humanoid aliens, nally defeated by a small brave squad of U.S. Marines. If it werent for the extraterrestrial origin of the alien enemy, little would differentiate this lm from those set in Iraq or Afghanistan, such as The Hurt Locker (2008). Battles Los Angeles uses the science ction genre to somewhat disguise its political pro-war stance; by ghting and winning a ctional war, America makes up for the controversy engendered by its real-life no-win wars. By eliminating the ctional Other, Americas insularity becomes total. (Ibid., p. 49) These modern alien invasion lms are thus a step backwards, taking us back to the beginning, to the days before the recovery of the nonWestern history, identity and futures began, before the Western representations of the Other and notion of Otherness were deconstructed and shown to be imperialist in nature (Ibid., p. 48).

Science ction lms portraying evil extraterrestrialsin particular the invasion scenariostend to reect peoples fears and anxieties about the dehumanizing qualities of contemporary society, not so much due to social structures as to mental states shared across a culture at a particular historical moment (Kuhn, 1990; p. 17). The lms depict this either in the form of a criticism of said aspects of society, or on the other hand by being a symbol of the anxieties themselves, such as the jingoistic warmongering lms. In consequence, these lms generally call for violence as a solution to the threat of the evil Other.


Close Encounters of the Cinematic Kind

2. "We have come to visit you in peace and with goodwill.": Making cosmic friends

The rst notable appearance of the benevolent alien in science ction cinema occurred at what seemed to be the most improbable of times: in the early 1950s while the Cold War paranoia was at its peak and science ction lms were generally depicting extraterrestrials as malevolent invaders. Indeed, as seen in the previous chapter, it was common practice for lmmakers to produce conformist anti-Sovietor at least pro-American lms, especially under the pressure of the House Un-American Activities Committee. (White, Averson, 1972; p. 123) The year 1951, however, saw the release of the rather liberal The Day the Earth Stood Still, directed by Robert Wise. The story is of a human-looking alien named Klaatu who lands in Washington D.C. together with a powerful robot named Gort, peacefully bringing, as the 1951 poster reads, a warning and an ultimatum to the world leaders: they have the choice to stop the expansion of warfare and violence or the Earth will be considered a threat and be destroyed. As his request to meet with the leaders is rejected, Klaatu turns to the scientic community which he believes to be above the petty squabbles of politics, as Klaatu puts it, and able to listen to reason. What differentiates this lm from other alien lms of the time is that here the alienthe inhuman, the Otherhas value, rather than being simply something destructive that needs to be overcome. (Jancovich, 1996; p. 32)


Close Encounters of the Cinematic Kind

One of the most obvious and predominant themes of the lm is the conict between the military and science, and essentially between violence and intellect. The militaryi.e. the Stateseems incapable of resolving and handling the aliens wisheven ending up shooting Klaatu twice. The scientists, on the other hand, consider Klaatu an advanced being with superior knowledge, to be learned fromand rightly so. (Ibid.) In his nal monologue to a group of scientists, at the climax of the lm, Klaatu explains his reason for coming and offers a solution for a war-free society, the way it works on other planets. They have created, as Klaatu states, an organization for the mutual protection of all planets, policed by a race of robots (like Gort) that have absolute power to act against any sign of aggression. The message is a pacistic one, a warning about the direction in which Earth namely its inhabitantsis evolving; referring particularly to the nuclear arms race fuelled by the United States and the USSR. This, combined with the emergent space program, is what threatens Klaatu and his race, if humans were to expand their warfare into space. Thus, Klaatus ultimatum and paradoxical threat to destroy the Earth if need beas an act of self-defence forces the viewer to consider "the impact of the new human technology on society and [...] the ethical ramications of the alien technology". (Sanders, 2008; p. 91) The lm suggests that while science and technology can be destructive when used irresponsibly and for violencei.e. by the militaryit can also be highly benecial and offer solutions to world problems; a point which is emphasized by the importance of the intellectually brilliant Einstein-like scientist Professor Barnhardt, and by


Close Encounters of the Cinematic Kind

Klaatus stories about the scientic wonders of his civilisation. (Jancovich, 1996; pp. 44-45) This is made particularly relevant when Klaatu, after being shot, is resuscitated by Gortby science. Klaatus resurrection is the lms ultimate narrative element which presents the alien as a religious gure, more precisely as Jesus Christ. There are indeed many references to the New Testament, which scriptwriter Edmund North had inserted as a subliminal joke. (Biskind, 2001; p. 152) Klaatu, who assumes the alias Carpenterwhich refers to the alleged profession of Christ"comes to earth to save it from its follies; goes amongst the common people; is killed by human ignorance and intolerance; and eventually rises again before delivering a message to the world and ascending to the heavens." (Jancovich, 1996; p. 44) Like Jesus, Klaatu is just like any human, he looks like us, bleeds like us and has emotions like us. The Christian allegory is near total, in this context replacing faith with science. Thus, bigotry against the alien and his technology becomes the heathen denial of Christ. (Biskind, 2001; p. 152) 2 It is however worth noting that, unlike Jesus, Klaatu does not completely reject violence; his solution consisting in destroying Earth if other planets are threatened hence does not respect the Christian principle of turn the other cheek. This is instead remarkably reminiscent of the Mutually Assured Destruction philosophy employed by the US and the USSR in the Cold War. (Jancovich, 1996; p. 46) The lm deies science and technology while still remaining aware of its potential danger.

Considering the power attributed to the robot, could Gort be a metaphor for God? Perhaps it is science itself which is God.


Close Encounters of the Cinematic Kind

Although the way the alienor Otheris represented in the lm is unusual in relation to other science ction lms of the time, The Day the Earth Stood Still is consistent with the eras seriousness and subject matter. However, another aspect which differentiates the lm from its contemporaries is the nature of the supporting charactersHelen Benson and her son Bobbyand their relationship with the alien. Firstly, Helen is a remarkably autonomous and courageous woman and a widow, who develops a seemingly mutual afnity with Klaatu; nevertheless, they do not get together and therefore the conventions of romance that are usually observed in 1950s lm are contravened. (Cranny-Francis, 2007; p. 90) Secondly, her son Bobby develops a strong friendship with Klaatu who turns into something of a father gure for the boy; the childs innocence sees beyond the insularity and paranoia of the state, he sees the good in Klaatu. These themes, in particular the father/child aspect, were in a sense ahead of their time and were to become, as we will see, signicant elements and thoroughly explored in later science ction lms.

As the Cold War paranoia calmed down, science ction lms somewhat waned in popularity and took a back seat in the public eye, as did the aliensespecially of the benevolent kind. Most Sci Fi of the late sixties and particularly the early seventies focused more on domestic and terrestrial/environmental issues and were lled with dystopian despair. (Penley, 1991; p. 14) These dystopian worlds were marked by the absence of children, since they are the ones who conceive the future. This was


Close Encounters of the Cinematic Kind

probably encouraged by Americas guilt of having napalmed children and child-like people in Vietnamwhich also discouraged SF fantasies about conquering new worlds or defeating extraterrestrial Others". (Ibid.) However, after the Vietnam war had ended, the situation changed with regard to children in science ction lms in the sense that the future of post-war society depended on the inclusion of children within its conception of the social". (Tincknell, 2005; p. 88) Released in 1977, Steven Spielbergs Close Encounters of the Third Kind became the rst in a new wave of lms depicting the benevolent saviour alien, embracing the concept of the child and conating it with the male adult and the alien. The lm valorises the myth of the little, innocent, vulnerable child and transcodes it as a myth of the little, innocent, and benevolent alienwho, however poignantly scrawny, is also awesomely powerful and invulnerable. (Penley, 1991; p. 15) The plot of the lm revolves around the childish character of Roy Neary who is misunderstood by his wife and unappreciated by his children; after his rst close encounter with a UFO, he abandons his paternal responsibility and insteadto the contempt of his familyembarks on a quest to regain his childhood, which is symbolised by the playful aliens. In his search for answers his path crosses the one of Jillian Guiler, a widow and single parent, whose four-year-old son has been abducted by unseen beings. They are both literally alien-ated from traditional family structure and together they try to "relocate the innocent and playful child they have differently lost". (Ibid., p. 16) The playful child is omnipresent in the lm; in the scene of Jillians son Barrys abductionor


Close Encounters of the Cinematic Kind

more aptly invitation to playthe boy knows there is nothing to fear, unlike his terried mother, and instead joyfully greets the aliens, shouting toys! when he sees the UFO arriving.3 This is another example of the idea expressed in The Day the Earth Stood Still that the innocent sees. The celebration of the child and the conation of the father/child/alien reaches its height when nally, as Roy Neary is receivedand adoptedby the benevolent child-like aliens and he boards the mothership, he becomes a gure beatically re-solved as powerful patriarch, loving father, and lovable child. (Ibid., p. 17) The otherness usually attributed to aliens has thus been completely undermined; "the narrative gradually transfers the real sense of otherness from the aliens to the government and its forces [...] all of whom are working, at times quite violently, to "protect" the people by covering up the visitors' presence" (Telotte, 2001; p. 149). The government has become like a protective parentnot innocenttrying to insulate the population by determining what it should and should not know. (Ibid., p. 152) This lm in a sense provided the blueprints for Spielbergs subsequent lm E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial (1982), which adopts the very same themes. The story is of an alien who is stranded on Earth and befriends a young boy named Elliot. E.T. is pictured as a small innocent and playful child, yet wise, paternal and powerful, and thus takes on both the role of Elliots best friend and the one of the boys surrogate father. (Penley, 1991; p. 20) The latter is particularly humourously illustrated in a scene in which E.T., alone at home, "wears the absent terrestrial father's clothing, drinks beer, reads the

Barrys exclamation makes reference to a previous visitation by the aliens during which his toys came to life, accentuating the playfulness of the aliens.


Close Encounters of the Cinematic Kind

paper and watches TV" (Ibid., p. 21). Like in Close Encounters, the role of the Other is here transferred from E.T. to, on the one hand, the inhuman governmental agents4 and, on the other hand, to Elliots father who is displaced in Mexicoan alien landdeprived from his patriarchal and paternal powers. He is the real alien.5 (Ibid., p. 21) Both lms deal with issues of growing up, reaching maturity and a state of cosmic adulthood through child-like playfulness and innocence. (Telotte, 2001; p. 153) The other major theme common to these lmsand to other lms of the time such as John Carpenters Starman (1984) 6 or Ron Howards Cocoon (1985)is the deication of the aliens, in a way similar to The Day the Earth Stood Still although with less serious a tone. The gure of the Alien Messiahas Hugh Ruppersberg calls itarrives to rescue the weak and vulnerable human characters from the threatening circumstances they suffer; in Close Encounters the protagonists feel trapped in a meaningless, trivial existence, and in E.T. a young boy is upset over his parents collapsed marriage. (Kuhn, 1990; p. 33) The arrival of the Alien Messiah provides resolution and hope, and offers solace to the banality of modern life. In Close Encounters the aliens appear godlike, not least because of their technological advancement. Science and technology is what has redeemed

This is exemplied in the lm when the unwell E.T. and Elliot are visited by ofcials dressed in spacesuits. Elliot's mother is thus portrayed as a single mother, just like Jillian Guiler in Close Encounters. This theme of the unattached mother is then also found in Starman (1984) as a mother-to-be.

Starman was a drastic directorial change for Carpenter whose previous and subsequent work has mostly been in the horror/action genres, and any aliens involved have always been of the malevolent kind, the most notable example being his remake of The Thing (1982).


Close Encounters of the Cinematic Kind

them from original sin, and thus made them appear like exalted beings to the earthly humans. (Ibid., p. 35) The lm culminates in the seraphic and benevolent aliens carrying a blissful Roy Neary into the heavenswhich is made possible thanks to their technology. As Roy is accompanied into the spaceship by the small beings, he is led with his arms outstretched like the crucix Christ gure, giving him a saintly appearance. This elevates him, and even reafrms his paternal and patriarchal role. Similarly, in E.T. the alien acts out his messianic role by relieving the boys confusion and giving him a sense of worth, and is shown as a being with supernatural powers who heals wounds, revivies dead owers, and levitates fruit and bicyclesi.e. performing miracles. (Ibid., pp. 35-36) The cosmic incarnation of Christian myth reaches a pinnacle at the end of the lm when E.T. comforts the boy, reassures him that he will remain in the boys memory in future yearsas a source of faithand nally ascends into the heavens, as his ship leaves a rainbow in its wake, the symbol of divine blessing and protection. (Ibid., p. 36) The 1970s and the 1980s thus saw a religious revival in the form of the benevolent Alien Messiah who offers hope and purpose to a troubled humanity. These lmsin particular Close Encounters of the Third Kind were in a sense embracing and hanging on to the spiritual and mystical Hippie ideals of the sixties, with Spielbergs vision being that "our troubles would be resolved by Aquarian consciousness-raising sessions conducted by relentlessly benevolent extraterrestrials." (Penley, 1991; p. 83) However, Ruppersberg is pessimistic, claiming that the presence of the Alien Messiah


Close Encounters of the Cinematic Kind

in science ction lms points to a sense of inadequacy experienced by audiences and lmmakers, and a fatalistic belief that the worlds problems are insurmountablethat only super-human agencies can provide a solution and that humanity is impotent. (Kuhn, 1990; p. 37)

It is worth noting that, in more recent years, the benevolent godlike extraterrestrials seem to have transformed into more earthly beings, in a sense our equals, even to the point of becoming, ironically, victims to our inhumanity. Prime examples of this would be James Camerons Avatar and Neill Blomkamps District 9, both released in 2009, but set in the future. Both use the victimisation of the aliens to allegorically point out real human issues that affect our world in the present. Avatar portrays the spiritually and ecologically advanced aliens being invaded by the corrupt corporate human military seeking only nancial gain; District 9 shows a community of stranded aliens being discriminated against and put in a Johannesburg ghetto by the all-powerful multinationaland again corporatemilitary-industrial complex. These lms are clear allegories for, on the one hand, Western colonialism and the exploitation of indigenous people and lands by European settlers, and on the other hand, the South-African Apartheid and discrimination against black people. Fundamentally they are both strong criticisms of capitalist greed and Western insularity and xenophobia. This brings us back to the Postcolonial nature of the genre in the sense that "Science ction is a very particular possession of just one tradition Western civilisation." (Sardar & Cubitt, 2002; p. 2) These lms are thus very close to


Close Encounters of the Cinematic Kind

The Day the Earth Stood Still in the seriousness of the themes addressed, yet Avatar parallels Close Encounters of the Third Kind with regard to the idealised mysticism and spirituality of the alien race.7

Science and technology is a major, albeit ambiguous element in all the benevolent alien lms as it is usually gloried and even deied when attributed to the aliens, but considered a threat on the part of the humans. This ambiguity is inherent to the genre since Science ction is both afraid of science and in love with science, in the sense that it is the best of humanitys creations and can bring out the worst in us. (Sardar & Cubitt, 2002; p. 5) This aspect is related to another element that these lms seem to have in common, which is a general distrust of the governmentthis could be seen as being intrinsic to, and directly reective of, American society.8 This distrust is strengthened in the lms by the presence of the Alien Messiah which, as per the Christian allegory, likens the government with the establishment which persecuted Jesus Christ in the Roman Empire.

Furthermore, it is interesting to note that in both Avatar and District 9 the protagonist physically and holistically becomes one of the aliens by the end of the lmhe becomes the Other.
7 8

According to the ndings published in 1998 by the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press, the percentage of Americans who trust the government has since the mid-sixties averaged 51%, hitting lows of 23% (around 1980 and 1994), and has marginally been under 50% since about 1970. (Pew Research Center for the People & the Press, 1998)


Close Encounters of the Cinematic Kind

3. "My God, it's full of stars!": The spiritual and the


The notion of extraterrestrial life gained prominence in popular thought as the Cold War space race was soaring and the concept was starting to be taken more seriously by the scientic community. Interestingly, the book that popularised the debate on the existence of alien life was Intelligent Life in the Universe, co-authored in 1966 by Soviet astronomer Iosef Shklovskii and American astronomer Carl Saganthe book came to be known as one of the most exciting nontechnical science books ever written. (Head, Sagan, 2006; p. 3) Sagan thereafter became one of the most popular scientists of the twentieth century and the leading gure in the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence (SETI). Ideas that had previously been pure musings of science ction then became matters of science; Sagan suggested that the question of whether extraterrestrial intelligences exist "is amendable to experimental testing. It has been removed from the arena of pure speculation. It is now in the arena of experiment." (Sagan, 2000; p. 195) It was under this air of scientic accuracy that Stanley Kubricks masterpiece 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968) emerged. The lm depicts no physical alien visitor, no alien spaceships, but the presence of an extraterrestrial consciousness is the essence of the plotthe only trace of its existence is a black mysterious monolith that is discovered on the moon by human astronauts. A believable representation of a highly evolved alien race


Close Encounters of the Cinematic Kind

was of primordial importance to Kubrick and co-writer Arthur C. Clarke; they thus consulted Carl Sagan for scientic accuracy. Sagan suggested that any explicit representation of an advanced extraterrestrial being was bound to have at least an element of falseness about it, and that the best solution wo uld be to suggest, rather than explicitly to display, the extraterrestrials. (Ibid., p. 183) The unseen and almighty alien entity of the lm may have, as Kubrick suggested in an interview with Playboy Magazine, evolved from biological species [...] into beings of pure energy and spirit ultimately developing into an integrated collective immortal consciousness. (Norden, 1968; p. 50) The alien intelligence is here portrayed beyond the simple Alien Messiah and instead completely godlike, omniscient and omnipotent. Kubrick furthermore points out that all the standard attributes assigned to God in our history could equally well be the characteristics of biological entities who billions of years ago were at a stage of development similar to man's own (Ibid., p. 51)he thus constructs a scientic denition of God. Interestingly, by striving for scientic accuracy, Kubrick simultaneously provides the audience with arguably the most religious narrative of science ction cinema, addressing the existential question of the origin of man. The lm suggests that the advanced alien intelligence interacted with our distant ancestors, making Man what he is today. Finally, at the end of the lm, this consciousness allows the protagonist to take, through a mind-bending experience, the next evolutionary step of mankind.


Close Encounters of the Cinematic Kind

The concept of Ancient Astronaut visitationalso called Paleocontactwas spreading around the same time as the release of 2001: A Space Odyssey, particularly with Erich Von Dnikens best-selling Chariots of the Gods?, published the same year.9 Von Dniken popularly claimed that "our forefathers received visits from the universe in the remote past and that these 'strangers' [...] produced a new, perhaps the rst, homo sapiens." (Van Dniken, 1999; p. xxi) This theory, amongst others, has been the foundation of a number of pseudo-religionsmany of which are selfappointed religions but often labelled as cults. These groups synthesise religion and science into, on the one hand, scientic spirituality" and on the other hand "spiritualized science. (Tumminia, 2007; p. 274) The former is characterised by atheistic and physicalist beliefs applied to religious texts, such as the Ralian movement which subscribes to ideas of scientic dispensationalism (Ibid., p. 281). The so-called spiritualised science on the other hand merges such ideas with theosophical beliefs and the view that truly signicant and positive advances in human evolution, technological or otherwise, are always fundamentally spiritual (Partridge, 2006; p. 179). Whether the beliefs are more or less physicalist, there is a prevalent central anthropological theme of the origin of man, portrayed as an attempt to unite humanity and the religions of the world by identifying a common alien origin (Ibid., p. 180). There is, more importantly, always a close relationship between science and religion, technology and spiritualitythe

The Paleocontact hypothesis had however already existed for some time, with George Adamski being one of the rst known proponents of the theory in 1955. (Tumminia, 2007; p. 267)


Close Encounters of the Cinematic Kind

extraterrestrials are often seen as spiritually superior because they are scientically more advanced than human beings (Ibid., p. 179), having thus reached a stage of development where science and technology becomes to us seemingly supernatural, even spiritual. The supernatural becomes the super-technological. This relationship between science and spirituality returns in the 1997 lm Contact directed by Robert Zemeckis and, interestingly, based on a novel of the same name written by Carl Saganwho furthermore co-wrote the story outline for the lm. Sagans participation ensured the lms search for scientic accuracy, primarily by revolving the plot around the SETI research center at the Arecibo Observatory in Puerto Rico, from which the famous Arecibo Message was sent in 1974 in an attempt to communicate with extraterrestrial life. (Van der Duin, 2007; p. 176) In Contact, the researchers receive a radio transmission from an extraterrestrial race, a message which is decoded as plans for a highly sophisticated technological device that would enable communication between the two races. When the protagonist ultimately pilots the device, she is projected into a non-physical realm where she encounters a benevolent being who has taken the form of her deceased fatherthe experience is extremely spiritual. This encounter resembles the real-life accounts of so-called contactees whose meetings with alien beings have been described as numinous and awe-inspiring; this alludes to Rudolf Ottos phrase mysterium tremendum which means being awestruck, overwhelmed with humility, and lled with energy in the presence of the sacred. (Tumminia, 2007; p. 212) The heavenly


Close Encounters of the Cinematic Kind

ascensionin both senses of the termexperienced by the protagonist in Contact is, according to the alien entity, the rst step in mankinds new evolution as a cosmic race. The correlation between science and spirituality is here pinnacled, since the characters transcendent experience was made possible thanks to technology. Thus, in the same way as 2001: A Space Odyssey, while emphasising both scientic accuracy and technological sophistication, Contacts message is highly spiritual. Furthermore, since the extraterrestrial entity in both of those lms is mostly implied and portrayed as non-physical, it appears all the more like an omnipotent divine consciousness, guiding mankind through the next evolutionary step. Science and spirituality are merging as the boundaries between the two are blurred, and this relationship is at the essence of the discourse on extraterrestrial lifewhether considered in science ction cinema or in real life.

Science ction lm has the potential to expand this interrelation beyond mere content, due to the visual nature of the genre. This was rst signicantly explored by Stanley Kubrick in 2001: A Space Odyssey, which he describes as a nonverbal experience (Norden, 1968; p. 47); by peripheralising dialoguewhich accounts for less than a third of the lm Kubrick tried to create a visual experience, one that bypasses verbalized pigeonholing and directly penetrates the subconscious with an emotional and philosophical content." (Ibid.) He uses special effects combined with soundor lack thereofin an attempt to evoke in the audience a spiritual


Close Encounters of the Cinematic Kind

and sensory experience relative to the lms metaphysical message. This message is thus meant to be assimilated subjectively by each viewers unconscious with no need for an explanation. In Kubricks words, the message is the medium (Ibid.)a reference to Marshall McLuhans famous aphorism. The spiritual potential of visual effects is also heavily explored in the work of abstract lmmaker Jordan Belson who used lm as a vehicle of meditation, focusing particularly on the Eastern symbolism of the mandala. (Barron, Bernstein, Fort, 2000; p. 44) This sacred geometric design is used in Buddhism and Hinduism as an instrument for contemplation, meditation and enlightenment; it was identied by Carl G. Jung as an archetype, a symbol of the collective unconscious that appeared in dreams as a means of bringing inner order to psychic chaos. (Ibid.) The mandala expresses, according to Jung, "the totality of the individual in his inner or outer experience of the world" (Jung, 1972; p. 5) Belsons lms, such as Allures (1961), generally use a variety of harmonious spiritually-inuenced visual effects to create mandala-like designs, meant to have meditative qualities. In both 2001: A Space Odyssey and the work of Jordan Belson, special effects are employed to affect the viewer on an unconscious level, both thus acting in a sense as mandalas in Jungian terms.

2001: A Space Odyssey was a turning point in science ction history, as it was a drastic change from fties invasion lms, both in terms of content and of form. As well as being the rst to strive for scientic accuracy,


Close Encounters of the Cinematic Kind

Kubricks lm was the rst real visual spectacle which was to dene the genre and set the standards for all future science ction lms. However, it took close to ten years for the lm to get absorbed and for the genre to be revivedin particular the alien-oriented subgenrewith the release of George Lucas Star Wars (1977). (Kolker, 2006; p. 7) In addition to the lms Tolkien-worthy story world and plenitude of colourful alien characters, Star Wars appealed to a vast audience thanks to its impressive visual effects, developed by Lucas own Industrial Light & Magic (ILM). This award-winning companyfounded by Lucas specially to do the effects for the lmquickly became the premier special effects rm in the movie industry." (Harmetz, 1983; p. 136) According to the rms website, ILM has since created the effects for nearly 300 feature lms and has played a key role in 10 of the top 15 worldwide box ofce hits of all time and contributed to half of the top 50." (Industrial Light & Magic, 2010) Star Wars can thus be considered to be the rst real science ction blockbuster, that is to say a lm that for some time becomes almost impossible to ignore. (King, Krzywinska, 2006; p. 60) Visual spectacles had always been an important element of the cinematic experience, but became from this point onwards an integral part of mainstream Hollywood cinema. Visual effects can be separated into two categories; on the one hand there are the effects that are seamlessly integrated into the narrative, that serve the plot by rendering the story world more believable and by helping to convey the lms message; on the other hand there are the effects that instead distract the viewer away from the narrative by putting on a visual


Close Encounters of the Cinematic Kind

extravaganza adding little value to the story. (Ibid., pp. 64-65) Whether either type is good or bad is a matter of perspective. Pierre Bourdieu suggests that culture is stratied in the sense that taste is dependent on social class. He maintains that products of popular (low) cultureor Adornos Culture Industrysimply tend to offer an instant and spectacular gratication sought by those who have little time to develop an afnity for more complex works, i.e. high culture10. (Ibid., p. 66) These two ends of the cultural spectrum are thus considered, according to this view, to be consumed by respectively the lower classes and the upper/ middle classes. However, culture undergoes constant redivision, subdivision and further stratication, as old mass culture such as science ction or cinema breaks up into art and (mere) entertainment. (Fowler, 1997; p. 80) Such a divide occurs, as previously mentioned, with regard to visual effects in science ction lm. The majority of Hollywood blockbusters of the genre tend to fall into the category of pure visual extravaganza, rendering the subject matter secondary. In the context of extraterrestrial-themed lms, the alien loses meaning and the spectacle factor thus precludes a serious cinematic enquiry into the existence and philosophical implications of extraterrestrial life.


The differentiation between high and low culture is central to the ideas of Walter Benjamin, whose theories regard a product to be of high culture when the emphasis is on the works cultic value rather than on its display value (Benjamin, 2008; p. 12).


Close Encounters of the Cinematic Kind


Whether portrayed as evil, benevolent or neither, space aliens play an integral part in popular culture and society. Science ction lm has not only been the launchpad but also the vehicle for their widespread popularity. The emergence of alien-themed lms occurred under circumstances of fear and paranoia, as America was facing the ever-increasing apparent threat posed by the USSR and nuclear armament. The evil alien Other represented all that was un-American, in particular referring to the insidious Communism. Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1956) wasat least at rst glancea prime example of that anxiety. However, it has been proposed that, alternatively, the lm refers precisely to what is American, criticising both McCarthyism and the stupefying of the masses by what Adorno terms the Culture Industry. Whatever the interpretation, the fear of conformity is predominant. Fear in general is always integral to the evil alien scenario. This is particularly applicable to the lms that marked the return of the science ction/horror hybrid genre, such as Alien (1979) and The Thing (1982). These lms extend the concerns of alienation and otherness by portraying the human body itself as a threat and the alien Other as a source of pure evil that must be destroyed. Violence becomes the only solution to the problem. As America got new wars to ghtparticularly since the beginning of the current War on Terrorjingoistic science ction war lms depicting large-scale alien invasions became increasingly prevalent. These lms, such as Independence Day (1996) and Battle Los Angeles (2011),


Close Encounters of the Cinematic Kind

could thus promote America as the superpower that will save us from evil an evil which happens to be from space, avoiding representations of any real earthly Others. Since the rst invasion scenarios of the 1950s, evil alien lms seem to have sprung up mostly during or following times of anxiety, be it internal or external. It is interesting to note that most alien invasion lms depict America as the righteous saviour, whether covertly alluding to the Cold War or the so-called War on Terror, whereas the nightmarish smallscale alien inltration lms focusing more on internal concerns appeared mainly as Americas popularity had waned in the wake of the Vietnam War and the Watergate Scandal. On the other end of the scale are the benevolent extraterrestrial visitations. These were pioneered in science ction cinema by The Day the Earth Stood Still (1951), which arose in a very unlikely time, nonetheless providing a serious warning about the course of the world, but alsoand primordiallya vision of hope for an intelligently science-led future. The message is conveyed by a human-looking alien being exhibiting Christ-like qualities. The deication of the benevolent alienand in a sense of responsible sciencecontinues with the revival of the genre in the late seventies with Close Encounters of the Third Kind (1977) and then E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial (1982). Both lms revolve around the idealisation of childlike innocence and the arrival of the Alien Messiah; this is not only a feature of Spielbergs vision, since the themes were adopted by other lms of the era, such as Starman (1984) and Cocoon (1985). This wave of optimistic alien-loving lms started while America was still recovering from its then


Close Encounters of the Cinematic Kind

recent political ascos; the lms thus sought to bring some brightness to an era preceded by violence and distrust. This distrust in the government is a recurring element in many of the benevolent alien lms; the Establishment is often seen as deceitful and unethical. The benevolent representation of the alien visitor is integrative rather than segregative, as it positively embraces the idea of the Other instead of depicting it as an enemy. Some of the more recent lms such as Avatar (2009) or District 9 (2009) portray the extraterrestrials as victims of the humans inhumanity, thus in a sense making us the enemy. The benevolent alien has generally represented the hope and optimism for a more compassionate world, with a deeper spiritual understanding. Spirituality is indeed a fundamental element in science ction, particularly with regard to alien beings, often portrayed as spiritually more advanced than humans. Incidentally, as the name of the genre implies, science is of primordial importance, with more and more lms aiming for scientic accuracy and believability. As science and technology progress, the more spiritual theyand webecome, as is suggested in lms such as 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968) and Contact (1997). The belief is that science and spiritualitytwo concepts generally seen as antagonisticare in fact interconnected and mutually support one another. This has even become the basis for a number of religious groups, some informally referred to as UFO Religions. Leading SETI researcher Carl Sagan was involved in both aforementioned lms, helping them become two of most serious cinematic enquiries into the existence of extraterrestrial life. Interestingly, nevertheless,


Close Encounters of the Cinematic Kind

they are also two of the most spiritual lms of the genre. 2001: A Space Odyssey was not only pioneering in terms of content, but also in terms of form. Indeed, the spirituality of the lm was also expressed in the impressive visual effects employed, meant to affect the viewer on an unconscious level. However, as special effects became more and more advanced and science ction blockbusters started emerging, the divide between cinematic art and mere entertainment widened. The appeal of science ction lm resides increasingly in the lms spectacle factor; any philosophical or spiritual message that may be included in the lm loses value and credibility, as it is easily brushed off as what the name of the genre implies: pure (science) ction. Nevertheless, it is possible that visual effects, if used in the right way, can strengthen the narrative and give more credence to the themes addressed, which is the case in 2001: A Space Odyssey and arguably Avatar. Since the popularisation and proliferation of science ction lms, aliens and the idea of rst contact have become more and more part of everyday life. Due to the pervasiveness of Hollywood, most people have a notion of what extraterrestrials might look like, from the archetypal Grey to giant lizard-like creatures. Whether their existence is taken seriously by moviegoers or not, people relate to the lms in question and project onto the screen their own views of the world. It is argued that the content of lms is representative of the collective consciousness and the general sentiments of the culture and society in which these lms are produced; it is also arguable that certain lmssuch as the jingoistic invasion scenariosstem from the conspiratorial pressure applied on the Hollywood lm industry by


Close Encounters of the Cinematic Kind

higher powers. Whatever the source, the representation of alien beings on the screen is created from either of two perspectives: malevolent aliens tend to stem from a negative and fearful viewpoint, whereas benevolent aliens come from a perspective of positivity, hope and optimism.


Close Encounters of the Cinematic Kind


Adorno, Theodor W. (2001). The Culture Industry: Selected Essays on Mass Culture. London, UK: Routledge Classics Anderson, Craig W. (1985).Science ction lms of the seventies. Jefferson, NC: MacFarland Barron, Stphanie; Bernstein, Sheri; Fort, Ilene Susan (2000). Reading California: Art, Image, and Identity, 1900-2000. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press Benjamin, Walter (2008, orig. 1936). The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction, Great Ideas (trans. J. A. Underwood). London, UK: Penguin Books Billson, Anne (1997). The Thing. London: British Film Institute Publishing Biskind, Peter (2001).Seeing is believing: how Hollywood taught us to stop worrying and love the fties. London, UK: Bloomsbury Publishing Cranny-Francis, Anne (2007). Mapping Cultural Auracy: The Sonic Politics of The Day the Earth Stood Still. Social Semiotics, 17 (1), p. 87-110. UK: Routledge Field, Douglas (2005).American Cold War culture. Edinburgh, UK: Edinburgh University Press Flynn, John L. (2005).War of the worlds: from Wells to Spielberg. Maryland: Galactic Books


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Fowler, Bridget (1997). Pierre Bourdieu and Cultural Theory: Critical Investigations. Theory, Culture & Society. London, UK: SAGE Publications Ltd. Harmetz, Aljean (1983). Burden of Dreams: George Lucas. In: Kline, Sally (ed.) (1999). George Lucas: Interviews, pp. 135-144. USA: University Press of Mississippi Head, Tom (ed.); Sagan, Carl (2006). Conversations with Carl Sagan. USA: University Press of Mississippi Industrial Light & Magic (2010). About ILM [WWW]. Lucaslm Ltd. Available from: <http://www.ilm.com/> [Accessed on 13/01/2012] Jancovich, Mark (2002). Horror, the lm reader. London, UK: Routledge Jancovich, Mark (1996). Rational fears: American horror in the 1950s. Manchester, UK: Manchester University Press Jung, Carl G. (1972). Mandala Symbolism, trans. R. F. C. Hull. Princeton, NY: Princeton University Press Kaveney, Roz (2005). From Alien to The Matrix : Reading Science Fiction Film. London, UK: I. B. Tauris King, Geoff; Krzywinska, Tanya (2006). Science Fiction Cinema: From Outerspace to Cyberspace. London, UK: Wallower Press Kolker, Robert Phillip (2006). Stanley Kubrick's 2001: A Space Odyssey: New Essays. New York, NY: Oxford University Press


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Kuhn, Annette (1990). Alien zone : Cultural Theory and Contemporary Science Fiction Cinema. London, UK: Verso 1990 Norden, Eric (1968). Playboy Interview: Stanley Kubrick. In: Phillips, Gene D. (ed.). (2001) Stanley Kubrick: Interviews, pp. 47-74. USA: University Press of Mississippi OConnor, John E.; Jackson, Martin A. (1979). American History/American Film: Interpreting the Hollywood Image. New York, NY: Frederick Ungar Publishing Co. Partridge, Christopher Hugh (2006). The Re-Enchantment of the West: Alternative Spiritualities, Sacralization, Popular Culture, and Occulture. London, UK: T&T Clark International Penley, Constance (1991). Close encounters: lm, feminism, and science ction. Minneapolis, MN: University of Minnesota Press Pew Research Center for the People & the Press (1998).How Americans View Government: Deconstructing Distrust [WWW]. Pew Research Center. Available from: <http://www.people-press.org/1998/03/10/how-americansview-government/> [Accessed on 3/12/2011] Phillips, Kendall R. (2005). Projected fears: horror lms and American culture. Westport, CT: Greenwood Publishing Group Potter, Robert (1892). The germ growers: An Australian Story of Adventure and Mystery. London, UK: Melville, Mullen & Slade Sagan, Carl (2000, orig. 1973).Carl Sagan's Cosmic Connection: An Extraterrestrial Perspective.Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press


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Sanders, Steven M. (2008). The Philosophy of Science Fiction Film. Lexington, KY: University Press of Kentucky Sardar, Ziauddin; Cubitt, Sean (2002). Aliens R us : The Other in Science Fiction Cinema. London, UK: Pluto Press Telotte, J. P. (2001). Science Fiction Film. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press Tincknell, Estella (2005).Mediating the family: gender, culture and representation. London, UK: Hodder Arnold Tumminia, Diana G. (2007). Alien Worlds: Social and Religious Dimensions of Extraterrestrial Contact. Syracuse, NY: Syracuse University Press Van der Duin, Patrick (2007). Knowing Tomorrow?: How Science Deals with the Future. Delft, NL: Eburon Academic Publishers Von Dniken, Erich (1999, orig. 1968).Chariots of the Gods?: Unsolved Mysteries of the Past. New York, NY: Berkley Books Wells, H. G. (1898). The War of the Worlds. London, UK: B. Tauchnitz Westfahl, Gary (2005). The Greenwood encyclopedia of science ction and fantasy: themes, works, and wonders, Volume 3. Westport, CT: Greenwood Publishing Group White, David Manning; Averson, Richard (1972). The Celluloid Weapon: Social Comment in the American Film. Boston, MA: Beacon Press


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2001: A Space Odyssey (1968). Film. Directed by Stanley Kubrick. USA / GB: Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (MGM) / Stanley Kubrick Productions Alien (1979). Film. Directed by Ridley Scott. USA / GB: Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation / Brandywine Productions Allures (1961). Film. Directed by Jordan Belson. USA: Center for Visual Music Avatar (2009). Film. Directed by James Cameron. USA:Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation Battle Los Angeles (2011). Film. Directed by Jonathan Liebesman. USA: Close Encounters of the Third Kind (1977). Film. Directed by Steven Spielberg. USA: Columbia Pictures Corporation Cocoon (1985). Film. Directed by Ron Howard. USA: Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation Contact (1997). Film. Directed by Robert Zemeckis. USA: Warner Bros. Pictures Day The Earth Stood Still, The (1951). Film. Directed by Robert Wise. USA:Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation District 9 (2009). Film. Directed by Neill Blomkamp. USA: TriStar Pictures


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E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial (1982). Film. Directed by Steven Spielberg. USA: Universal Pictures Hurt Locker, The (2008). Film. Directed by Kathryn Bigelow. USA: Voltage Pictures Independence Day (1996). Film. Directed by Roland Emmerich. USA: Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1956). Film. Directed by Don Siegel. USA: Walter Wanger Productions Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1978). Film. Directed by Philip Kaufman. USA: Sololm Star Wars (1977). Film. Directed by George Lucas. USA: Lucaslm / Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation Starman (1984). Film. Directed by John Carpenter. USA: Columbia Pictures Corporation Thing, The (1982). Film. Directed by John Carpenter. USA: Universal Pictures Thing from Another World, The (1951). Film. Directed by Christian Nyby. USA: Winchester Pictures Corporation War of the Worlds, The (1953). Film. Directed by George Pal. USA: Paramount Pictures