The 1956 film The Invasion Of The Body Snatchers is a seminal piece of cinema. This movie combined the theme of alien invaders with that of xenophobia and the fear of communists infiltrating American society. Kevin McCarthy and Dana Wynter starred in the film, and directed by Don Siegel, in an Allied Artists film. The film was based on a novel by Jack Finney called The Body Snatchers.
This black and white movie is atmospheric and establishes quickly a tone of distrust and disquiet, by creating a world in which normalcy seems just out of place. This questioning of normalcy, especially in the context of 1950s America, in which conformity was seen as a virtue, is a strength of the movie. In post World War Two America, many people lived in a segregated world, divided by race, class, and religion. Also, the United States was suffering through the hearings run by Senator Joe McCarthy, which were a modern version of witch hunts. The level of paranoia that was permeating American society is reflected in this film. Additionally, the possible effects of scientific research on humanity as well as the omnipresent nuclear threat also inform the tone of this film.
Certainly, there were people who opposed the insanity of the time, people such as the writers Dashiell Hammett and Lillian Hellman, and the journalist Edgar R. Murrow, but I will discuss their courage in another post in the future.
Invasion Of The Body Snatchers has grown in popularity and has become recognized as one of the most important science fiction films of the 1950s, if not in American cinema as a whole. The idea of the loss of humanity behind the façade of a person’s face gives rise to the current explosion of zombie movies. This movie also gave America the term that would live in our consciousness of “pod people.” It is a brilliant movie, and one that I suggest that you see if you have not.
“Anti-intellectualism has been a constant thread winding its way through our political and cultural life, nurtured by the false notion that democracy means that ‘my ignorance is just as good as your knowledge.’”
“Let us not seek to satisfy our thirst for freedom by drinking from the cup of bitterness and hatred.”
Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
“The ballot is stronger than the bullet.”
“Our democratic country must maintain the separation of Church and State and move towards elimination of bigotry of all kinds. If we regress towards a far right view of the world, then the result will be the loss of that democracy and of our freedom. In the name of those who fought and died for our freedom, let us maintain American democracy.”
Charles F. French
“The liberty of a democracy is not safe if the people tolerate the growth of private power to a point where it becomes stronger than the democratic state itself. That in its essence is fascism: ownership of government by an individual, by a group, or any controlling private power.”
Franklin D. Roosevelt
“Are you a communist?”
“No I am an anti-fascist”
“For a long time?”
“Since I have understood fascism.”
“A fascist is one whose lust for money or power is combined with such an intensity of intolerance toward those of other races, parties, classes, religions, cultures, regions or nations as to make him ruthless in his use of deceit or violence to attain his ends.”
“Fascism is not something simply to be studied in historical terms from the past, something that happened in other places and times. We, in the United States of America, face the rise of fascism in the form of religious fanaticism and bigotry against minorities, women, and the poor. If we do not act and vote against this rising flood of far-right extremism, we risk losing the freedom and democracy for which our ancestors fought and often gave their lives to defend.”
Charles F. French
I just returned from a small weekend excursion and learned of the news of the overturning of Roe V. Wade. Those who follow this blog know that I try not to comment on politics on this site; I attempt to keep it a place for writing and art. There are times, however, when I cannot be silent here.
In a country in which the overwhelming majority of Americans support the right of women to have control over their bodies, the Supreme Court struck a blow for the religious views of the far right, and they seem to have forgotten the concept of the separation of Church and State. This is an extreme action taken by an extreme component of the American society, and it frightens me because it is a movement that could end with the country being controlled by a religious minority. Perhaps, I am seeing the worst possible conclusion, but the history of the world shows movements towards tyranny if not otherwise opposed.
I am also dismayed to think about the people in this country who voted for a fringe left wing candidate instead of Hillary Clinton against Donald Trump. Had they voted practically, Roe V Wade would still be the established law of the land, and the Supreme Court would be a different makeup.
If Americans who support Women’s rights and are also in support of true gun control act in the next election, these mistakes can be rectified. But it will take a focused action, and a decision by Americans to support what the MAJORITY of Americans support.
Again, I am disgusted and dismayed by the Supreme Court. Please remember what happened during the next election, and let’s move the country back to a reasonable place away from the far right and potential fascism.
“What a sad era when it is easier to smash an atom than a prejudice.”
“No one is born hating another person because of the colour of his skin, or his background or his religion. People learn to hate, and if they can learn to hate, they can be taught to love, for love comes more naturally to the human heart than its opposite.”
“There should be no discrimination against languages people speak, skin color, or religion.”
“Bigotry of all kinds is intolerable, unjustifiable, and immoral. We, as human beings, must always be willing to stand up against any kind of bigotry.”
Charles F. French
“Courage is resistance to fear, mastery of fear – not absence of fear.”
“I learned that courage was not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it. The brave man is not he who does not feel afraid, but he who conquers that fear.”
“We gain strength, and courage, and confidence by each experience in which we really stop to look fear in the face. . . we must do that which we think we cannot.”
“We must always have the courage to oppose tyranny, bigotry, and ignorance. We must speak out, use the power of our voices, and we must vote!”
Charles F. French
I hope all of you have had a wonderful weekend, but I also hope you remember why this holiday, Memorial Day, exists. The word “holiday” comes from “holy day,” and the remembrance of this day and its purpose should be sacred. It was originally known as Decoration Day after the end of the Civil War, and it was designated Memorial Day in the 20th Century.
This day is intended to honor, give thanks, and remember those who have sacrificed their lives for The United States of America. Please honor the fallen and the wounded on this day. I realize the day was meant originally for the dead, but I extend my wishes and thanks to the wounded also. Regardless of political beliefs or stands on a war, these are the men and women who fought to keep us safe, and they deserve our remembrance.
They deserve our thanks and our honor.
Please keep in mind that this day is not merely the beginning of the summer season, nor is it intended to be the time of a special sale. This should be a sacred and somber time. There will be plenty of opportunity for shopping and vacationing afterwards. Please remember those who sacrificed.