'Invasion of the Body Snatchers' Remakes

Nicole Kidman in The Invasion by Oliver Hirschbiegel
Exercise is the key to a long and healthy life, Kevin McCarthy tells Dana Wynter (who does her best to keep up) in Invasion of the Body Snatchers (top). Nicole Kidman (bottom) follows McCarthy's jogging techniques in the upcoming The Invasion.

The Invasion by Oliver HirschbiegelDennis Lim discusses the many remakes of Don Siegel's 1956 classic Invasion of the Body Snatchers in the New York Times:

“The fourth version, called The Invasion and opening Friday, appears to adhere to the outline while adding a few bells and whistles. (The film has not yet been screened for the press.) Starring Nicole Kidman and Daniel Craig and directed by Oliver Hirschbiegel (best known for the 2005 Hitler biopic Downfall), the film would seem to have an abundance of current qualms to exploit, from new pandemics and terror threats to extreme makeovers and genetic engineering.

“Still, it would be quite a feat if the new Invasion musters even a fraction of the original's ambiguous power. One of the most closely analyzed genre movies of all time, the Siegel version has inspired both conservative and liberal readings. While the film is an unmistakable portrait of individualism under siege, the nature of that threat has been open to interpretation.”

Actually, just about any work can inspire different interpretations – from ideologues of the right, the left, the center, the way out there. I can't see how Invasion of the Body Snatchers could have been an exception. Even Vittorio De Sica's Bicycle Thieves has been read as an ode to a person's inaliable right to property.

“If anyone truly wants to know what was intended as the inner meaning of Invasion of the Body-Snatchers he should ask the auteur of the novel on which it was based, and neither the director Don Siegel nor the screenwriter Daniel Mainwaring was that man. When Jack Finney, the author of The Body Snatchers [1955], was asked that question, he told us: 'Oh, I don't know. I was just trying to entertain people.'” The “us” here are Finney's son and daughter, Ken and Marguerite, who last year sent the quoted text to the New York Times.

In any case, it's hardly as if human-looking pods are a thing of the paranoid 1950s (or of our own even more paranoid era). Has there ever been a time when the vast majority of humankind was anything but unthinking, unfeeling, walking, talking pods?

And by the way, I just saw Kevin McCarthy (he of “They're here already! You're next! You're next! You're next!”) in the 2006 release Loving Annabelle. (Shortly, I'll be posting a review of this intelligent, touching drama.) In the film, McCarthy, 92 or whereabouts but looking about two decades younger, has several good moments as a quirky Catholic priest.

Perhaps the real McCarthy is like the character he played in the 1960 Twilight Zone episode “Long Live Walter Jameson” – the poor guy who, as a result of some twilight-zoneish spook or other, was destined to live on forever.

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