Invasion of the Body Snatchers: Gender and Sexuality in Four Film Adaptations. By Extrapolation

Invasion of the Body Snatchers: Gender and Sexuality in Four Film Adaptations.

By Extrapolation

  • Release Date: 2011-03-22
  • Genre: Language Arts & Disciplines

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Description

* Jack Finney's novel The Body Snatchers has proven highly adaptable, inspiring four films: Don Siegel's 1956 Invasion of the Body Snatchers, Philip Kaufman's 1978 Invasion of the Body Snatchers, Abel Ferrara's 1993 Body Snatchers and Oliver Hirschbiegel's 2007 The Invasion. The later films adapt Finney's story as much as they do the previous films--expanding on similar themes, echoing the character dynamics, and even re-casting the same actors. (1) Each film reveals profound anxiety about women's social and familial roles. The female presence vis-a-vis the pods in each adaptation demonstrates American fears about male-female relations in the particular era in which the film was produced. At the end of Siegel's 1956 film, the panicked protagonist Dr. Miles Bennell [Kevin McCarthy] crosses a busy freeway on foot, crying out to passing motorists: "They're after all of us! Our wives, our children [...] you're next!" (2) This quotation foregrounds male unease about losing control of reproduction, heterosexual relationships and the family--an anxiety that continues in the remakes. Finney's The Body Snatchers first appeared as a Colliers serial in 1954, and was then expanded and published as a novel in 1955. The narrative follows small-town doctor Miles Bennell as he investigates a spate of bizarre claims by his patients that their relatives are imposters. It is soon revealed that extraterrestrial seedpods have drifted to Earth, growing cloned bodies to replace the townspeople. A pod double develop in a matter of hours and absorbs the human mind while the victim sleeps, reducing the original body to dust. Only the person's closest loved ones can perceive the sole difference: the pod's lack of emotion. Though it possess the victim's memories, it can manage only the pretense of human affection, passion or ambition. Miles and his high school sweetheart Becky Driscoll uncover the truth and work together to defeat the pods. In the midst of this crisis, Miles and Becky, both recently divorced, rekindle their youthful romance. The couple saves the town, prevents the pods from taking over the planet, and a happy ending is assured.