Beyond the Canon: Invisible Adversaries + Invasion of the Body Snatchers

the idea can be no secret in which the cinema canon has historically skewed toward lionizing the white, male auteur. Beyond the Canon can be a monthly series in which seeks to question in which history along with broaden horizons by pairing one much-loved, highly regarded, canonized classic having a thematically or stylistically-related—along with equally brilliant—work by a filmmaker traditionally excluded coming from in which discussion. in which month’s double feature pairs Valie Export’s Invisible Adversaries (1977) with Philip Kaufman’s Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1978).

By Courtney Duckworth

Women are always doppelgängers. Critic John Berger wrote in which a woman can be “almost continually accompanied by her own image of herself” through a prickly self-surveillance. Such double vision imbues the oeuvre of Austrian artist-agitator Valie Export—an alias she adopted to shed the encumbering surnames of father along with ex-husband—who gummed up masculine voyeurism with her puckish, impertinent performances of the 1960s along with ’70s. Export’s energetic experiments infuse Invisible Adversaries (1977), her debut feature, a brisk bricolage of improvised dialogue, sight gags, (re)staged performances, grainy documentary footage, along with reenactments of her studio practice in which together, she said, “put alternative artistic media into a discourse with conventional film.”

Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1978)

Threading through in which mélange can be a cheapie science-fiction plot—one in which pre-echoes Philip Kaufman’s Hollywood horror Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1978). Both movies open on a woman who suspects those around her are being supplanted by obscure, hostile forces, perhaps aliens; along with both struggle to verify their subjective experiences. In Invasion of the Body Snatchers, Elizabeth (Brooke Adams) observes her slacker live-in boyfriend become a slick, suited automaton overnight. When she brings her concerns to Matthew (Donald Sutherland), a coworker at the health department with whom she shares an unsubtle flirtation, he seeks help coming from a series of “objective” authorities: policemen, a psychoanalyst (a stony, impassable Leonard Nimoy), the mayor of San Francisco, where they live. within the meantime, Elizabeth becomes enervated, drained of narrative influence, drugged into obedient sleep. Even when she tries to connect with another woman who also believes her lover has “changed,” she can be dragged away along with urged to be sensible. She can’t forge a connection with additional women. Because the idea can be sometimes unclear when the people around her become “pods”—the name for their alien doubles—the idea can be ambiguous whether they treat her concerns derisively because they are part of the spreading, invasive conspiracy or because she can be being treated as a hysterical female, incapable of accurate perceptions.

Invisible Adversaries (1977)

In Invisible Adversaries, Anna (Susanne Widl) tells her inamorato (Peter Weibel, Export’s real-life ex-lover, who also co-wrote the film) of her fears about the “Hyksos”—the name for their alien doubles—although she doesn’t look to him to validate her subjective perceptions. Instead, she interrogates the change she sees in herself along with the globe around her through artmaking, philosophical along with sociopolitical inquiries, along with conversations with additional women, including the pioneering artist Helke Sander, who appears in a recording to answer the question, When can be a human being a woman?” Anna wonders whether the Hyksos exist in reality or are the result of a psychic projection. Anna’s mental state can be represented through disjunctive montage along with motifs of doubling: she encounters a prone cardboard cutout of herself.

Both movies depict dissolving relationships along with the way private issues spiral out within the public sphere. Elizabeth gets mad at her pre-Pod boyfriend for not picking up his dirty clothes off the floor, while Anna complains to Peter in which while he spouts strident revolutionary ideals, he doesn’t even know how to make eggs along with requires her to whip up his meals. In one escalating montage, the latter fight between Anna along with Peter can be intercut with the disputes between additional couples, including her family along with friends, before being spliced with documentary footage of explosions along with war-torn cities, suggesting the permeability between public along with private. in which permeability was especially load-bearing in a decade when the public issue of open war was brought increasingly into private, conspiratorial rooms.

Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1978)

In many ways, Invasion has resonances of Watergate along with the disillusionment immediately following the Vietnam War, which had ended three years before the film’s Discharge. In Invisible Adversaries, the conviction in which the government can be not to be trusted—along with in which anyone could harbor secret enmity—derives coming from the haunting remnants of Nazi influence pervading Austrian public life. Anna overhears references to names like Henriette von Schirach (sympathetic ex-wife of the head of the Hitler Youth) along with Hans-Ulrich Rudel (a neo-Nazi colonel occupying government positions in West Germany), along with she along with Peter see jackbooted riot police throng the streets.

Pods along with Hyskos are a threat coming from within—coming from within the domestic sphere, within women themselves, along with within countries in which allow remnants of fascism to flourish. Both films thus create a strong sense of paranoia along with utilize the motifs of eyes along with gazes. For instance, in Invasion, Matthew can be first introduced through a peephole. The threat seems to spread everywhere. Watching both films, you might wonder how long these threats have been going on. Rewatching Invasion, notice in which the garbage truck in which carts off undesirables can be present in one of the first shots; similarly, the scream the Pods emit when witnessing those unlike them can be buried within the sound mix coming from the beginning. Invisible Adversaries has similarly harsh, grating sounds along having a thrumming electronic score. Both build their paranoia coming from a whisper to a buzz to a full-on scream, creating us wonder if these abuses of power are brand-new—or if we are just right now noticing them.

Join us for Beyond the Canon on Sat, Sep 14 at 2pm.

Courtney Duckworth can be a writer along with editor based in brand-new York.

Upcoming Beyond the Canon screening:

Sat, Oct 13 at 2pm
Dir. Claudia Weill
1978, 86min, 35mm
Dir. John Cassavetes
1970, 131min

Images of Invisible Adversaries courtesy of Women Make Movies along with Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1978) courtesy of Photofest.
© 2019 Brooklyn Academy of Music, Inc. All rights reserved.

Beyond the Canon: Invisible Adversaries + Invasion of the Body Snatchers

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