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ROSWELL
DVD. Fabulous Films.

RoswellNot to be confused with the teen SF TV series, this 1994 movie takes a surprisingly sober look at the Roswell UFO incident through the eyes of Air Force Major Jesse Marcel, the man held responsible for ‘mistakenly’ identifying the recovered crash debris as coming from a flying saucer.

In passable old-age make up, Kyle MacLachlan plays Marcel, attending an air force reunion in the 1970s and determined to reveal the truth after being the subject of ridicule for decades. Through meetings with other military and civilian personnel who were involved in the case, he begins to piece together the story (told in flashbacks), before a meeting with the shadowy Martin Sheen fills in all the details. But how much of what he is told is the truth, and what proof is there? Foreshadowing an episode of The X-Files, Sheen explains how it really was a UFO that crashed, and that alien bodies – including one survivor – were recovered, but then admits he could be lying… or that a deliberate programme of disinformation (the truth revealed by easily discredited sources, deliberate UFO hoaxes planted to be uncovered and a subtle encouragment of UFO nuts and conspiracy theorists) was used to keep anyone from believing the truth, no matter how many eye-witnesses come forward.

It’s fascinating stuff, and while viewers may not believe that we’ve been visited by extra terrestrials, the idea that the government and the military would hang someone out to dry, ruining their life in order to keep a secret… well, that’s all too plausible.

Made for US cable, this is an efficient, highly entertaining drama that is more conspiracy thriller than science fiction film – while there are scenes involving very effective looking aliens, they appear in the context of the eye witness stories, and those stories are often conflicting. While the film’s sympathies are with MacLachlan’s character, it’s left to the viewer to decide how much of this is true. Admirably though, the film does stick to the established facts of Marcel’s life – he maintained until his death that the material he recovered was ‘not of this Earth’ and that the ‘weather balloon’ he was photographed with was not the material that he had found.
With a cast of familiar TV faces (this really is one of those films where you find yourself thinking "oh, it’s that guy from…" a lot), this is a great example of an unfussy, unpretentious movie that, while not exactly groundbreaking, is a very agreeable viewing experience, and well worth a look.

Sadly, the same can’t be said about the UFO Chronicles documentary included on the disc. Also from 1994, this seems to include every wingnut and fanatic in the UFO scene, with idiotic tales of abduction, aliens breeding with humans, the two buffoons who’ve formed some sort of galactic federation and more - really, aliens? If you can travel through space to other planets, can’t you find more credible ambassadors than a handful of rednecks and mental cases? A disposable extra.

DAVID FLINT

BUY IT NOW (UK)

BUY IT NOW (USA)

 

 

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