Thursday, December 1, 2011

In short: Alternative 3 (1977)

While making a reportage about the brain drain of scientific minds from Britain, the team of UK's Anglia TV's Science Report stumbles upon a series of suspicious disappearances of highly qualified people. The investigation leads the journalists onto the trail of a grand conspiracy among international governments that at once tries to hide the truth about climate change and the coming inhospitability of Earth for human life and their solution to the problem: cart off a few chosen ones to the moon and a terraformed Mars.

Obviously, the Apollo program was only devised to distract the populace from what's actually going on, and if that doesn't work, there are clearly other steps the conspiracy is willing to take to keep things on Earth calm.

Alternative 3 is a fine demonstration of the fact that the fake documentary is not a filmic form invented in this century. Initially meant to be an April Fool's joke but only broadcast in June 1977, this episode of the actual science show Science Report recommends itself to friends of conspiracy theories by virtue of a well-constructed conspiracy that is - as is only fair and proper for something in a science show - on the more sensible side of conspiracy theories and avoids all the alien abduction and grey reptiloids eating our fear business, instead opting for something´more based in actual scientific ideas going around at the time, like proper Science Fiction.

Apart from the quality of its construction and an air of objectiveness that fits the documentary format nicely, Alternative 3 also succeeds surprisingly well as a TV movie. I wouldn't have expected people with a background in journalism instead of fiction to be quite so adept at simple yet effective dramaturgical and directorial tricks as the makers of the movie are, but there's a nice sense of escalation throughout the script as well as some really clever uses of the documentary format. The film even uses different formats of footage to create verisimilitude as well as the proper mood. The latter is further enhanced with the help of a soundtrack by Brian Eno which sets a fitting ambience for the story the film presents. Eno's presence and the obvious care the film takes with little details demonstrate how much love has gone into it - there's nothing half-assed about what should be a throw-away episode; in fact, I'd be glad if more of the found footage movies booming right now would take an approach this careful and loving.

Having congratulated it on it's verisimilitude, I'm still a bit surprised that Alternative 3's conspiracy theory seems to have become the basis for some actual conspiracy theories. There are even some people who think the show is an actual documentary only pretending to be a fake, even though it should be pretty obvious to anyone who has ever seen a movie how much what happens on screen is carefully staged. And let's not even start on the actors clearly acting.

But that's crackpots for you.


Technorati-Markierungen: ,,,

No comments: