July 21st, 2005


They Live!

~ John Carpenter's ~
They Live!
{XXIV A.S. Directed by John Carpenter. Starring Roddy Piper, Keith David, Meg Foster}

An unassuming blue-collar construction worker comes into possession of a pair of sunglasses which reveal the truth behind society's mental manipulation strategies upon the common herd. Aliens with skull-faces appear through the frames, and covert messages on just about every commercial product become revealed, with statements such as "Sleep", "Obey" "Do not question authority", "submit", "conform", and "No Imagination" array everything from magazines to billboards, to televised programs - to propitiate a soma on the human populace.

Seems they are integrating into earth culture in order to provide a sort of vacation spot for themselves, end up buying out the whole media, and consider current society to be likened a third-world country.

"John Nada" {stunt-wrestler Roddy Piper} seeks the alliance of a fellow proletarian "Frank" {Keith David}, and end up in a scuffle which includes a suplex and a back-breaker, patented show-wrestling moves, all because he just would not wear those glasses, but he finally does, and the veritable "scales" fall from his eyes as well. The fight lasts a bit too long, even thtough it is understandable considering the profession of the actor.

They join an underground rebel organization which is itself eventually destroyed by alien forces. With their newly-acquired contact lenses, Nada and Frank go about as a two-man rebel crew to blast every alien they perceive and eventually stumble upon their cloaking device - a ray broadcasting the holographic deception upon the world, thus revealing the scheme to humans. Earlier on, while escaping from his initial realization, Nada placed his confidence in a treacherous woman who at one point actually knocks him out of a two-story window, yet he persists placing his trust in her ingratitude, to tragic results in the conclusion of the film, taking the life of his best friend. Turns out she was on the aliens' side all along.

I thought it was interesting how the messages are in black & white, as in duality, and the aliens seem to represent thanatos with the skull-head death {totenkopf} connotation. This reminds Me of the "invisible war" Dr. LaVey discusses in The Devil's Notebook.

Overall, They Live is an Orwellian film displaying certain subtle truths present, even in the media today, the new god of the masses.

[Rating: 4/5]