INVADERS FROM MARS
Scen.: Richard Blake. F.: John F. Seitz. M.: Arthur Roberts. Scgf.: Boris Leven, William Cameron Menzies. Mus.: Raoul Kraushaar. Int.: Helena Carter (dottoressa Pat Blake), Arthur Franz (dottor Stuart Kelston), Jimmy Hunt (David MacLean), Leif Erickson (George MacLean), Hillary Brooke (Mary MacLean), Morris Ankrum (colonnello Fielding), Max Wagner (sergente Rinaldi), William Phipps (maggiore Cleary), Milburn Stone (capitano Roth), Janine Perreau (Kathy Wilson). Prod.: Edward L. Alperson per National Pictures Corp. DCP. D.: 78’. Col.
Many invasion films begin with an image of myriad stars seen from an undefined point in the cosmos; usually, the Earth is merely one dot among thousands. Sometimes, the camera advances through space until one planet, ours, becomes identifiable. […] Invaders from Mars follows this strategy, with one crucial variation: the camera movement moves from the cosmos and, through a series of dissolves, towards a house, a window, a sleeping child. Through the window frame you can distinguish the outline of a telescope, and the child’s first gesture will be to bring his eye to it in order to look at the heavens. It is like a passing of the baton (from the stars to the Earth and vice-versa) that assigns the film’s point-of-view to the child. The audience for 1950s sci-fi was predominantly adolescent, or even younger. As a result, several films feature young protagonists. […] David, the hero of Invaders from Mars, is also an expert in the genre: an avid reader of pulp magazines, an aspiring scientist, and well informed about the UFO sightings that liven up the news. The story the film tells will be primarily his adventure, and only secondarily a matter of national and global concern. […] In several moments, Menzies’ expert mise en scène makes effective use of an anomalous, distorted, childlike and oneiric point-of-view. […] It is possible to dismiss Invaders from Mars as a film for children, providing that you accept the ambiguities and troubling signs that punctuate it. […] Parents are transformed from loving educators into dictators (incidentally, there is perhaps a hint of apprehension in the secrecy of the missile projects the father is working on); an angelic little girl makes a demonic smile after setting fire to her own home; the bogeyman lands freely immediately outside the garden fence. It is a golden face enclosed in a glass jar and lacking tentacles, an impassive example of ‘pure intelligence’; at the same time, it produces the darkest nightmares and the most unforgettable dreams.
Andrea Meneghelli, in Andrea Meneghelli, Roy Menarini, Fantascienza in cento film, Le Mani, Genova 2000
Restored in 4K in 2022 by Ignite Films under the supervision of Scott MacQueen at Roundabout Entertainment laboratory, from the original camera negative and three SuperCINEColor prints preserved at UCLA Film & Television Archive, George Eastman Museum and National Film & Sound Archive of Australia