T. It.: Assalto Alla Terra; Sog.: Da Un Racconto Di Georges Worthing Yates; Scen.: Ted Sherdeman, Russell Hughes; F.: Sidney Hickox; Mo.: Thomas Reilly; Scgf.: Stanley Fleischer; Su.: Francis J. Scheid; Mu.: Bronislaw Kaper; Int.: James Whitmore (Sergente Di Polizia Ben Peterson), Edmund Gwenn (Dott. Harold Medford), Joan Weldon (Dott. Patricia Medford), James Arness (Robert Graham), Onslow Stevens (Brig. Gen. Robert O’brian), Sean Mcclory (Mag. Kibbee), Chris Drake (Soldato Ed Blackburn), Sandy Descher, Mary Ann Hokanson (Sig.ra Lodge), Don Shelton (Capitano Fred Edwards), Fess Parker (Alan Crotty), Olin Howland (Jensen); Prod.: David Weisbart Per Warner Bros.; Pri. Pro.: 5 Aprile 1954; 35mm. D.: 94′.
Desert. A young girl is in shock and not without reason. Her father, a vacationing FBI agent, lies dead in the cellar. Their camper has been crushed like an empty beer can. In the desert are strange signs, cubes of sugar surrounded by ants – the “monsters” this time are giant ants. If one puts oneself in the context of 1954, and in the place of an American spectator, the behaviour and belligerence of the mass of ants are the incarnation of the communists, whether yellow or red. In the key position are the military. The Capitol is like a Christmas tree in the Washington night. From it, martial law is declared, but at the same time a real perplexity reigns. The apocalypse has begun. The giant ants are often moving so fast that their primitive threat persists – as if it came directly from the subconscious. The terror originates from the never-ending character of the mission: if the mission succeeds in finding “the queen”, will it be possible to eradicate the threat? The threat is impersonal, but it is evident that these ants are a result of the first atomic bomb – and beyond this the consequences produced by successive bombs remain quite uncertain. A new era, the epoch of despair, bears down in a permanent fashion. Aggression flares up at every level, in the authorities and in ordinary people. The terror is all the greater for the unpredictability of the attacks and of that cruel, whiplash speed with which the events, surprising in a certain sense, spring from below the earth and undermine security in an irreversible manner. This masterpiece of the Cold War captures the essence of the period in many ways at the same time. The rapidity of the framing, the ascetic style and the arid and whipping power of the shooting and editing become a kind of shorthand of collective hysteria. To the poetics of terror belong, in an organic manner, the images which might be defined as official. The world of functionaries is just as terrorizing as the fear of the atomic bomb.
Peter von Bagh