Director and Animator: Scott Bateman
There is a scene in the movie Men in Black where one character asks:’’ Is there anybody here who is NOT an alien?’’ That may be the point of Scott Bateman’s 5000 Space Aliens– to celebrate the unique or strange individuals one encounters daily. On the other hand, it may simply be an exercise in flashy technical skills.
A caption at the opening of the movie advises The Space Alien Commission has authorised the release of images of aliens to enable viewers to familiarise themselves with their features. However, to limit dangerous exposure the images are restricted to one per second, so 5000 flash before the eyes during the 83 minutes running time of the film. Viewers are also advised to wear anti-alien glasses and eat the film at the conclusion.
There is no narrative to 5000 Space Aliens rather Scott Bateman (who directs and animates the film in addition to composing the synths-driven soundtrack) uses found footage and photo studio pictures to build a rush of images moving so fast as to be close to subliminal. It is not the sort of movie where a reviewer can take notes, as glancing away for a few seconds means several characters will be missed.
There may be the occasional in-joke – some of the images are blurred suggestive of the famous dodgy photographs used as ‘proof’ of the existence of Bigfoot or the Loch Ness Monster. Some of the shots may be of celebrities like Paul McCartney, Roy Orbison or Robert Redford but it is impossible to be sure. To demonstrate alien attributes facial features occasionally distort, hairlines recede, or beams shoot from eyes.
Extracts from textbooks are scribbled across scenes in a manner which is both amusing and a bit disturbing – “A round protuberance,” “Give thanks for our fetishes.” Possibly the only intentional joke in the movie has the word “Civilisation” pointing to a character’s backside.
The animation techniques bring to mind the early work of director Terry Gilliam who used moving cutouts from antique photographs to link together sketches in the TV show Monty Python’s Flying Circus. It is hard, in view of the extensive use of rotoscoping to animate the images, not to think of the video “Take On Me” by the pop group a-ha.
The absence of a narrative and the repetitive nature of the images makes it difficult to retain interest in the film and the mind wanders or starts to invent a plot or purpose for the movie. Possibly the intention is to demonstrate aliens are the same as the rest of us and there is no need to fear the unknown. Even so 5000 Space Aliens remains an exercise in technique, intriguing rather than engaging.
5000 Space Aliens will be available on Digital Download from 21st November