Friday, January 31, 2014

Penny Thoughts ‘14—Chariots of the Gods (1970) **

G, 92 min.
Director: Dr. Harald Reinl
Writers: Harald Reinl, Wilhelm Roggerdorf, Erich von Däniken (books “Erinnerungen an die Zunkunft” and “Zurück zu den Sternen”)
Narrator: Jean Fontaine

“Chariots of the Gods” is the holy bible for fans and followers of the History Channel’s “Ancient Aliens”, a “reality” series that examines the possibilities that human civilization was cultivated by alien races. Structures like the Egyptian pyramids, the stone heads of Easter Island, and the Mayan temples of South America, seem to defy the technology available at the times of their building. Some people think this is because these cultures had extra terrestrial help.

The arguments aren’t uncompelling. There are a great many questions raised by some of the practices of ancient civilizations. “Chariots of the Gods” is at its best when it is asking those questions. It tends to go off the rails a little when it suggests some of the answers, and it struggles with finding any sort of proof to support its theories. A positive that it has over the “Ancient Aliens” series is that you don’t have to see the crazy of the talking heads speaking loudest about these out of this world theories.

Well, actually that makes the television series a little more entertaining than this rather dry presentation of the theories put forth in Erich von Däniken’s two books on this subject. The film plays like one of those educational documentaries you watched in your sixth grade science class if you went to school in the 70s. There isn’t really any science employed, although the narrator certainly is convincing in speaking as if there is.

This is a documentary that has a legacy behind it, and that’s why I sought it out. Its legacy is really only due to its subject matter, not its presentation. You can probably forego this viewing experience and just watch Ridley Scott’s “Prometheus” instead. You’ll get the gist of what this doc has to say and you’ll also get some entertainment to go along with it and some stylish direction.

Watch the entire documentary below.

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