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Parent Issue
Day
8
Month
February
Year
1974
OCR Text

CHARIOT OF THE GODS is not a movie- it is a question of religious conversión. The usual chit ehat overheard in the lobby after the show isn't "Did you like it?" It is "Did you believe it?" CHARIOTS falls into the form of a heavily instructional and provocative documentary-the old high school civicsmovie gone celestial and intellectually hip. The fïrst third of the movie is composed of rather poorly selected and photographed stills of great art through the ages and cultures. The visuals of the rest of the film are moving shots of temples, caves, monuments and religious documents. These sequences lead one into a state of exhilaration, much like the excitement of looking at the pictures in any issue of National Geographic. They bring out in the viewer those long suppressed dreams of exotic round the world travel. One cannot help longing for the open road and the open seas. I saw it with an English friend who was here on his annual visit to friends and family. This thoroughly-traveled voyager had been to many of the places in the film, and like everyone else but even more so it filled his brain and imagination with a deep desire to see and know all those spots threatened by the out-reaching tentacles of Western Progress. Unfortunately the move does not allow one to rest in rapture over the temples of the Mayans or the ancient arts of Turkey. The narrative constantly demands that you keep up, synthesize each one of the provacative arguments and move onto the next. The film argües that ancient buildings and arts indícate that there was contact between this world and other planets centuries ago. It is impossible to recall the number of arguments presented, but most of them pass far too quickly to allow thorough analysis by the viewer. I followed it as rapidly as possible, and found many of the propositions woefully subjective. The constant question is "Can all this be coincidence?" The most efficiënt and logical way of dealing with this bulk of information is to stand back at a distance and consider the arguments as a whole. A major problem with the film is that it is presented in a completely ethnocentric manner. White European culture is understood as completely and unquestionably superior --the world-wide apex of technical and spiritual advancement. Forexample, while the religions of other cultures are treated as silly myths and superstitions, Christianity as revealed in the Bible is understood as true and logical. This' attitude pervades and colors the film far beyond the specific sections dealing with the Bible. It develops into a presumption that ancient non-white cultures were mentally incapable of developing their own technologies, and that their reIigious and philosophical systems were not capable of standing on their own. The premise is that surely beings of superior technical advancement must have influenced these "undeveloped" cultures. In fact these cultures cannot be measured in terms of Western Progress. Nor can it be presumed that there was no cultural interaction amongst these ancient civilizations. The movie does not allow the viewer to realize that these cultures persued intellectual specialization. potentially beyond what we now comprehend. That is why the film's theories are "controversial"--because they ignore what anthropologists have learned about the technology, religión and social systems of ancient cultures. If you watch the film with a sense of acknowledged respect for the intellect and interaction of other cultures, only some of the arguments of the film remain standing. Some of the examples of contact between this planet and other worlds do remain as major puzzles. How did those unidentified air strips and landing markers get carved into the Peruvian hills'? How did the Peruvian stone wall cities fit together so accurately. without mortar? How were pyramids and Egyptian monoiiths moved from a distance of many miles? Or are we underestimating the power of 14 million slaves? How did the mammoth statuesget onto Easter Island, 3,000 miles off the nearest coastline? Or was there a land bridge then that we still don't know about? For nearly every interpretation in the film, there is at least one other possible answer. Our own scientists'knowledge has certainly not reached the point where we can explain the origins of our planet with any certainty. But you cannot just sit through the movie and accept its premises because the concept is so tantalizing. The film tries not to allow mental breathing time, but the viewers must force themselves to think and analyse rapidly. The true irritant of the film is its religious tone. It offers, just as any religión does, a total answer to the mysteries of the world and the universe. It lays a structure of thinking upon hundreds of cultural achievements and uses them for its own purposes. It does continued on page 19 CHARIOTS L continued from page 1 7 not allow alternative answers, interpretations or facts. Like any radical religious movement, the film demands that you believe. The major movie event in town this week is Women in the Reel World-the Women's film festival which runs through this Sunday, February 10. Films and workshops will be held in Aud. E 170 in the Physics and Astronomy Building on East University Street in Ann Arbor. See the Calendar at the back of the SUN for a complete list of times and events. The Festival features a number or rarely seen films made by women and appearances by some major women film makers and critics. One of these women is New York film critic Marjorie Rosen, author of the terrific recently published Popcorn Venus, a feminist social history of the movies. Technology and media have long been dominated by men, but by no means has film been the exclusive turf of that other sex. An event of the scale and enthusiasm of Women in the Reel World builds awareness of female accomplishments and develops talent and enthusiasm for future developments. Women's films in the last few Ann Arbor Film Festivals ("World's Largest Festival of Independent Film") have been great, full of new ideas in a media that showed signs of depleting its possibilities. The cali for women to make movies is far more than the political demand that we want what they've got. It amounts to a major new form of input- one which can make movies less expected, less stereotyped, and more human. Little room to discuss it, but Woody Allen's SLEEPER is a funny movie. You'll laugh out loud.