Hollywood has long had a love affair with the subject of UFOs, but no one has written anything substantial on the subject in recent years. In his newly-released book, Silver Screen Saucers: Sorting Fact from Fantasy in Hollywood's UFO Movies, Robbie Graham presents the reader with a remarkable work of both research and philosophy.
Over the last few years Robbie and I have both been laboring with big book projects focusing on UFOs. We've commiserated and lamented on the challenges of trying to rein in the vital stuff within a swirling sea of dubious information. We are comrades in this strange field.
Below is an excerpt from Robbie's book. He chose to address the abduction lore by conducting interviews with several abductees (or perhaps more correctly, experiencers). These folks give their own thoughts and insights into UFO themed movies. Curiously, I quote Peter in my book, he shows up in the chapter on archetypes.
Meanwhile, in a mutual exchange of ‘UFOs & pop culture’ work, over at Robbie's Silver Screen Saucer site, you can check out an exclusive excerpt from my own newly-released book, The Messengers. The excerpt is from my chapter on Pop-Culture (where I quote Robbie).
Now, enjoy Robbie’s fascinating interview…
Interview conducted April 16, 2015
Peter’s story was also central to the award-winning 2003 documentary Touched, which looked sensitively at how the abduction phenomenon can impact the personal lives of experiencers.
Peter’s experiences trace back to his youth, and his first conscious recollection of them came in 1988 at the age of 33. John Mack would later invite Peter to participate in his group therapy sessions, and it was through these, and also through hypnosis, that he began to find the missing pieces of his puzzle.
I asked Peter if his experiences are ongoing. He replied that, although their physical component has ceased, the effect of his experiences, both physical and mental, continues to be felt in his daily life. In this sense, he said, his experience is ongoing and will likely never end. When I asked him if he misses his direct interactions with otherworldly intelligences, he told me:
When you come back from that experience and go back into ordinary reality, trying to pay the mortgage and the bills and plan for retirement, you know, just back into human existence, there’s a gap there. You’ve reached a state of bliss, you’ve had contact with the divine, or whatever you want to call it, and thereafter there’s always a part of you that thinks ‘those are my people, those are my tribe, that’s my real home,’ and there’s a sense of longing for that, because you’ve had that taste of it. So in that regard I miss it. But I don’t focus on it because I have to live in this world. I think that’s what’s hard for many people who’ve had the contact experience.
RG: UFOs and Hollywood – what are your immediate thoughts?
PF: It seems to me that Hollywood has a history of sensationalizing the phenomenon and consistently presenting it as traumatic – that the beings are malevolent, and that there’s a threat of invasion.
RG: What’s your emotional state while watching abduction-themed entertainment products? Do they provoke in you a visceral reaction, or are you able to view them with detachment?
PF: They absolutely elicit a visceral reaction in me of the initial trauma and the disbelief that I felt at the time. It has been very difficult for me to watch these films without being triggered, so I avoid most of them, although I have seen a few over the years. The last one I saw was The Fourth Kind (2009).
Aside from trauma, the other reaction I have is ‘This is not the whole story.’ It’s disheartening that Hollywood leaves its exploration of the phenomenon at the level of trauma, invasion, and abuse, and that it hasn’t moved into the next level, which I personally have experienced, where these intelligences are trying to break through our consciousness and have a communion with us, a conversation with us, and are trying to impart a message to us.
RG: To what extent are your own experiences reflected in these products?
PF: I would say the initial aspects – the sense of ‘this can’t be happening,’ ‘am I going crazy?, ‘who do I trust, who do I tell?’ The obsessional aspect of it – Close Encounters of the Third Kind captured that well. The complete shattering of one’s belief system and a feeling of alienation, of going crazy, of losing your mind, and the effect that it has on your family and loved ones.
RG: After becoming aware of your experiences in adulthood did you find yourself drawn to UFO-themed entertainment media in the hope of finding answers?
PF: When I first went to Dr. Mack with my experiences in my 30s, he immediately said to me ‘Please don’t read any material or watch any films on this subject, and don’t talk to anybody else, so that our regression hypnosis sessions are not tainted by an overlay of what you’ve read or seen in the media.’ So I did not look at any of these films or read anything on this topic until 1995 or 1996 after John’s book had come out.
RG: Are there any film or TV depictions of the experiencer phenomenon you’ve found to be particularly truthful or authentic?
PF: I would say that there isn’t one film that I can remember that depicts all of it, although I would say there are elements in all these movies that reflect parts of the experience. Certainly Close Encounters of the Third Kind reflected the obsessional tone of it. Communion reflected another tone, and I would say that Taken reflected the feeling and importance of the individual recognizing their experiences and then finding others who have experienced the same. In that show there was a recognition among the characters that they were not alone in their experiences, that they were not isolated, that they were part of a collective experience, whereas in Communion it was more isolated to the individual.
Another movie, Knowing, was good in the sense that it depicted a consciousness trying to reach us and show us that there are worrying events occurring that they’re aware of, and they’re trying to connect with us. It shows an individual following the threads and coming to the point where he has actual contact with these beings.
RG: What facets of the experiencer phenomenon would you like to see filmmakers explore more in the future?
PF: What I would love to see Hollywood explore more is the arc of one person, or several people’s lives, who seem to not be connected, and who individually go through the process of horror and disbelief and then move through that to acceptance, then moving to a more mutual contact with the beings to discover their true intent. I don’t want to see any more straight horror films on this subject. I think the general public is ready for a film that depicts people waking up, having the experience, following the experience, people no longer traumatized by the experience, and then moving toward something larger and more profound. A movie more along the lines of Contact. That film took it to the next level. None of the existing films show the transformation that happens for the individual.
I think the subject as a whole is challenging Hollywood to explore the next arc of this ongoing story, which is ‘how will the collective consciousness of humanity respond to this larger reality?’
So, in this sense, Contact, Knowing, and even Interstellar are the only films I can think of which depict a higher intelligence trying to communicate a message to us that’s to our benefit, but their methods of communication are mysterious and sometimes scary. Contact and Interstellar actually show us going out into space to meet these higher intelligences, whereas in the 1950s movies, the aliens came to us. But now we’re starting to have the technology to be able to go out there and meet them, and Hollywood is starting to depict that – that we can decipher their communication, we can decipher that they’re trying to connect with us, and that they’re actually trying to help us.
RG: What do you feel is the overall cultural effect of UFO-themed movies?
PF: It’s been a slow process of disclosure over sixty years using the mediums of our time, the mediums of communication, which are film and television. And I think ultimately humanity is being prepared for contact.
RG: Is this disclosure a planned political strategy, or is it a natural cultural process whereby we’re all subconsciously raising our own awareness of the phenomenon?
PF: Yes, it’s cultural. If we take a step back and put conspiracy theories to one side, I fundamentally believe that there is a collective form of preparation going on through mass media; we’re preparing ourselves for the possibility of contact. The media in any of its forms, from the town crier, to the newspaper, to the radio, to film and television, to the Internet, has always been a way for consciousness to expand; for humanity to broaden its view.
RG: So you feel that Hollywood does have a part to play in this process of awakening and acceptance? That Hollywood wields enough power as a medium to influence what people will think and ultimately do?
PF: Absolutely, because all the seeds of our imagination are planted through film and television at this point in our history, and through the media more broadly. And if the seeds are ‘don’t react with terror, ‘don’t react with fear,’ ‘don’t react with a SWAT team’ then we’ll be more predisposed to that.
Excerpt from: Silver Screen Saucers: Sorting Fact from Fantasy in Hollywood's UFO Movies, by Robbie Graham (White Crow Books, 2015) Used with permission