True/False Film Review: The Visit

Photo courtesy of True/False Film Fest

Photo courtesy of True/False Film Fest

COLUMBIA – Greetings, Earthlings. Aliens have just made contact with humans – at least we can imagine they have, in Michael Madsen’s film, The Visit.

The Visit is a hybrid between non-fiction and fiction, pseudo-documentary portraying how government agencies across the world try to handle mankind’s first encounter with extraterrestrial life. The film was shown at the Missouri Theatre on March 8, 2015, as part of the True/False Film Fest.

The Visit creates a suspenseful narrative using stunning, dramatic visuals and sounds only seen in blockbuster movies, while bringing the audience back to Earth with intellectual insights from the government and scientific elite, such as NASA astrophysicist Christopher McKay.

The film starts at the exact second that humans make contact with alien life. Madsen takes a rather theatrical approach. People are shown on the streets, at work, in their homes, frozen in time at the moment their lives change forever.

The movie shows the government downplaying the event by releasing a statement neither confirming nor denying the existence of aliens, while a few selected scientists are chosen to reach out to the aliens.

I found the film raised many questions about how humans would handle this situation.

The film gives situational advice and explores ethical dilemmas on what the government would do. Should the government hide this from the general public? Are the aliens a threat to us? Do we pose a threat to them? Why are they here? Do we tell them about things we don’t like about ourselves? Do we tell them about war?

These questions are never really answered. Maybe Madsen was trying to show how unprepared we are if an encounter should happen. Or maybe these questions simply cannot be answered until our first contact with an alien species.

The film ended with scientists posing the question: Even if aliens were to arrive to earth, would we be able to consciously perceive them or be able to communicate with them?

One scientist points out that depending on their origin, these hypothetical aliens may see in different wavelengths, depend entirely on sound to interact with one another, or could even lack a body.

The film takes viewers for suspenseful ride. Just don’t expect any of the questions posed to be answered anytime soon.

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