Monday, March 29, 2010

Alternative 3 (1977)

I've always loved British TV-productions, and the best thing with it is that it never ends. There's tons and tons of quality dramas, thrillers, science fiction and everything between heaven and hell that you can imagine. Right I'm watching The Omega Factor, Beasts, Children of the Stones - all fantastic shows - but also mini-series like Nightmare Man and movie like the masterful The Stone Tape. So I decided to give Alternative 3 a go, a mockumentary that caused some controversy when it was aired in June 1977. It was first meant as a serious hoax for April Fool's Day, but it was delayed and people just wasn't expecting something like that to happen without warning.

We follow real life TV-host Tim Brinton in Science Report. He and his team was first out to make a documentary about the "brain-drain", the hiring of British scientists by foreign governments. But they also discover that 24 of these people has disappeared without a trace, sometimes alone and sometimes with their families. Where are they? Slowly the team uncovers more and more leads, and show them that there's a way bigger conspiracy taking place - that involves murder and paranoia...

This is of course a top-notch production. Nowadays the acting and sometimes the directing can be a little bit to unconvincing, not so "real", but for an unsuspecting audience during the summer of '77 it probably gave a bigger impact. But still, this is a tense and nail-biting little mockumentary in the way only a the British television could have done it. It's slow and talky, a bit on-the-nose - but very engaging and smart. The script carefully gives us more and more clues, trying to get us to make up our own theories about what the conspiracy is all about.

It's a very good thing using unknown actors (but I'm sure you will recognize Shane Rimmer and Richard Marner) in combination with the very real and dead-serious Tim Brinton. Another thing which makes this quite unique is that it focuses a lot on environmental problems, which makes it seem a bit prophetic sometimes. But first of all it's an elaborate April Fools Day's hoax, a fine little TV-thriller with a nice complicated conspiracy theory and a really cool "found footage"-sequence!

I recommend you all to go to - for example - and get yourself a copy of this lovely little movie.

And because we live in this crazy, crazy world - there's actually people who think this movie is real, or at least based on real facts, and that the April Fool-thing was just a cover-up from the government to make everything believe it was a fake! Just read more here if you dare - but it has a LOT of spoilers.

1 comment:

CiNEZiLLA said...

Dude! You really should check out GHOSTWATCH! That also caused a real stir up when it aired in the UK.

I just interviewed the writer on that one last week at the WHC, (Stephen Volk) and he told some hilarious tales of what the press and silly letters the offended viewers had written to the BBC after the show.

Check it out, I know you will dig it!