San Francisco scenery in The Invasion of the Body Snatchers movie
Golden Gate Bridge, Bay Area, Coit Tower, City Hall – show at least one of them in the movie and with no doubt everyone will recognize the place of action. San Francisco is a beloved city for shooting among the filmmakers, and it is understandable. There is something extraordinary and exceptional about the city, the peculiar character, which can make the movie stronger. San Francisco has a long story of filmmaking: because of its breathtaking scenery, iconic landmarks, and picturesque locations. However, marvelous views are not the only thing that keeps producers come to the city to do the shooting. The San Francisco city is one of the movie actors, which together with human beings helps to make outstanding moving pictures. The Vertigo and The Invasion of the Body Snatchers movies had experienced the impact of the city character on the plot and the general perception of the film.
San Francisco scenery in The Invasion of the Body Snatchers movie.
The history knows several versions of The Invasion of the Body Snatchers movie, but the first one is taking place in a small town in California, when its remake is moving to San Francisco. The decision belongs to Phillip Kaufman, the director of the remake (Insdorf 135). The first shot of the city in the film is showing pyramidal Transamerica Building despite the most famous bridge – The Golden Gate Bridge. The Pyramid is seen from the apartment of Matthew, whom Donald Sutherland successfully played, and also there is the image of the building in the flat. The decision to start the movie with the Transamerica building was not random. The producer of the motion pictures was a subsidiary of the Transamerica conglomerate, and the presence of the building was the joke, understandable only by the inner circle. The Pyramid appears in the movie several times – in the background as a part of the scenery or on the posters in the rooms (Schneider 25).
Kaufman was right, when he decided to change the location from the little town into a big city with personal image and soul. The plot of the movie tells about the invasion from the outer space, but not in the traditional way. The form of the toxic organisms influenced the brain, and after an individual falls asleep, the person died. In the community that is facing intense evolution and development, a small city cannot picture the whole issue of the problem. Characters of that kind have to live in a dynamic environment with constant changes, because it can show better the seriousness of the situation and the development of the human characters in the stressful conditions. The citizens of the small town of the middle fifties cannot face the invaders face-to-face, when brave people of San Francisco have this inner power.
In The Invasion of the Body Snatchers, there are four protagonists, which influence the performance. Two of them are the workers of the Health Department, played by Donald Sutherland and Brooke Adams, who are the first to understand that some wrong actions were taking place in the city. They are the part of San Francisco, its human face. They are the representatives of the legal part of the city’s government. Veronica Cartwright and Jeff Goldblum played the other two characters (Gorman & McCarthy 15). They present the average habitants of the city, who has the big heart and strong citizenship, which help them to fight through the whole movie. That means, even the human face of San Francisco is playing significant role in representing the city in the picture.
The film can be named as quintessential performance of San Francisco views and symbols. It has that particular cosmopolitan character. Many different parts of the city help to show the landscape and to form the mood needed. The number of green color in the city references to the origin of the alien plan – the invasion with the help of the flowers and plants. The city of San Francisco is not the custom city of the US. It has some mystical features, with all its buildings and monuments, and still it is very up-to-date and dynamic place. There is no other suitable city in the world that can combine the hearted people and the cruel alien invaders. With the help of the magnificent scenery, the director succeeded to prove “something was happening” using no words. That “something” was in the air of the city. The fight could not have been more picturesque and sincere, if it took place elsewhere but San Francisco.
The Vertigo movie and the role of San Francisco in it.
The Vertigo film of the marvelous director Alfred Hitchcock was named the best movie shot on the City by the Bay by Sight & Sound magazine of the British Film Institute in 2012 (Harris 23). San Francisco helped to make the movies obsessively romantic and mystic at the same time. The city is the other actor of the film, the scenery of which is playing an important role in the plot.
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When the average person is asked about the best shots of San Francisco in the history of filming, practically everyone will name The Vertigo movie. The first glimpse on the city is the opening scene. Police detective John Fergusson together with his partner chases the criminal on the rooftops. The beauty of the streets is shown from above. With the development of the story, John becomes a private detective and gets the case of Madeline Gavin, the wife of his school friend (Cunningham 14). It is the time when the sights of San Francisco start their acting in the movie.
Obsessed Madeline made magnificent scene on the Golden Gate Bridge. In the scene when woman is pouring flowers in the water, the bridge is shown from another angle, not common for the films – people see it from the bottom. Madeline jumped from above, but was rescued by John. The image of them standing in the shadow of Golden Gate was used for the film promotion.
Originally, the novel was taking place in France. Alfred Hitchcock was the one who decided to move it to San Francisco, because the city has its charm and mystery (Cunningham 47). It is like a friend from good old times which is very familiar, but in the evening and with different lights, it is showing the hidden objects and the history of the streets. Every street corner has its story to tell, and they succeeded to do it without saying a word. The streets revealed themselves wicked and unsafe. That helped to form the general atmosphere of the picture.
The narrowness of San Francisco streets and the mystery of them are helping to emphasize the psychological tension between the characters. The scenery forms a claustrophobic feeling among the spectators; it is scaring and obsessing. The famous serpentine Lombard Street gives the movie the dizziness it needs. The Legion is also one of the important locations for the motion picture (Harris 11). In general, it has three indoor and three outdoor shows in the film. With its spectacular architecture, it shows the global intentions of the director to show the beauty of the city and its mystic character. Alfred Hitchcock did a marvelous piece of work that despite the interesting plot can be the documentary of San Francisco scenery in the second half of XX century.
The role of San Francisco in the film industry.
The San Francisco city is the connecting image of the American Dream. It is a mystical and independent place, a genuine state of mind. The lights of people’s dreams emerge in the streets of it every night. That is why San Francisco is so popular among directors.
There is something special with this city. It is not so busy, as New York is, but it still has its character and rhythm. The dynamic of the development of the city is rapid, and every camera succeeds to show it. San Francisco is distinct from other American cities; it has something European. The scenery of San Francisco is breathtaking; it has its intimacy and openness, which is not typical for other towns.
San Francisco is a moody city, which attracts attention of a global community. It can be very calm and slow, and the other day it appeared busy and fancy. That change of character is suitable for movies, where the action is changing rapidly. The Alcatraz is only strengthening this feature. This mystic and terrifying location has many stories to tell to the humanity.
This incredibly extraordinary, beautiful and magnetic city is giving inspiration to many directors and writers in the world. San Francisco is both fragile and robust. The chase for the invented ghosts and the search for love become an adventure when the location is situated near the atmospheric Bay Area. The romantic can turn into masterpiece with the help of the Golden Gate Bridge. The rooftops of the city can bring a feeling of freedom and hope. These are only several reasons why the city of San Francisco is taking the imagination of spectators and filmmakers from the beginning of XX century. There is hope that the quantity of breathtaking movies shot in San Francisco will increase, and the beauty of the city will remain in the memories of the descendant forever.
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Cunningham, Douglas A. The San Francisco of Alfred Hitchcock’s Vertigo: Place, Pilgrimage, and Commemoration. Lanham: Scarecrow Press, 2011. Print.
Gorman, Ed & McCarthy, Kevin. Invasion of the Body Snatchers: A Tribute. Eureka: Stark House Press, 2006. Print.
Harris, Scott Jordan. World Film Locations: San Francisco (Intellect Books – World Film Locations). Wilmington: Intellect Ltd, 2013. Print.
Insdorf, Annette. Philip Kaufman (Contemporary Film Directors). Champaign: University of Illinois Press, 2012. Print.
Schneider, Jerry L. Invasion of the Body Snatchers Film Locations: Then & Now. New Providence: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform, 2009. Print.