[Originally published in Movietone News 64-65, March 1980]
One of the most affecting moments in Philip Kaufmanâ€™s Invasion of the Body Snatchers was the swamping of the soundtrack with an amplified-bagpipe version of â€œAmazing Graceâ€ as the remaining human searched the night world for a means of escape. The cargo ship whose radio is the source of the music turns out to be loading up with pods, and as the hero sees this and the door is shut on his hopes of a getaway, the radio dial is turned from â€œGraceâ€ to a newscasterâ€™s flat voice. This scene is dramatically different from the counterpart sequence in Don Siegelâ€™s original Body Snatchers: there the hero heard some Spanish singing, had his hopes raised that he was among feeling humans again, excitedly climbed over a hill to meet themâ€”and discovered simultaneously that these are pod people and that thatâ€™s only a radio, not a woman singing, as the station is abruptly changed. The difference between the two versions is that Kaufman does not pretend that the music is anything but artificial, while Siegel surehandedly goes after the shock we feel when the station is switched; Kaufman seems interested in the mythic proportions of the music itself (the lyrics of the hymn, not sung but surely known by 75 percent of the audience, comment suggestively on the organized, sheeplike groups of pods: â€œI once was lost, but now Iâ€™m foundâ€”was blind, but now I seeâ€), especially as they are set against the tiny visual representation of the hero. All of which finally comes around to the observation that this guy Kaufman can put music and images together real well, and that his latest film, The Wanderers, displays this talent for much of its running time.