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DIRECTED BY: Scott Bateman
FEATURING: 5,000 individuals, new and old
COMMENTS: Before diving into a brief review, let me say that this is one of the coolest things I’ve seen this year.
Now, removing my fanboy hat, let me don my critical reviewer cap. Expanding on his 600 Space Aliens short from 2016, Scott Batemen enters “feature length” territory with this barrage of rotoscoped, scrapbooked, distorted, pigmented, animated images of 5,000 individuals[efn_note]If he keeps up this pace, I look forward to 40000 Space Aliens in about five years’ time.[/efn_note]. According to the brief introduction, all entities on display have been determined to be “space aliens” according to the “Space Alien Commission” (which receives a special thank-you in the closing credits). Bateman advises us to “[w]atch carefully. Memorize all 5000 space aliens. After viewing, please dispose of this film by eating it.”
The introduction’s playful tone is maintained throughout the eighty-three-and-a-half minute run-time. (For our “physical and mental safety, each alien is shown for only one second.”) Each clip is altered in one way or another, sometimes simply (blurry black-and-white), sometimes elaborately (intricate underlays behind a stylized rotoscoping of the “alien” in the foreground). Random textual blurbs are scattered throughout in the form of three-to-six word phrases cropping up somewhere on the screen (a couple of my favorites being, “give thanks to our fetishes” and “science brain parts”). A pulsing, power-pop synth score composed by the filmmaker drives the whole shebang, making 5000 Space Aliens an absolute must for your post-COVID art-dance house party.
Of the dozens (hundreds?) of word blasts, the most pertinent may be “text book on embalming.” I feel it distills the nature of this smilingly cryptic project. The torrent of humanity and movement Bateman captured is hypnotic; it isn’t often that I happily sit through over an hour of random images. The effect was pleasantly disorienting, so much so that when an un-doctored image of a young woman appeared, I was seriously thrown for a loop. (Mind you, the solid blocks of vermilion red streaming up from her coffee mug were probably added in post-production).
And on the topic of post-production, I shudder to think how long that took Scott (mind if I call you “Scott”?) to compile this. Every single second is bursting with life from his augmentations, be it kinetic line-o-grams or the overtly Gilliam-esque animations utilizing black-and-white photographs of older “space aliens.” The second thank-you in the credits went to his cowdfunding backers, and with my brain joyfully glazed over by his efforts, I wish I could have helped him out myself. When you next have five-thousand seconds to kill, I advise you take up the challenge of observing and memorizing this barrage of
human space-alien cinematographical wonderment.
5,000 Space Aliens – Official website providing plenty of information (screening times, contact links, “About the Filmmakers”, etc.) as well as a sample from the soundtrack
2 thoughts on “366 UNDERGROUND: 5000 SPACE ALIENS (2021)”
Currently it looks like the only way to watch this is through the 2021 Oxford Virtual Film Festival:
$10, plus it looks like you can access 7 additional shorts. Through April. We’ll update this post when it’s available elsewhere.
It now streams online at BEEM: