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Chariots of the Gods (1970)

Erinnerungen an die Zukunft (original title)
Documentary based on the book by Erich Von Daniken concerning the ancient mysteries of the world, such as the pyramids of Egypt and Mexico, ancient cave drawings, the monuments of Easter ... See full summary »


(as Dr. Harald Reinl)


, (commentary) (as Wilhelm Roggersdorf) | 1 more credit »

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Nominated for 1 Oscar. See more awards »


Credited cast:
Heinz-Detlev Bock ...
Narrator (voice)
Klaus Kindler ...
Narrator (voice)
Christian Marschall ...
Narrator (voice)
Aleksandr Kazantsev ...
Himself - Moscow Academy of Natural Science
Wiatscheslav Saitsew ...
Himself - Academy of Science, Minsk
Rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Hans Domnick ...
Jean Fontaine ...
Narrator (English version)
Thor Heyerdahl ...
Bruce Johansen ...
Narrator (English version)
Hermann Oberth ...
Lee Pajan ...
Narrator (English version)
Henning Skaarup ...
(Danish narrator)
Erich von Däniken ...


Documentary based on the book by Erich Von Daniken concerning the ancient mysteries of the world, such as the pyramids of Egypt and Mexico, ancient cave drawings, the monuments of Easter Island, etc. and the fact that these things and modern civilization could have been influenced by extra-terrestrial visitations hundreds(or perhaps thousands) of years ago. Written by Humberto Amador

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Based on the best selling book that shattered conventional theories of history and archaeology! See more »




G | See all certifications »




Release Date:

26 April 1970 (West Germany)  »

Also Known As:

Chariots of the Gods  »

Filming Locations:


Box Office


$25,948,300 (USA)

Company Credits

Production Co:

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Sound Mix:



Aspect Ratio:

1.66 : 1
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Did You Know?


Was banned in East Germany one day after its release. See more »


Amongst this film's claims, was that the Nazca Lines were some kind of landing strip or runway system. In actual fact, the ground in the area would be too soft to be a landing strip for any large craft. See more »


Narrator: [On a 40,000 year old bison skull] The beast was alive when killed.
See more »


Referenced in Sam and Max: Chariots of the Dogs (2008) See more »

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User Reviews

Relaxingly Stupid
23 May 2011 | by (New York, USA) – See all my reviews

Seriously, this is easily one of the most lunkheaded, stupid, poorly informed and yet enjoyable "documentaries" ever made. Very relaxing viewing. I read the book as a kid and adore the film as an adult, but please. It is an entertainment, not science, and can be fun provided you're stoned enough. What is so remarkable is that the book + film literally changed and influenced our popular culture in a manner that continues to this day; "Battlestar: Galactica", "Stargate", Jack Kirby's "The Eternals", several post-60s installments of "Star Trek", the list of pop culture forms that harvested Erich Von Daniken's fanciful ramblings goes on & on, and some are quite good.

See, the problem with this film is that it tries to teach its viewers to be lazy observers & simple-Simon thinkers. For example: You see lines scratched on a desert highland which resembles the patterns of an airport viewed from above. To conclude therefore that the lines *must* be the remnants of an ancient airport to the exclusion of all other possible conclusions just because that's what it looks like suggests a grave limitation in comparative reasoning.

It also presumes that ancient alien astronauts would need an airport to land their space ships with extended diagonal runways stretching across the desert soil as far as the eyes can see. That means you are limiting the technology available to the aliens to that which would require an airport -- You are creating a foregone conclusion with only one possible explanation fitting the lazily observed data. Von Daniken even says in his book that it cannot possibly be anything else. Oh really?

Which is the basis of all conspiratorial reasoning. You conclude beforehand that the building was blown up by a controlled demolition and then you cherry pick only those clues which support that conclusion & jettison those which suggest anything else. Need spaceships? Look for depictions of angels in flight. Need space suited aliens? Any cave drawing with a stylized human figure will do, the more sloppily executed the better. Just make sure it's enigmatic enough to defy a literal interpretation and you're home free. Anything can be the result of contact with ancient alien astronauts once you let your mind wander far enough afield.

Then you start churning through the funny looking cultural artifacts, the bizarre statuettes and other cultural forms which do not resemble classically executed images of representation we are accustomed to. Bulbous head? Space alien. Stringy looking arms? Space alien. Seated or crouched position? Space alien. Non-human head attached to stylized form? Space alien. Imprecise written account from historical documents? Space alien. One would think we were passive observers in our own pre-history. I am sure the Mayans would have been amused to learn that their gods required oxygen helmets.

Then you muddle it all down with doublethink employing terms that sound scientific & reasonable, peppered with a tad of ridicule to put anyone who won't go along with your conclusion on the outside. Now it's you & a select few against the world with your secret insights and private knowledge. Everybody else becomes a bumpkin for following the "mainstream" thinking, which is usually remarkably boring in comparison to the idea of space aliens sweeping down from the heavens to teach our ancestors how to levitate railroad car sized blocks of stone. And then you pose these conclusions in the form of "questions" so that you can deny being dumb enough to have said so. You were just asking questions ... sound familiar?

But it's a fascinating movie with superb music, made by German film craftsman Harald Reinl with a visual power that is difficult to deny. One aspect of which is capturing the ancient monuments on film as they appeared in the late 1960s, before most of them were restored to their present day tourist-friendly look complete with snack stands & souvenir shops. You can really get a feel for how those Mayan cities were swallowed by the jungle, and what a jumbled mess Easter Island was before we figured out what the deal was with the statues, how they were supposed to be lined up, who made them, and why they probably did it. If the film served a useful purpose it may have been to inspire a generation or three of young scientists to figure out some of the riddles being posed.

For that matter the film represents a more innocent era for modern man, when we could gaze at mysteries like the Easter Island statues and just marvel at them in awe. Nowadays Easter Island speaks for a tragedy where a whole people were wiped out by outside invasion, famine, and eventually disease spread by contact with the Western world. Kind of a bummer compared to heroic alien cosmonauts descending in their rocket ships to immortalize themselves in stone for us to ponder over so many eons later.

If only it were. Also were I to criticize the film stylistically it is for being too one-sided. There's no voice of "the other" suggesting any contrary conclusions just like all good conspiracy theory entertainments. After all, that would distract from the stunning conclusions that all of our pre-history was shaped by contact with space aliens, since those blocks of stone are too big for even a modern day crane to move, etc etc etc. It's a marvelously stacked deck, though just as long as you are aware of that going in it can be fun to follow along at home. Just don't take any of it too seriously, the photography is great, enjoy the music, and pass the munchies dude.


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