Oct.4 and Dec.26 the Strieber family drives from NYC to their cabin in the woods. Both nights there are some powerful lights outside and maybe aliens. The dad is mentally affected by the "bad dream", goes to the shrink and is hypnotized.
Whitley Strieber goes with his family and some friends to his holiday home in the forest. They experience some weird occurances, are they UFO activity? Whitley is abducted and then faces a horrible dilema; was I abducted or am I going mad? He sees a psychiatrist who tries to use hypnotic regression to discover the truth.Written by
Matthew Stanfield <email@example.com>
Director Philippe Mora had originally met author Strieber in London in the late 1960's. After Mora made his film Death of a Soldier (1986) in the 1980's, he ran into Strieber again. They got to talking and Strieber mentioned his recent experiences. Mora told Strieber that if he got around to writing about them, to let him know. See more »
As Whitley opens the closet to find the teddy bear he opens the right closet door. When filmed from the inside, both doors are open and he then proceeds to close the left door. See more »
An alternate version of Communion (1989) is shown on FOX network television (USA). The alternate version has extra or extended scenes (compared to the theatrical/cable/video version) as follows:
When Whitley (Christopher Walken) visits Dr. Freidman (Basil Hoffman), he describes the visitors while watching a salamander frolic in the physician's aquarium.
When Whitley's Russian friend Alex (Andreas Katsulas) finds Whitley in the diner, he tells Whitley that as a child in his native country he heard stories of small beings who lived in the mines, called Kobolds. He tells Whitley he believes these stories are true;
On the "ship," Whitley dances with the Little Blue Doctors after they exchange greetings (immediately before the "magic show");
Upon the roof of their apartment building, the stars in the sky do NOT momentarily appear to resemble the face of a visitor, as they do in the theatrical/cabletv/video version;
The end credits roll over a night time aerial shot of the Strieber family standing on the shore with New York City behind them.
In "Communion," Whitley Strieber's autobiographical book comes to life...sort of. Viewing this movie is a strange experience, and certainly not for all tastes. It is a very cerebral piece of work from a director who did not wholeheartedly agree with Strieber's interpretation of the events surrounding his so-called abduction. Phillipe Mora makes an effort to give the film an air of surrealism, right down to even having the blatant symbolism of DeChirico paintings on the walls of Strieber's home (whether or not Strieber actually had such paintings is beside the point). The director tries to give the impression that Strieber is suffering a breakdown while simultaneously trying to present the events without too much distortion. Tough task...it's easy to see why the film seems diluted and without chemistry.
However, this also provides the film with an atmosphere that can also help enhance the whole point, which is not "was Whitley Strieber abducted by aliens," but rather "how did Whitley's interpretation of an inexplicable event effect him and those around him?" One of the last scenes, an exchange between Strieber and his wife in a museum, conveys this point perfectly. "It's just God, masks of God." It can be equated with a religious experience, feeling the touch of God. Strieber FELT the touch of an outside presence. Does that mean he was visited by aliens? This is irrelevant, and I firmly believe that this is what the point of the film should be. And let's face it, the film is called "Communion," which means "to be at one with God."
The mechanics of the film are rather well constructed. Christopher Walken is in fine form as Strieber, giving a wonderful portrayal of a writer on the edge (of a discovery or his sanity?). Lindsay Crouse does a good job as Strieber's wife. The acting is slightly flat in some areas, but this might've been another device of Mora's to add to the surrealism. Constant uses of the New York skyline add a sense of foreboding to the film, not just because of the beauty of these scenes, but because it helps give the impression of an outside presence. The music (with Eric Clapton on guitar) is pretty good, typical of the synthesizer-based scores of most '80's movies, but it adds well to the setting. And even though the special effects may seem laughable, Mora has made the case (perhaps pretentiously) that this was also deliberate. The FOX TV version (which seems to be the version being shown on Showtime Digital Cable) adds several sequences, and increases the light contrast in certain scenes, adding a glowing white haze to many scenes. Some have complained about the scene in the psychiatrist's office being so bright, but I think it also helps get the message that there may be an outside presence surrounding all of us, whether we recognize it or not.
"Communion" is an interesting movie that suffered from a view that was perhaps too short-sighted. If the film were made today, one can be sure the message might have been lost on overbloated special effects, and the surreal effect would've been diminished to appeal to the lowest common denominator of movie-going audiences. No matter what your stance on alien abduction, this is a very thought-provoking film. Give it a chance...watch it.
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