12 October 2011

Guest blogger: Red Pill Junkie

Platillos Volantes

By Red Pill Junkie (a.k.a. Miguel Romero)

Terrassa, Spain, 1972: On the railroad tracks near this industrial Catalonian city, agents of the Civilian Guard make a ghastly discovery – two male bodies, neatly dressed in black suits and white shirts, their heads cleanly severed by the locomotive that rolled over their necks. With no apparent signs of struggle or foul play, the guards suspect some sort of suicide pact, which is later confirmed after they find a handwritten letter in one of the men’s jackets. The note reads:

The Extraterrestrials call us. We belong to the Infinite.

Thus begins the movie Platillos Volantes (Flying Saucers), written and directed in 2003 by Oscar Aibar, starring Jordi Vilches & Angel de Andrés, which tells the story of Juan Turu Vallés & José Félix Rodríguez Montero, two blue-collar workers living in the last years of Franco's regime, joined together in an odd friendship by their passion for – or rather obsession with – interplanetary craft and their yearning to call their benevolent occupants. The men’s friendship ultimately leads them to attempt the ultimate test: discarding their mortal vessels – their bodies – in order to make the trip to Jupiter.

The film is both social commentary on the oppressive atmosphere suffered in Spain after 40 years of the Generalisimo's rule, as well as the dramatization of a true event which signalled a loss of innocence in the public’s enthusiasm for UFOs and the chance they offered us to look up to the stars and dream of a better world. But more than this, Platillos Volantes stands out in the history of cinema because of its rare portrayal of Ufology's ugly bastard son – the Contactist (or “contactee”) movement.

Indeed, the Space Brothers – and the folks who claim to be in contact with them – have never sat well with most UFO researchers, so eager to bring to the field the respectability that will finally grant them the prodigal-son-like welcome into the halls of Academia of which they've always dreamed. They want to focus on the physical traces, the burn marks, the radar signals and the official reports; but messages of universal love sent by Venusians? Nothing but tabloid fodder and New Age freak shows, they complain.

And yet long before the world became amazed by flying saucers and the possibility of interstellar travellers, there were individuals attempting to channel the wisdom of superior intelligences beyond our earthly realm. At the core of every religion is the idea that such communication is not only possible, but worth pursuing. The Contactist movement reminds us that this phenomenon, whatever its true origin and intentions, chooses to appeal to the strong irrational undercurrents of the human psyche. Some people will never care about irrefutable evidence or peer-reviews; they long for something more basic and ancestral: Salvation.

Platillos Volantes could not be further from the typical Hollywood treatment of UFOs. Not only does it not rely on flashy special effects or CGI to carry its story, but, unlike many movies that claim to be based on real cases, the historical events which inspired it are very well documented and its script is largely faithful to the facts. The Ufological accuracy of movie is due at least in part to Iker Jiménez – one of the most prominent Spanish Ufologists today, who was hired by the producers as an on-set consultant. This arrangement, of course, brings to mind Close Encounters of the Third Kind (1977), which benefited from the advice of the late Dr. Hynek, who also made a brief cameo in Spielberg’s movie. Like Hynek, Jiménez also had his chance in front of the camera.

But there are other reasons why the serious Fortean researcher should consider adding Platillos Volantes to their must-see list:

· The Apocalyptic overtones which have always been predominant in the Contactist discourse, along with the belief that only a few 'chosen ones' will be saved from the final holocaust to become modern Elijahs and be transported to the heavens.

· It shows how governments might have a tendency to investigate UFO groups, not necessarily because they fear that the UFO buffs will discover some dark secret protected by alphabet soup organizations, but because often times the political and moral beliefs of the people who are attracted to the mystery of life on other planets would be perceived as 'radical', 'subversive' or down-right 'communist' – especially with the paranoia of the Cold War when an innocent plea for nuclear disarmament would inscribe your name in the black list (not to mention the student protests and union strikes in Spain heralding the winds of change, which were being fiercely repressed by the old guard).

· It details some particular aspects of the Contactist belief system, such as the use of 'automatic writing' as one of the most favored methods to channel the messages of the Space Brothers; as well as the strict ascetic regime which was considered necessary in order not only to keep open the 'channel' with the UFOnauts, but also to induce an actual physical mutation on the Contactees themselves – indulging in simple pleasures like a good salami was strictly forbidden. Such ideas are just the new iteration of the ancient hermetic tradition which seeks enlightenment through abstinence.

· Finally, with the bizarre demise of the two protagonists, it underscores why we should all have heeded Jacques Vallee's warnings detailed in his book Messengers of Deception, which have might averted tragedies such as Heaven's Gate mass suicide – tragedies that are very likely to be repeated during the final countdown to 2012.

If what you seek in a UFO flick is a constant bombardment of CGI effects, humongous explosions à la Michael Bay, and scantly-dressed sexy girls working out their vocal chords during each close-up shot, then you should probably steer clear of this film. However, for the smart movie-goer who is also intrigued by the history of Contactism – and who's not challenged by screen subtitles, as are 99% of the American movie audience – then Platillos Volantes is a film you might want to add to your Amazon Xmas wish list... maybe as a gift to that annoying New Agey cousin of yours who never stops yapping about the Pleiadians and the Brotherhood of Light.

Red Pill Junkie —a.k.a. Miguel Romero— is a 38 year-old interior designer by trade, and student of paranormal phenomena by calling. He's been interested in weird mysteries for as long as he can remember. When he's not searching the web looking for his daily fix of Forteana, he can be found blogging, fooling around, & offering his services as news administrator at The Daily Grail.

His residence in Mexico City will grant him front seats to the return of Quetzalcoatl in 2012 — scalpers willing.


  1. It sounds like a film that's worth watching. The political context, in particular, sounds appealing.

    A quick torrent search only finds a 1956 movie of the same name.

    As for the 'Messengers of Deception' association? It's got to be the main theme of all of this crazy stuff. There's so much deception and self-delusion going on that it's hard trying to keep our compasses true.

    I sometimes wonder if, in part, the phenomena are designed to separate us from consensus reality and leave us adrift in a substitute reality with no anchors or bearings.

    For those who sacrifice their grip on reality, Heaven's Gate and madness can be the reward.

  2. Hi, Kandinsky.

    I'm glad you're interested in watching this film. I am too saddened that it is not more widely available on the net —Calling on Netflix! ;)

    I like your comment about the phenomena choosing to alienate —pardon the pun— certain individuals from the rest of their community. I think part of it is the way our society automatically turns people who are interested in the fringe into outsiders —something that has been alleviated by the infinite niche opportunities the Web has to offer— but it might also be related to the age-old 'path of the Shaman', who has to go into the Wild alone to face the Unknown.

    If the Shaman is successful, the Mystery will consume him utterly, but he will become transformed and imbued by it, allowed to return home and perform his role of conduit with the Beyond.

    Maybe for every Shaman who made it back into the camp, there were countless others who weren't so lucky...

  3. Here's hoping our local independent video rental superstore in the University district has a copy.

  4. Yippie!!! Just checked their online catalog and they do have it.

  5. @ PG - Cool find. If you watch it, please post your thoughts.

    If you're of a piratical bent, upload it as a torrent ;)

  6. I really hope you like the movie purrlgrrl ^_^