Hugo Santiago’s Invasion from 1969 reminds me of so many things, but it’s all its own. I watched this mostly because it was written by Borges. As I was watching I started thinking how much it reminded me of The Spider Strategem (the title of which is listed in the possessive on IMDb, but I always heard and read it the other way). I looked that film up, which I probably haven’t seen since about 2004, and lo and behold, that was also written by Borges!
Then I thought how much Raul Ruiz reminded me of Hugo Santiago. Well, after some quick internet research, lo and behold, Santiago and Ruiz worked together. These frames are some of the reasons why I see that resemblance:
Like Ruiz, Santiago isn’t afraid of a looming foreground (shot 3), anonymous shots (shot 2), and wides that feel frozen and almost stagey (shot 1).
Much of the same is true here. I love how dramatic the framing is, but also how intentional it is. Great cinematography from Ricardo Aronovich, too:
Is there a Santiago/Godard connection? Because this film also reminds me of Alphaville. Maybe that’s just because Herrera (Lautaro Murúa) looks a little like Eddie Constantine.
Is there a Santiago/Suzuki connection? Because this film also reminds me of Branded to Kill. Maybe that’s because of the production design (i.e. checkered floors) and the men in white versus the men in black, all dressed in suits.
I wonder if Thomas Pynchon is influenced by Invasion. Because there seems to be a lot of that swirling conspiracy that Pynchon likes (or maybe, and more likely, Pynchon is just influenced by Borges).
Anyway, this film is amazing. If Miller’s Crossing is about men with hats, this is about footsteps. Footsteps just echo everywhere, on every surface, and coming from every type of footwear. They clatter around and add to this beautiful feeling of confusion.
There’s much great camerawork in Invasion. I particularly like this short sequence:
As Irene (Olga Zubarry) enters we pull back with her. The first man that crosses frame brings the camera with him, which continues its dolly back and now also pans left. He brings us to another man (at 0:17), whose crisp movement continues the frame. It’s so well-timed. Then we come back to Irene’s over-the-shoulder at 0:20. Like the footsteps we’re surrounded here. There’s confusion everywhere. Anyone and everyone is a suspect. The motivated blocking emphasizes this. Those characters are minor but we don’t know that.