In the early 90s, before the days when reality TV “documentaries” took over, I was an avid watcher of the Discovery Channel. One day, I saw a promo for this film:
At the time, I was somewhat obsessed with stories of alien abduction tales as told by Whitley Strieber, Betty and Barney Hill, and Budd Hopkins. Which is to say, stories in which people were taken out of their cars or their homes late at night in the middle of nowhere and subjected to inhumane experiments by ugly, bug-eyed aliens. Then I saw this movie, which told the tales of the Contactees, who turned the notion of “aliens” into “space brothers.” Beautiful, angelic humans here to save us from our own excesses. Here is the description of the film, from the production company’s website:
Farewell Good Brothers is an off-beat, irreverent and often hilarious portrait of a few people who, back in the 1950′s, claimed to have been contacted friendly visitors from the planet Venus. Theirs is a world of mysterious government conspiracies, strange religious rites and unbelievable close encounters; a world inhabited by an assortment of charlatans, true believers, Christian fundamentalists, and messianic cults. Through contemporary interviews and a wide assortment of unusual archival imagery, the film examines the role of these so-called ‘Contactees’ in pioneering much of contemporary Flying Saucer mythology. With it’s emphasis on the political and religious motivations of these people and it’s visual depiction of their beliefs, FAREWELL, GOOD BROTHERS is unique in both style and content.
I missed the movie on Discovery, but tracked down a VHS copy (Ah, VHS, remember those days?) and wore it out watching it over and over.
Farewell, Good Brothers is definitely “off-beat”, as it says. The interviews are golden, and well worth a watch. Howard Menger’s story, specifically, is what drew me into this subject. In his interviews, he comes off as a cantankerous, rebellious old man who spouts his message of peace and love in the same tone he’d tell them kids to get off his yard. If you read his book, From Outer Space to You, you’ll see the young version of that same disconnect: a humble and meek narrator that nevertheless manages to brag about his war heroism and inventiveness.
|Peace and love in action.|
Also worth watching are Dan Fry almost literally telling the director to get off his lawn and leave him alone.
For all its merit, this film never quite satisfied me. The tone of the film is lightly comedic, which is perfect for what it is–an introduction to a subject most people these days have never heard of. It never quite mocks the Contactees, but it never quite takes them seriously, either. It’s sort of a “submitted for your approval” with a cocked eyebrow. While I appreciate that tone, the content of the film made me want to know more.
And so down the rabbit hole I went. And while down there, I discovered some further things about FGB that make it incomplete. Robert Stone, the director, focused on living Contactees (Robert Short, Daniel Fry, George King, Howard Menger, and a few others) and their stories. And these stories are fascinating and wonderful. But in doing so, he missed out on George Van Tassel and George Adamski, two of the biggest names in Contacteedom.
To me, that is like making a movie about the history of rock and roll and not mentioning Elvis or the Beatles. Sure, you can still get a sense of the subject, but the picture is incomplete. Mr. Stone had an advantage on me in the form of a 23 year head start; of the original Contactees he interviewed, only Robert Short is still with us. (I also was able to interview Mr. Short, and it was an amazing experience, to say the least). Howard Menger died only weeks before I embarked on this project.
So in making this film, I decided to turn what could easily be a weakness–the lack of first-hand interviews–into a strength. Because I’m not relying solely on those interviews, I am free to examine the accounts of Adamski and Van Tassel, among others. In using original audio from these people, as well as animation and visual effects, I can tell their stories to fill in the blanks left by Farewell, Good Brothers.
If you get a chance, see this film. (And mine, too, when it gets finished). There is an updated version available, with new music and remastered in HD. For your consideration, however, here is the original version as presented on Youtube.