Subject: I have found a DVD that I think you would enjoy
|Chariots of the Gods|
Actors: Heinz-Detlev Bock, Klaus Kindler, Christian Marschall, Hans Domnick, Thor Heyerdahl
Director: Harald Reinl
Genres: Indie & Art House, Special Interests, Documentary
"Fifty million stars in our galaxy have the potential of supporting life forms capable of traveling to other planets," says world-renowned authority Erich von Daniken, whose film version of his best- selling book, CHARI... more »
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Fun, but horribly wrong
John | Houston, TX | 04/20/2001
(2 out of 5 stars)
"Von Däniken claims that the myths, arts, social organizations, etc., of ancient cultures were introduced by astronauts from another world. He questions not just the capacity for memory, but the capacity for culture and civilization itself, in ancient peoples. Prehistoric humans did not develop their own arts and technologies, but rather were taught art and science by visitors from outer space.Where is the proof for von Däniken's claims? Some of it was fraudulent. For example, he produced photographs of pottery that he claimed had been found in an archaeological dig. The pottery depicts flying saucers and was said to have been dated from Biblical times. However, investigators from Nova (the fine public-television science program) found the potter who had made the allegedly ancient pots. They confronted von Däniken with evidence of his fraud. His reply was that his deception was justified because some people would only believe if they saw proof ("The Case of the Ancient Astronauts," first aired 3/8/78, done in conjunction with BBC's Horizon and Peter Spry-Leverton)! However, most of von Däniken's evidence is in the form of specious and fallacious arguments. His data consists mainly of archaeological sites and ancient myths. He begins with the ancient astronaut assumption and then forces all data to fit the idea. For example, in Nazca, Peru, he explains giant animal drawings in the desert as an ancient alien airport. The fact that the lines of the drawing would be useless as a runway for any real aircraft because of their narrowness is conveniently ignored by von Däniken. The likelihood that these drawings related to the natives' science or mythology is not considered. He also frequently reverts to false dilemma reasoning of the following type: "Either this data is to be explained by assuming these primitive idiots did this themselves or we must accept the more plausible notion that they got help from extremely advanced peoples who must have come from other planets where such technologies as anti-gravity devices had been invented." His devotion to this theory has not dwindled, despite contrary evidence, as is evidenced by still another book on the subject, Arrival of the Gods : Revealing the Alien Landing Sites at Nazca (1998).There have been many critics of von Däniken's notions, but Ronald Story stands out as the most thorough. Most critics of von Däniken's theory point out that prehistoric peoples were not the helpless, incompetent, forgetful savages he makes them out to be. (They must have at least been intelligent enough to understand the language and teachings of their celestial instructors--no small feat!) It is true that we still do not know how the ancients accomplished some of their more astounding physical and technological feats. We still wonder how the ancient Egyptians raised giant obelisks in the desert and how stone age men and women moved huge cut stones and placed them in position in dolmens and passage graves. We are amazed by the giant carved heads on Easter Island and wonder why they were done, who did them, and why they abandoned the place. We may someday have the answers to our questions, but they are most likely to come from scientific investigation not pseudoscientific speculation. For example, observing contemporary stone age peoples in Papua New Guinea, where huge stones are still found on top of tombs, has taught us how the ancients may have accomplished the same thing with little more than ropes of organic material, wooden levers and shovels, a little ingenuity and a good deal of human strength. We have no reason to believe our ancient ancestors' memories were so much worse than our own that they could not remember these alien visitations well enough to preserve an accurate account of them. There is little evidence to support the notion that ancient myths and religious stories are the distorted and imperfect recollection of ancient astronauts recorded by ancient priests. The evidence to the contrary--that prehistoric or 'primitive' peoples were (and are) quite intelligent and resourceful--is overwhelming. Of course, it is possible that visitors from outer space did land on earth a few thousand years ago and communicate with our ancestors. But it seems more likely that prehistoric peoples themselves were responsible for their own art, technology and culture. Why concoct such an explanation as von Däniken's? To do so may increase the mystery and romance of one's theory, but it also makes it less reasonable, especially when one's theory seems inconsistent with what we already know about the world. The ancient astronaut hypothesis is unnecessary. Occam's razor should be applied and the hypothesis rejected."
Entertaining, yet he jumps to conclusions too easily
Plaque | 07/24/2002
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I read Chariots of the Gods as well as several other Von Daniken works, and he never ceases to entertain me (with the exception of Miracles of the Gods - a horrid, poorly executed book). I find his "theories" thought-provoking, yet very weak at their base. Mr. Von Daniken has an irritating habit of jumping from subject to subject, stating his opinions quickly and with little supporting evidence, and then suddenly switching to another "mystery" to start the cycle over again. Even though he makes many compelling points, he never stays on the same subject long enough to fully support his beliefs. If a golden amulet looks like a modern airplane, then it's an airplane. Period. If a stone carving looks like an astronaut, then it's an astronaut. Period. If a straight line drawn in the sand extends for the length of a modern runway, then it's a runway. Period. And this same style has gone on and on for years and through several books, with more on the way.I take everything he says with a grain of salt. He is sooo quick to jump to (seemingly) reasonable conclusions that I can't help but be intrigued... but obviously I can't even call that he does "theorizing" since he never spends enough time on one piece of evidence to complete his arguments. I look at his work as a starting point, rather than a finished product. If someone takes one of his ideas and runs with it, gathering collaborating evidence and building a more air-tight case for the "solution" presented in his works, then in my opinion Von Daniken has done his job. Unfortunately, I can't be sure Von Daniken shares this opinion. I think he raises important questions, yet his answers are too quick off the mark and ultimately unsatisfying to the discriminating reader. I much prefer the approach taken by Graham Hancock, for example, who normally stays much more conservative. Hancock presents compelling arguments supported by many different pieces of evidence, and will not insult the reader by leaping to his conclusions based upon a single painting or pottery shard. Anyone interested in "alternative" (for lack of a better word) history would do well to pick up Hancock's "Fingerprints of the Gods" for a better-realized examination of ancient mysteries.I still find Von Daniken immensely entertaining, though. Call it a guilty pleasure. I would never be able to defend his ideas during an in-depth discussion of them, and I honestly don't believe Von Daniken would be able to either. I give this book 5 stars for being a lot of FUN and a closet masterpiece."
There Can be LOTS of Other Explanations!
Marney E. Mason | Galveston, Texas United States | 08/17/2000
(2 out of 5 stars)
"This is a worthwhile book to read. The author did some pretty good collecting, and his theories are tantalizing, to say the least. It is a shame that he had to repeatedly ruin some good information with the single phrase "There can be no other explanation." He repeated this phrase throughout the book. Each time I saw it, I cringed. This phrase tries to cut off debate, stifles analysis, and generally hurts the credibility of the entire work.When people are so convinced of their own position that they try to suppress any information to the contrary (even rhetorically), they are degenerating to the level of the "Thought Police" - or worse.Sorry Herr von Daniken, you blew it."
A Real Gem and Fun to Watch!
RRskaReb | Florida | 04/12/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)
"A film that makes you go 'Hmmmm'.
I first saw Chariots of the Gods in a theater as a kid when it was re-released back in the mid Seventies. I remember having trouble going to sleep that night! Since then I have attained a degree in science, and still think that it has much merit.
Sadly, this is a film that few people seem to be able to see anymore, at least I haven't noticed it making the rounds on mainstream television or cable in the last twenty five years or so.
The transfer was excellent and made from a well-preserved print. I noticed few flaws in this thirty-five or so year old film. There is an extra of pictures, but there are only like eight pictures? Why bother? That part was like a carnival sideshow ripoff. Also, the bio on von Daniken is a short text of one page and was not informative at all. There are scene selections and true to their word a movie trailer.
The film is an interesting whirlwind of exotic location shots that if nothing else shows the viewer some very interesting sites. The musical score is hard to describe-in a sense it is eerie, but it also has an overall upbeat, 'hopeful' or optimistic tone. I get the impression that this film was not made originally in English? I do like the narrator's (male) voice and keeps your attention. There are also a few places where the narration is handled in an interesting manner. Also, the actual filming and editing was excellent and well thought out. It's as if there is a new surprise awaiting you around every corner.
The documentary also includes some support from a couple of other individuals, one of whom was a Soviet scientist and I found this to be rather interesting given the times. But I feel that von Daniken's arguments supported by the visual evidence were more than compelling on their own.
I can't help but to compare this film to a Nova episode that dealt specifically with von Daniken's book and thus many of the things in this film. A few things, at least in the book, were shown to be out and out fabrications. I seem to remember Nova trying to provide an alternative explanation for such things as (don't quote me...been many years) the 'Baghdad Batteries'. Since then I have seen these batteries presented as being exactly as what they appear to be by science-ancient batteries.
In fact, it seemed that the makers of the Nova film were in an Okham's Razor competition with von Daniken in trying to provide rational, simple explanations for rather exceptional ancient works of art, stories and artifacts. I think it was mostly a tie. 'We' still don't know how or why the Pyramids, nor Stonehenge, the Nazca Lines nor many many other things were built in ancient times. Shame on von Daniken for not giving our ancient ancestors very much credit for coming up with these technologies themselves, but the same can be said for mainstream science which seems to be more and more in the position that ancient peoples were more advanced than we thought and much earlier in time than previously thought.
However, traces of nicotine in Egyptian mummies and a bronze (brass?) computer from an ancient shipwreck does not jive with what mainstream social and natural scientists traditionally present as 'fact' (dangerous word there at any rate). My point is that mainstream science has had to (as science is supposed to) back down and rewrite its theories as new data and explanations come to light. So mainstream science does not have an absolute corner on the truth market and what was poo-pooed in the past as nonsense and fantasy has many times gained acceptance (the existence of ball lightning comes to mind).
It would have made a very interesting DVD package if they had included the Nova episode for a few bucks more as this episode is largely forgotten and is collecting dust somewhere.
von Daniken did not say that every single headdress or ceremonial garb were based on ancient astronaut space suits, but what he does present are artworks of things that still look like space suits and advanced controls no matter how much these things are relegated to the mystical fantasies of ancient artists by mainstream scientists. Interestingly, it is only in the context of modern technology and science as he points out that many of von Daniken's suppositions even begin to make sense! For instance, why does an ancient Mayan observatory look like a modern observatory? What is the purpose of that if they indeed had no telescopes?
All in all, I think von Daniken's explanations are at least as good as any offered by conservative science. A powerful, imaginative presentation that actually enriches one's view of our ancient ancestors and does not denigrate their capabilities at all. These hypotheses actually add a new dimension of wonder and excitement to our collective past.
I definitely plan to watch this over and over again. It is a superior documentary in that it is not inundated with talking head PhD s or self-styled experts and allows the viewer's mind/imagination to decide the validity of what he is seeing with only suggestions on the part of the writer.
It is refreshing to see a film that still makes you go 'hmmmm' even after all these years."