Chariots of the Gods Blu-ray Review: Before Ancient  Aliens…

Before Ancient Aliens there was Chariots of the Gods (1970) by Erich Von Daniken. VCI Entertainment proudly presents the 50th Anniversary Blu-ray Edition of the 1970 documentary type movie that explores some of the ideas put forth in his book of the same name published in 1968. 

When Erich Von Daniken wrote his books in the late 1960s, it was believed that humankind would land on Mars and Venus within a century. Von Daniken mused over how we would be welcome on other planets, “As enemies or as gods?” He also wondered how some ancient descriptions of Earth from above and a map hundreds of years old could be so accurate when modern humans had only just reached those heights?

Chariots of the Gods takes us on a journey around the globe, from China to South America, to learn more about cultures where there have long existed tales of star people visiting the planet to create or assist the people in their advancement. The movie explores pyramids and stone works and takes viewers to different museums for a closer look at religious texts and artifacts left behind by civilizations long gone. Referencing ancient works such as Gilgamesh and the Book of Genesis, with their tales about beings that are part man/part god and wondering if that’s proof alien life walked among us and created us in their image?

Ancient texts also mention space chariots conveying gods to Earth as they handed down instructions and warnings. Was an atomic bomb described in the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah? When the Arc of the Covenant was recreated by college students, it was so dangerously charged with several thousand volts of electricity that it had to be destroyed immediately. Was the Bible actually speaking of an alien technology when depicting this super space weapon capable of mass destruction? Was the research of those college kids hushed by the government? That last bit I added myself, for giggles. 

Seriously though, the world laughed at Heinrich Schliemann for believing tales of The Iliad were true until he actually found the city of Troy. If Troy wasn’t merely legend, could other ancient tales from varied archaic texts have some semblance of truth to them as well? What of all those texts destroyed by non-believers and lost to time? Could they too have held secrets of our true origin here on Earth? 

Those are only some of the questions presented in Chariots of the Gods, an entertaining and thought-provoking 92 minutes. Chariots of the Gods is fun and a bit one-sided at times, but it does make one think. Many of the questions posed here are not new to us now, having heard them many times since, but back in ‘68 and ‘70 these things were mind blowing. Chariots opens people’s eyes to the deeper questions left behind in our sacred texts and the possibility that perhaps man is truly not alone in the universe, let alone on what we believe to be our home planet. Chariots of the Gods wasn’t meant to answer these questions, only to make one think of their possibilities. 

Something I noted and found very humorous is that in the opening credits it states that the movie is based on Von Daniken’s “novels.” An interesting word choice for sure but his book also comes with a disclaimer in the front in small print that reads “a work of fiction.” Very interesting indeed and more thought-provoking as one contemplates conspiracy theories, government cover-ups, and dismissals of the truth when it’s presented to us. Or it could be the publishers covering their behinds for legal reasons? The rabbit holes are there should one choose to tumble down a few. 

There’s also a straight-out unintentionally funny scene, at least I assume it was unintentional. The scene is of primitive South Pacific Islanders who began to make bamboo aircraft during World War II after seeing airplanes for the first time. These “South Pacific” islanders look like something from a 1930s safari movie! Complete with bad wigs and fake animal hides for clothes. It was a true WTF moment and I had to rewatch so I could catch what I missed due to my laughter and surprise at this outrageous sight. Makes one wonder at what the actual hell the production crew was thinking here and what decades did they themselves miss in movie evolution?

The bonus full-length documentary Mysteries of the Gods continues the quest to question the ancient past but isn’t nearly as good as Chariots. Much of the footage is reused from the previous film, understandable in some places but simply lazy in others. Mysteries also gets gimmicky as it recreates certain experiments on camera but only gives a select view then cuts away expecting us to believe the results without actually seeing them happen. It’s also even more one-sided as it presents scenarios while ignoring any background info and completely overlooking obvious possibilities like armor plating instead of a space suit. 

Chariots of the Gods isn’t as kooky as one would think and is clearly the inspiration for modern Ancient Aliens theories and TV shows. Keep an open mind while viewing Erich Von Daniken’s Chariots of the Gods as it puts forth some interesting questions. Could any of it be true? Could it all be true? Who knows? But it’s fun stuff to kick around on a dark, star-filled night as you keep your eyes to the skies, pondering questions of why. 

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Joe Garcia III

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