Strange lights and sounds, mutilated animals, intriguing rumours, mind games. And for some, the slow descent into madness. If you’re seeking a documentary like no other, Mirage Men should be your port of call at this year’s Sheffield Doc/Fest.
Correctly described as a blend between Close Encounters of the Third Kind and the Manchurian candidate, Mirage Men spins a dark yarn of unexplained phenomena and of belief manipulation by higher powers which will leave you wondering which part of what you’re seeing and hearing is real. And you may never find out.
Indeed, the exploitation and manipulation of popular beliefs around UFOs was an active part of US Air Force and Intelligence services counterintelligence programmes for over 60 years. This resulted in a sticky mille-feuille of false facts and mistrust which makes the topic exceedingly murky; one that is remarkably difficult to document in any sort of reliable manner.
But this intriguing piece of work was achieved methodically and creatively, using a clever blend of old footage, present-day interviews and on-location shots, married by a haunting soundtrack. The team sought out key and often controversial figures at the heart of this thorny debate, all of whom were in some way involved as perpetrators, victims or bystanders of the UFO phenomenon.
As they speak openly on camera about their experiences and actions, the audience watches with growing enthrallment, confusion and faint horror as one by one, members of the public are swept up into a dark and worrying tale.
What should be a simple answer to a simple question quickly turns into a complex patchwork that balances precariously on the border between sanity and madness. The Roswell landings, the Majestic 12 documents and the Serpo expedition, all dizzyingly laced with tales of stealth military development government programs and the underlying chill of the cold war.
Beautifully put together and striving to remain as balanced as can possible under the circumstances, Mirage Men isn’t out to point the finger at UFOlogy or to single out ‘people who believe in little green men’. Instead, it raises more pressing questions about information and media control and exposes not only the sheer power of the mind but the damage that can be caused to society when that power is misused.
Even the most sceptical viewer will start to wonder what, exactly, was going on? What was the government hiding and where? When did the manipulators become victims themselves? Who was at the very root of all this? And why do so many questions remain? The truth is out there… but where?
For more information on the film and its screenings, please check out the doc’s website.