Mirage Men has all the right ingredients for a riveting, modern-day conspiracy flick: ET visitors, flying saucers, flashing lights, and UFO crash sites – even unexplained cattle mutilation. True to Mark Pilkington’s book published in 2010, the British-made documentary is thought-provoking, unsettling, and perhaps even downright scary – but not because of the possible existence of extraterrestrial life or any of the aforementioned elements. Directed by John Lundberg (known for his acclaimed work regarding related ostension), Mirage Men tells the twisted and tangled story of how the US Government created a myth that took over the world.
We are first introduced to former Special Agent Richard Doty, a recurring face throughout several stories in the film, who became a key player in one of the most questionable espionage campaigns in the last 50 years. Doty was assigned by the US Air Force to deal with the overly-curious Paul Bennewitz, a local UFO enthusiast and scientific entrepreneur who happened upon transmissions and other strange events at Kirtland Air Force Base in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Doty’s job was to not only confirm Bennewitz’s pre-existing suspicions of UFO rumors, but also to professionally and deliberately implant additional UFO rumors and delusions into the conspiracy underground to throw him, as well as other civilians, off the trail of “genuine top secret military projects.”
But what were they trying to cover up that was so important to deliberately confirm the suspicions of UFO activity in the area? Instead of ordering Bennewitz to cease his observations, he was premeditatedly encouraged to continue facilitating growing delusions about an extraterrestrial invasion. The underlying tone of creepiness in this documentary lies in the elaborate level and care the government took to fabricate a story that was incredibly detailed, even driving Bennewitz to legitimate insanity.
Mirage Men does not fuel our minds with facts that suggest alien life might exist, such as the three hundred billion stars suspended in our galaxy or the overwhelming and growing fraction of those stars that contain planets in their sun’s habitable zone, but instead leads us down the government conspiracy rabbit hole. The story is more complex than the idea of using mythology to cover up advanced military technology. “It deals with paradox, the nature of truth, how we know what we know about the world around us and the effect stories,” Lundberg quotes. The documentary stays true to Lundberg’s specialty, exploring how “myth and artifice can shape and alter reality.”
Truly absorbing, Mirage Men contains well-paced and researched presentations, appropriate music and visual backgrounds, including captivating time-lapse imagery of the vast Albuquerque landscapes. While the documentary lacks referenced photos, videos, or documents, it shines as one of the great mysteries of our generation undoubtedly leaving as many questions answered as the amount of stories untold, allowing us to draw our own thoughts and conclusions.
Are Doty and friends still doing the job they were hired to do 40 years later? Perhaps Mirage Men itself could be a hoax? Are “genuine top secret military projects” including Cold War counterintelligence arsenal and advanced military technology what is and what was being hidden all along, or is it something of greater importance?
As Scully and Mulder would say, the truth is out there.
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Mirage Men will be available to stream on Thursday, March 27, 2014 on YEKRA.com. It was directed by John Lundberg, Roland Denning, and Kypros Kyprianou, with a run time of 85 minutes. This film has not been rated.
Watch the trailer here: