Shades Of Gray
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(Jun 15, 2010)
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Gray Barker stood at the heart of America's UFO phenomenon almost from its inception. His investigations led to the publication of his best selling book, “They Knew Too Much About Flying Saucers.” SHADES OF GRAY peels the layers away of one of the great American hoaxers of the twentieth century. Barker single-handedly created or perpetuated much of what is now the `gospel` of UFOs. This documentary strives to present a complete picture of a complicated, and ultimately influential, modern American myth-maker.
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This film attempts sort out the truth behind this weird, but brilliant, man and does a fine job. As indicated, hardcore believers won't like it because it exposes much of his charade; however it's a must watch piece of work for anyone who really wants to understand the UFO phenomena.
I think this documentary gives Barker an honest assessment; not overly critical. It's honest, but warm and humorous. And it generally gives Barker credit where credit is due. I was surprised at the pleasant comment from Stanton Friedman. The two things I deducted a star for were that 1.> I wish it had been longer and a little more biographical, and 2.> I wish they had spent a little more screen time with Jim Mosely, who as his "partner in crime" was one of the people that knew him best and, I think, could have given us a little more insight. I don't know. Anyway, I really appreciate the makers for the effort they've put into this on one of the more fascinating characters in UFOlogy; one, that it seems, time is forgetting.
My only complaint is the presentation. It is in standard 4:3 mode. I wouldn't complain (much) about this except that it is *shot* in 16:9 mode and presented in letterbox format! So you basically have black bars on top and bottom and both sides if you're watching on a widescreen TV. Now of course with most TVs you could zoom the picture to fill the screen but the producers occasionally use the bottom black bar for a caption! There might be some logic to all this but it escapes me. I deducted a star from my rating for this alone.
This is an excellent documentary but it does assume a fairly broad acquaintance with the UFO subculture and its history. The emphasis is on Barker's impact on the UFO field and less so on his personal life. This is just the reverse from a previous documentary "Whispers from Space".
The present DVD has much higher production values. "Whispers" is a VHS tape transferred (rather amateurishly) to DVD. Both can be recommended and indeed should be required viewing for anyone with an interest in the field. "Shades" features many of the same people as "Whispers" and it is interesting to see the effect of the dozen or so years between the production of the two documentaries on these folks.
Highly recommended in spite of the presentation snafu.