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.
- MPAA rating : Unrated (Not Rated)
- Product Dimensions : 7.5 x 5.5 x 0.5 inches; 2.93 Ounces
- Media Format : Multiple Formats, Color, NTSC
- Run time : 1 hour and 12 minutes
- Release date : June 15, 2010
- Actors : VARIOUS
- Language : Unqualified
- Studio : Seminal Films
- ASIN : B003BV8I8G
- Number of discs : 1
- Best Sellers Rank: #296,707 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
- #17,609 in Documentary (Movies & TV)
- Customer Reviews:
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Through the course of the film, Barker's friends and colleagues share reminisces, highlighting both his stronger points and his key faults as an investigator (an occasionally impish sense of humor that led him to perpetrate a hoax or two along the way). Do these hoaxes make him less reliable on other incidents? My personal belief is that they don't. For a movie that could have been just a series of talking heads, it's incredibly interesting. Through the use of interviews, old footage of Barker, bits and pieces of old news footage, and just a touch of reenactment, the director crafts a multi-layered narrative that never gets boring, and is often fascinating.
The only criticism I have for the film is that it presumes familiarity with all of the subjects discussed in the movie. The general public may well be mildly versed in the lore of the Men in Black (thanks to the film and the X-Files) and the Mothman (the film), but how many people outside of the UFO field are familiar with the Flatwoods Monster or George Adamski? The filmmakers provide us with very brief (1-2 minute) overviews of each incident before getting into Barker's handling of them, but this isn't nearly enough for the layman. The film is only 72 minutes long...surely they could have added more comprehensive overviews without making the film feel padded or overlong. I'm not talking about much...another 3 or 4 minutes each, maximum. I feel this would have made Shades of Gray much more accessible to someone with only a mild interest in UFOs. As it stands, it's really for the devotees only.
I really enjoyed getting a closer look at the occasionally enigmatic Barker, but I came in knowing something about him already. Still, it's an intimate portrait of a man who devoted big parts of his life to the study of something that eludes us all...the unknown.
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.