Sony’s upcoming alien invasion flick “Battle: Los Angeles” posits an apocalyptic scenario in which the City of Angels is the last of the world’s major cities left standing after marauding extraterrestrials invade from the heavens. It’s also based on a true story. Sort of.
As the Los Angeles Times reported on Feb. 26, 1942, unidentified aircraft were spotted over Southern California skies — news that couldn’t have come at a worse time. Japanese war planes had attacked Pearl Harbor just two months before, and the West Coast was on edge, fearing the same fate, when the military opened fire on whatever was hovering in the early morning darkness. Panic ensued.
A barrage of anti-aircraft fire rattled the earth as beams of immense searchlights illuminated the sky. Times headlines captured the surreal moment: “Police With Hallucinations See 150 to 200 Planes in Sky, but Saner Ones Only Seven.” Roaring guns could be heard throughout the region. Homes were damaged. One woman reportedly fainted as she learned “ ‘Real Guns’ Blaze Skyward.” “Sitting on the lid of a bubbling volcano is just like awakening during an enemy air raid,” Times reporter Ray Zeman wrote in a first-person account.
Amid that eruption of artillery fire, though, not a single aircraft was hit.
It’s been 69 years since that air raid, yet what actually happened remains a mystery, one that the creative team behind the movie was excited to use as a jumping-off point: It wasn’t enemies from across an ocean surreptitiously flying over the coast. These were aliens from another world, with even more nefarious plans.
According to a panel of UFO experts recently convened by Sony to help promote the movie, the scenario could actually come true.
Working from the premise that we are, in fact, not alone in the universe, the panelists said that most encounters with aliens to date have been without conflict. But were warring aliens to invade our skies, retired Air Force Capt. Robert Salas said the American military would have a fighting chance, even if the extraterrestrials might ultimately have the upper hand. He said their technology and war machinery was “being built by civilizations much more advanced than ours.”
Mark Easter of the Mutual UFO Network, a group that investigates UFOs, expects to see an uptick in reported sightings in the coming months, precisely because of the release of “Battle: Los Angeles.” He said alien-invasion-themed movies tend to cause a spike in the average of about 600 sightings sent to MUFON each month.
But it’s not extraterrestrial hypochondria, he said: Instead, movies like “Battle: Los Angeles” force people to look at the universe at a wider angle, piquing their interest in what lies beyond Earth.
“They walk out of the theater, and they look up at the sky.”
– Rick Rojas
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