Before ET There Was Meba The Supersonic Saucer

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The Supersonic Saucer is a children’s movie made by the Children’s Film Foundation in 1956. It’s a British film directed by Guy Fergusson. I started watching it hoping it would be unintentionally creepy or absurd but besides a very silly prop/costume/puppet that stands in for a lost Venusian, its all pretty standard fare. It’s quite like a posh version of Scooby Do. The evil, mob-boss even initiates a chase montage by yelling “We’ve got to stop those kids!”

Mebus, the alien, resembles Steven Speilberg’s ET wearing a white burka. Mebus travels by transforming him or her or itself into a cheaply animated flying saucer which buzzes over numerous still photographs of London. It’s actually kind of endearing. It provides a time capsuled tour of the city in the 1950s.

Mebus makes friends with a group of children who must keep him/her/it out of trouble. Mebus has the ability to grant wishes but the way he fulfills them is problematic. The children are hungry and, not knowing yet that Mebus can grant wishes, they passively wish they had a table full of food. Mebus magically steals a whole feast in pastries from a local bakery which then appears on the children’s table.

Mebus appears to be a friendly but amoral being much the same way Satan is in Mark Twain’s The Mysterious Stranger. In Twain’s story, Satan makes friends with a group of small children. He appears to them as a friendly child. He is not evil, he is just amoral which eventually unnerves the children, but not before we see several strange insights into how morality colors our perception of reality.

Mebus is no philosopher, in fact, it doesn’t speak, but it, like Twain’s Satan seems unhampered by morality. The children unwittingly use the word “wish” as a turn of phrase and end up having to undo whatever Mebus’ response was.

Mebus’s ability to grant wishes which catches the eye of a criminal who looks like one of the Thompson Twins from the Tin Tin comics. The children save Mebus from the bad guy’s clutches and that’s really about all there is to the plot.

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There is one last strange resonance that the film has. The lead boy, Rodney, is an obnoxious, condescending, dolt that resembles Doctor Who. His facial features don’t really resemble any of the Timelord’s incarnations but Rodney has a long scarf and that same tendency to dismiss everyone around him as irrelevant. Actually Rodney’s scarf is striped and he has circular eyeglasses resembling a certain Hogwart’s student, but I am making this all sound far more interesting than it is.

The Supersonic Saucer is just a simple children’s film that refrains from anything too intense so as not to frighten its intended audience. When the ending credits roll you can already feel the film fading from your short term memory never to be heard from again.

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I have an MFA in painting and I’m an art professor but I managed to convince the school to let me teach film. https://twitter.com/Filmofile1

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