"Chariots of the Gods," or "Erinnerungen an die Zukunft," is a 1970 documentary based on the book of the same name written by Erich von Daniken. Both the book and movie explore evidence, via ancient mysteries like the pyramids of Egypt, that aliens once visited Earth. Over the years, the film has been remade and controversy has surrounded the validity of the German documentary's claims.
In the book "Chariots of the Gods," written in 1968, von Daniken purports that interplanetary contact must have taken place on Earth hundreds, if not thousands, of years ago. He uses anthropological evidence, such as myths or artwork depicting visitors from the sky, to support his claims. Von Daniken also questions whether or not humans had the ability to create some of the world's greatest monuments, such as the Egyptian or Mayan pyramids and the heads of Easter Island. Von Daniken's theory also attests that either aliens gave technology to the ancient peoples of Earth that allowed them to create these monuments or the aliens created the monuments themselves. He also argues that many religions may have originated from reactions to the interplanetary contact, citing sources such as the story of the destruction of Sodom in the Old Testament.
The 1970 Film
The 1970 film, based on von Daniken's book, was produced by Dr. Manfred Barthel and Gunther Eulau in West Germany. One day after its release, the East Germany government banned the documentary. Harald Reinl and Wilhelm Roggersdorf wrote the film, which explores the book's theories and evidence. Heinz-Detlev Bock, Klaus Kindler and Christian Marschall narrated the film, and Hans Domnick, Thor Heyerdahl, Aleksandr Kazantsev and Hermann Oberth are all listed as participants in the film credits. In 1973, the film was dubbed into English and released in the US as a television documentary called, "In Search of Ancient Astronauts."
The 1997 Film
In 1997, director Robert Asher produced an update to the 1970 film, with Erich von Daniken hosting, alongside Graham Hancock and Richard Karn. In this edition, the film crew visits many of the sites, such as the ruins at Carnac in Brittany, that are discussed in the book and films.
Over the years, critics have disclaimed von Daniken's theories, arguing that his evidence is pseudoscientific, faulty and fraudulent. In an interview for The Correx Archive, Dr. Christiana Kohler, an Egyptologist at Macquarie University, questions the ambiguity surrounding von Daniken's statements about the obelisk of Karnack, asking which obelisk he refers to. Other critics have pointed out mathematical incongruencies in von Daniken's theories, such as faulty equations and misconceptions about Pi. A 2004 article from Skeptic magazine purports that von Daniken's theories are ripped from the pages of H.P. Lovecraft, sharing a stark similarity to the Cthulhu mythos. In 1976, Ronald Story wrote "The Space-Gods Revealed: A Close Look at the Theories of Erich von Daniken," which features a forward by Carl Sagan, and refutes many of von Daniken's claims.
- IMDB: Erinnerungen an die Zukunft
- IMDB: Chariots of the Gods
- "The Correx Archive"; Chariots of Lies...; Paul Willis
- "Extraterrestrial Contact"; Von Daniken's Chariots of the Gods - Documentary Film Review; Adam K. Nelson
- "NICAP UFO Investigator"; Erich von Daniken's, "Chariots of the Gods?"... ; Robert Sheaffer; October/November 1974
- "Skeptic" magazine; Charioteer of the Gods... ; Jason Colavito; October 2004
- Digital Vision./Digital Vision/Getty Images