In the alternate universe that was 1970, the German film Erinnerungen an die Zukunft (based on Erich von Däniken’s book Chariots of the Gods?) made $26 million at the box office and was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature.
The film starts by discussing how native tribes found cargo from planes and began worshipping the flying machines as gods, which is probably how our ancestors saw ancient occupants of interplanetary craft.
Director Harald Reinl did movies in just about every popular German genre, from Edgar Wallace krimini, Karl May Westerns (both of these genres infuenced Italian giallo and westerns),mountain films, Heimatfilms (“hometown” rural movies), German war films and sequels to the Dr. Mabuse, Jerry Cotton and Kommissar X films.
In fact, his life ended like a krimini, as his wife, the former actress Daniela Maria Delis, stabbed him in their retirement home.
But let’s get back to the aliens that came down from the sky and turned cavemen into human beings.
As mondos stopped shocking people in the 70’s, the final place they could get audiences was to declare the Nazca Lines and crystal skulls and pyramids as not examples of our ancestors’ genius, but instead proof that aliens came down to earth like the fallen angels from the Lost Books of the Bible — look for it on Glenn Danzig’s bookshelves — and made us. There were so many versions of this movie, but this would be the one where it all gets going.
You can watch this on YouTube.