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The Phenomenon
Childhood’s end: ‘The Phenomenon’
     Twenty-four minutes into the long-awaited documentary “The Phenomenon,” director James Fox foreshadows its final act with a look back at what happened outside Australia’s Westall School in 1966. That’s when several hundred students came swarming out of their classrooms upon hearing about a disc-shaped UFO stunting in broad daylight over the power lines near the athletic field. They watched it descend below the treeline, rise again, turn on its broad side, and zip away at a crazy velocity.

By Billy Cox
De Void

Fifty years later, a handful of those eyewitnesses reconvene to share not only
their sighting experience, but how they watched local and federal authorities
cordon off the landing area to conduct an investigation. They were also warned
by the administration during a subsequent school assembly that they hadn’t seen
what they said they saw. Even today, a faculty member who watched that event
unfold agreed to go on camera only after being assured of anonymity. For anyone
who’s followed the mystery for any length of time, stories like these are
generically familiar. Indeed, much of the setup follows a conventional arc with
names (from Gen. Roger Ramey to John Podesta), places (Roswell, Bentwaters,
Malmstrom AFB) and events (from Kenneth Arnold’s “flying saucer” sighting in
1947 to the 2004 Tic Tac incident off California) that are staples of the UFO
timeline. But Fox is targeting a much larger audience, and establishing baseline
frames of reference for the uninitiated is absolutely critical for the emotional
wallop “The Phenomenon” packs at the end.

With American democracy on
the ropes and institutional norms degenerating into banana-republic spittle,
convincing audiences to divert their attention, if only momentarily, to what has
long been libeled as freak-show culture is a big ask.
It’s always been
a big ask. However, the fringe is also deteriorating, and things are happening
quickly now. Whether it’s the formation of the Pentagon UAP Task Force or the
anticipated release of the military intelligence report on UFOs to the Senate,
the landscape on the other side of the election is already evolving into
something for which we are unprepared. And “The Phenomenon” forces us to go even
deeper, to maybe even reassess the longstanding status quo on UFOs, as maybe a
crime against nature – human nature.

To be sure, Fox delivers twists that may take some cognoscenti by surprise.

Former Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Intelligence Chris Mellon, for
instance, recalls how Mercury astronaut Gordon Cooper broached the UFO subject
with President Clinton during a Cabinet meeting. Dispatched by SecDef William
Cohen to learn more, Mellon remembers hitting the wall when a USAF colonel told
him the pertinent records had been “cleaned up or thrown out to save space.”
Mellon goes on to recount how “somebody bent the rules” to get the
celebrated F-18 UFO chase videos to him in the parking lot of the Pentagon. He also professes how
“extraordinarily disappointed” he was in the NY Times groundbreaking story of
12/16/17, which showcased the videos and exposed the existence of the $22
million Advanced Aerospace Threat Identification Program.

Instead of focusing on AATIP, Mellon says, “the real story, in my mind at least,
should’ve been, these things are real, they’re here, this is happening now.”

“The Phenomenon” also takes us behind the scenes and gives us tantalizingly
brief glimpses into the research underway right now on purported UFO debris
collected “as far back as 1947.” French physicist/computer scientist/pioneer
UFOlogist Jacques Vallee says colleagues are investigating material that is
manufactured, not natural, by employing technology that allows researchers to
peer into atomic structure so deeply it is “impossible to fake.” Stanford Med
School microbiology professor Garry Nolan displays the “multiparameter ion beam
imager,” and discusses how it determined that the samples’ isotopic compositions
are unique to any metals known on Earth.

“If you’re talking about an advanced material from an advanced civilization,
you’re talking about something that I’ll just call an ultramaterial, right,”
Nolan tells Fox. “It’s something which has properties where somebody is putting
it together at the atomic scale. So we’re building our world with 80 elements,
somebody else is building the world with 253 different isotopes.”

But beyond isotopic ratios, a discussion of threats to the superpowers’ nuclear
arsenals, and the bureaucratic intrigues, “The Phenomenon” poses an even more
fundamental question: More than 70 years into the “modern” UFO era, where have
the morals or ethics of denial and obfuscation left us? In a more recent version
of what happened at the Westall School in Australia, Fox leads us to the Ariel
School in Zimbabwe, and into the life-altering mass encounter that went down in

Using a remarkable anthology of contemporaneous BBC video testimony from dozens
of schoolkids discussing what they saw 26 years ago, Fox reunites a handful of
those students for interviews as adults. All have had decades to contemplate
that moment, an experience which diverged sharply from your average
lights-in-the-sky fare. They reported seeing small beings outside the vehicle,
the apparent occupants, with large heads and huge, hypnotic black eyes. Many
received telepathic messages, largely dystopian, about the fate of the Earth and
technology’s role in its sickness.

Most poignant are the interviews conducted by the late Harvard psychiatrist John
Mack, whose onsite empathy and compassion in 1994 clearly moved some of those
kids to extraordinary reflection. To her credit, unlike in Australia, at least
one Ariel School official encouraged the children to “say exactly what you want
to say” as cameras assembled for interviews. Decades later, however, at least
one of the alums admitted to having misgivings about sharing her experience so
freely, “being so young and not even being allowed time to able to comprehend
what we had seen.” She added, “Our teacher certainly didn’t believe us, so that
was a big deal because we had to continue going to school there.”

By time Fox’s production team arrived in rural Ruwa, former Ariel teacher and
current headmistress Judy Bates had her own on-camera confession to make all
these years later: “I wanted to apologize, I should’ve taken more notice, but I
didn’t. I was more concerned about me and not them, and what was going on in my
own personal experience.” Her verdict: “Aliens visited us – and that’s about

Fox knows the Zimbabwe material is dynamite, and he’s smart
enough to back off and let the images breathe. It’s not so much what the kids
said back then as how they said it. They struggled to articulate what was going
on behind their eyes, and they expressed themselves with a halting uncertainty
that seemed to wobble between wonder and trauma. The adults failed them then,
just as they failed the Aussie kids in 1966, as well as countless others who’ve
been ostracized and doubting their sanity since whenever this all started.

Bottom line, “The Phenomenon” is a call to action. Fox puts an urgent human face
on the current momentum towards transparency, and he leaves us with a small
window into the price we pay for doing nothing. Someday, if and when the veil
parts, we may regret having peeked. But the consequences of being shielded from
the view are self-evident. And time is running out.

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Source: The Ufo Chronicals


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