Rogue Planet reunited once again in Los Angeles on December 3rd to attend the World Premiere of Jeremy Corbell’s highly anticipated documentary, Bob Lazar: Area 51 & Flyings Saucers. Screening at the historic Theater at Ace Hotel in Downtown Los Angeles, the 1,600 seat venue was packed to the very last seat with curious eyes and minds. Some knew the story of Bob Lazar, and some were hearing it for the very first time. Either way, it was time to finally hear the story from the man who lived it; Bob Lazar.
Corbell describes the film as follows:
“The reason you know about Area 51 is because Lazar came forward and told you about it. His disclosures have turned his life upside-down and he has tried to stay out of the spotlight. For this reason, he has never let any filmmaker into the private world of his daily life – that is – until now.”
And that is exactly what we were in store for as Corbell introduced the film and then let it speak for itself. What we got was a wonderful portrait of a young Lazar coming forward for the very first time, claiming to have back-engineered alien spacecraft at S-4, an installation near Area 51. The film unfolds with Corbell seeking the advice of his mentor, investigative news reporter, George Knapp. Knapp originally broke the Lazar story that would explode across the world and put both Lazar and Area 51 on the map. But after extreme scrutiny and threats by shadowy government officials, Lazar went quiet for almost thirty years. In that time, his story was twisted, changed, and distorted, leaving a husk of uncertainty and misconceptions not only of what he’d claimed to have witnessed and experienced, but him as a person. He was painted a liar, a grifter, and a conman. So when Corbell decided to make the film, he knew he had to bring Lazar out of the shadows to tell his story in his own words. But it wasn’t going to be easy. How do you make a man talk who doesn’t want to revisit the choice he made that seemingly ruined his life?
Corbell slowly earned Lazar’s trust and began to film him in current day. The film then takes us on a wild ride through Lazar’s past and his present, painting a picture of a man, who, no matter what you truly think of his claims, clearly was affected by the choice he made to bring his accusations forward that the government was not only in possession of alien technology, but they were back-engineering it and keeping it completely secret from the public. The science and technology that Lazar claims to have witnessed and even worked on is so far advanced, that it could change the world. In the film, Lazar gives a passionate proclamation that it’s a crime against the scientific community that this technology isn’t open to the greater public for the betterment of humanity.
Beyond the broader ethical questions of black projects and withholding world-changing technologies, the credibility of Lazar has been questioned immensely throughout the years. His claims of where he went to school and which laboratories he worked for prior to his work at S-4 have always been under hot debate. While you have notable physicists such as Stanton Friedman saying Lazar was nothing more than a janitor, Corbell does his best to solidify that Lazar most definitely worked at Los Alamos as a physicist, and has the knowledge and experience to back it up. As for Lazar’s educational background that he claims were degrees from MIT and CalTech, Corbell touches briefly on this but chooses to let the bigger picture reveal itself. Lazar is and was a physicist, and if what he says is true, then there are bigger questions to be asked. Could Lazar have beefed up his education to get a better job? It’s very possible. And both he and original investigator, Knapp, don’t shy away from this. They can’t prove Lazar’s education, but they can prove that his experience speaks volumes over a degree. It’s up to the viewer to decide if that matters more than his education.
Some of the most telling glimpses into Lazar’s life come in the form of family and friend’s memories of him prior to being what Corbell coined as “UFO Bob”. We hear stories of him building jet-powered bicycles, cars, and even building a particle accelerator in his own bedroom. This quirky, coke-bottle glasses-wearing scientist had an imagination that fused with his integration of psychics, chemistry, and everything in between. Could this have led to his eventual job of reverse engineering the physics of an alien propulsion system? Or even his work with the highly controversial black sheep of the periodic table; Element 115? Many believe so. But then again, many do not. But what is hard to deny is that Bob Lazar is a charming guy, who clearly doesn’t want to be in the spotlight. Not when he first came forward. And certainly not now. This is quite apparent when Corbell presses him on certain issues. Lazar’s response is basically: “I don’t care if you believe me or not. It happened. It’s real. And I’m done trying to convince people.”
The film is narrated by Oscar-nominated actor, Mickey Rourke. His gravelly, grainy voice underlays the desert landscapes of Nevada exactly how Corbell probably envisioned it would. However, whether due to a poor sound system at the theater, or if it was indeed the extent of Rourke’s raspy voice strained beyond repair, his almost poetic lines were completely lost in the desert sun, leaving his contribution to the film in auditory limbo. However, the music throughout the film sang and pulsated a completely different tune. Composed by REDBLUEBLACKSILVER, it blasted a dusty vapor-wave of 80s goodness, giving the older footage of a younger Lazar a hip, thriller-movie feel. But when shit got real, the music shifted to a different tone.
One of the biggest bombshells of the film comes in the form of an FBI raid on Lazar’s home, only a day after he and Corbell had a very sensitive, and what they assumed, private conversation about rumors that Lazar had, in his possession, Element 115. This string of events led to the most exciting part of the film, and heightened the stakes immensely.
Corbell gives us perhaps the most deeply humanizing look at a man who seemingly became a trickle-down myth of both belief and doubt for the last thirty years. Lazar was presented to an audience at least two generations removed from the original story, and I couldn’t help but look at the curious, young eyes staring at the screen, hearing a lot of this for the first time. And that’s when it hit me; while the film may retread what many in the UFO field already knew, it was completely fresh to those who had never heard it before. And I would imagine, as I did when I was thirteen, that some of it blew their minds and made them question everything they thought they knew about UFOs and our government. For me, I left feeling basically the same as I did before seeing the film. But I left with a much bigger and clearer portrait of Bob Lazar himself, which was severely lacking in the debate over his story for so long. I left with a much stronger feeling that something definitely happened out there in the Nevada deserts. And Lazar did witness and experience some very strange things.
The film ended and the audience was greeted by a Q&A with Jeremy Corbell, George Knapp, and Bob Lazar in the flesh. Lazar answered questions by Corbell and those on Twitter using #BobLazar. Never being one to use many words, Lazar answered with precision and a genuine appreciation of the audience. It was truly a night to remember having all three on stage to discuss the film.
Was it a disinformation campaign he was hired to leak to the public? Could he have been an unknowing disinformation agent living in a staged string of events for reasons unknown? Or, perhaps most startling; was everything he saw and said completely true? All answers lead to so many more questions. And after the premiere of the film, and its subsequent worldwide release, those questions have only begun to be asked. And it’s a journey that Corbell, the skeptics, and the believers are ready and willing to take one more time, searching for the truth whether they like it or not.