A new doc examines the claims of Bob Lazar, a scientist who says he worked on extraterrestrial technology at a remote testing site near Area 51. Plus watch an exclusive clip.
In December 2017, The New York Times revealed the existence of a top secret government program called Advanced Aerospace Threat Identification. “The program produced documents that describe sightings of aircraft that seemed to move at very high velocities with no visible signs of propulsion, or that hovered with no apparent means of lift,” the Times reported.
As New York Magazine explained in a summary of the piece, “The internet went slightly more bananas than usual last weekend over The New York Times’ story implying that extraterrestrials are real and the U.S. government has been tracking them for years.” The paper of record’s reporting was long-awaited validation for anyone who has ever claimed a UFO sighting, or an inexplicable encounter with the beyond.
While the exposé was far from definitive, it appeared to be an important step forward—and an I told you so—for people like Bob Lazar, the subject of Jeremy Corbell’s new documentary Bob Lazar: Area 51 and Flying Saucers. In 1989, a then-anonymous Bob Lazar put Area 51 on the map when he came forward with his unbelievable story. Lazar said that he studied captured alien technology at a site called S-4, near the desert test facility. Almost 30 years later, Lazar’s story hasn’t changed, but our collective capacity for incredulity has certainly been tested. And Bob Lazar has been patiently waiting for us.
For a film that stars a humble, straightforward scientist who just so happened to spend some time with extraterrestrial technologies in the 1980s, Bob Lazar: Area 51 and Flying Saucers relishes in the surreal, trippy and spectacular. The documentary, part of Corbell’s Extraordinary Beliefs investigative film series, immediately overwhelms the viewer with flashing lights and disconcerting visuals. Meanwhile, Mickey Rourke’s narration ricochets into the frame as if from another dimension, raspy and strange, announcing, “Not to burst your bubble, but the Earth is not the center of the universe.”
“We create our own reality,” Rourke’s disembodied voice continues, as we see an iPhone light up with a number of texts from Bob Lazar, saying that he is being raided by the FBI. This is where we start: with a raid that we are led to believe is in response to a recently-filmed conversation between Corbell and Lazar. “This story is extraordinary, especially if it’s true,” Rourke growls. “And it all started in the desert, just north of Las Vegas.”
Lazar first made waves as an anonymous scientist. He told the media about Area 51, and claimed that there were nine disks “of extraterrestrial origin” being tested and studied there. He insisted that he had no idea how the government got their hands on these spaceships, and that his life had been threatened over this information. Lazar called the government’s secrecy a “crime against the scientific community,” who had been robbed of the opportunity to study and reckon with this otherworldly technology. When Lazar eventually did go public, it was in a series of interviews with journalist George Knapp, who has been described as “the best known above-ground correspondent on the ET beat.” Knapp first appears in the documentary providing background on Lazar, and warning Corbell that he might not want to talk. “He doesn’t like the attention,” Knapp explains. “It totally screwed up his life.”
Knapp’s early coverage is excerpted throughout the documentary. Lazar, young and wiry, walked Knapp through every detail. During his job-application process, he seemingly stumbled into this unique position. Early on, he said, he was given briefings to pore over. They referred to flying saucers and extraterrestrials. Recalling his disbelief, Lazar explained, “It’s a science dream.” He says his new employers showed him a spacecraft. He was tasked with reverse engineering the propulsion, to see if they could recreate it.
“It’s a fantastic story, but it’s true,” Lazar continued. “These crafts come from another solar system entirely. And they’re here.”
In those late-‘80s clips, Lazar explained that he was going public “as insurance,” and claimed that his tire had been shot out while he was driving his car. Knapp’s conversations with Lazar, and his work attempting to verify the scientist’s story, exploded, and gave Area 51 the name recognition and international allure it enjoys to this day. “Tens of thousands of people started showing up out there,” Knapp recalls. “I know a lot of my media colleagues had problems with that story, but they covered it.”
Come for the aliens, stay for Mickey Rourke describing the topography of Area 51 like so: “The mountains appear to float on dry lake beds, like spaceships from another world… What are they building in the desert north of Las Vegas? What the fuck are they hiding?”
Of course, old news clips and drawings of aliens set to Mickey Rourke’s trippy spoken-word poetry recitations only go so far. The documentary begins in earnest when an unassuming man in a crewneck sweatshirt and wire-rim glasses first addresses the camera. “My name’s Bob Lazar, I’m known for working at a classified base known as S-4 out in the Nevada desert near Area 51. And there, we reverse-engineered alien space crafts.” Present-day Lazar owns and runs a scientific supply company and lives with his wife Joy, who appears to have zero reservations about her husband’s claims: “He doesn’t make stuff up.”