CONCEIVED AND DIRECTED BY
Bob Wilkinson, Robert Tinnell (co-writer)
Seminal Films (DVD)
Do you know the name Gray Barker?
If you are a devotee of America's UFO phenomenon, then Gray Barker most assuredly is a familiar name. Barker, a newspaper reporter whose writings helped to create the foundation of the UFO phenomenon, is the subject of Shades of Gray, a 72-minute independent documentary directed by Bob Wilkinson that peels away the layers from a man who started a movement but eventually became known as one of the great hoaxers of the 20th century...at least to all those "officially" in the know.
Others remain undeterred and Barker's writings have been given life in books and movies including The Mothman Prophecies, Men in Black and The Philadelphia Experiment. Barker was the author of the best-selling "They Knew Too Much About Flying Saucers," and his unrelenting persistence on the subject led to regular visits from government officials and a growing movement that exists to this day despite those areas where Barker has been officially "discredited."
Those involved in the UFO phenomenon are aware of the facts and myths behind such events/locations as Area 51, The Flatwoods Monster, The Silver Bridge Collapse and the existence of flying saucers. Shades of Gray is an incredibly revealing and entertaining documentary that explores, with a surprising amount of heart and authenticity, the world of Barker and what really inspired him to pursue the UFO phenomenon with such vigor. Utilizing interviews with Barker's family and friends, archival footage, movie clips and book excerpts, Shades of Gray proposes that Barker became committed to writing what he believed the people wanted to read about UFO's even if the truth itself became slightly compromised.
Yet, Shades of Gray never quite dismisses Barker nor the UFO phenomenon itself. Instead, the film simply paints a balanced, realistic portrait who came to view himself as both reporter and, on a certain level, also an entertainer. It becomes clear that Barker was an eccentric, but Shades of Gray also paints with him with a great degree of affection and respect.
Director Bob Wilkinson is a producer and editor at West Virginia Public Broadcasting, and Shades of Gray has the look and feel of a late night cable documentary that would prove to be captivating and informative. Production credits are solid throughout.
Scheduled for a DVD release through Seminal Films on June 15th, 2010, those involved in the UFO phenomenon should consider Shades of Gray a must see documentary.
© Written by Richard Propes
The Independent Critic