Review: Area 51: The CIA’s Secret Files | Virgin Media
Review: Area 51: The CIA’s Secret Files

Review: Area 51: The CIA’s Secret FilesAired Saturday 16th January at 8pm on National Geographic (CH 257) | Rating: ★★★½

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Any armchair Mulders will have been a bit peeved by this documentary, but fans of real history – and the Cold War – would have been enthralled at this peek behind the scenes of Area 51.

In a nutshell

Sorry everybody – there are no aliens at Area 51. At least, that’s what the people behind this incredibly detailed and fascinating programme want us to believe. And frankly that’s fine, because the reality of this fabled area is much more interesting than the dreary conspiracy clichés. As the documentary revealed, far from being some holding pen for little green men, Area 51 is actually where the US military developed everything from the U2 spy planes to stealth bombers.

We got plenty of footage from the dark days of the Cold War, and there was an array of grizzled old men willing to chit-chat about their days as scientists and technicians in the world’s most infamous government base. But the best parts had nothing to do with the past – they were the scenes shot outside Area 51 as it is today, with experts giving us a guided tour of the perimeter, the sprawling barren desert, ominously dotted with security cameras and eerie government vehicles. It was in those sequences that we felt that special frisson, and were reminded of why this place has inspired so many outlandish and creepy legends over the decades.

What's the verdict?

Anyone who knows Area 51 from shows like The X Files and movies like Independence Day would have been both riveted and faintly disappointed by this programme. But don't worry – just because the staff claim it was all rocket scientists and military tech doesn't mean Area 51 won't continue to bewitch and titillate science-fiction writers for years to come. The truth is still out there...

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