Naturally, I considered the modern media influence on the appearance of the BEKs. By the early 2000s, the effect had been used in film and television. Most notable to those with an interest in the paranormal was the effect’s use in the X-Files. A ‘black oily alien substance’ was seen invading human bodies and taking them over. As part of the process, the victim’s eyes would turn solid black.
Bear in mind, this effect was not in common use at the time. Since then, it’s seen constantly in movies and television to represent aliens, demons, vampires and a host of other supernatural beings. I find it interesting that solid black eyes are used to such extent in portraying a range of strange beings but it automatically communicates an evil or negative presence so filmmakers make full use of it.Still, people with sharp eyes often send me images that I was unaware of that relate to the BEKs. Recently, I received one that I found particularly fascinating. It came from Jason Scott who emailed me with a question;
“Were you aware that there is a picture reference of the Black Eyed Children in 'Close Encounters of the Third Kind’?”
Turned out there was. Jason sent a screen shot of the relevant scene. Admittedly, I still wasn’t sure so I got the film out and went to the scene myself; I had to see it in the actual movie. I could hardly believe it but, sure enough, there it was. The image is a painting hanging on the wall in Roy’s (Richard Dreyfuss) home. Oddly, the image is at an angle and the BEK in the painting appears to be leaning into the scene. As you can see from the photo and the enlargement, the painting is clearly a child with oversized black eyes.
Close Encounters came out in 1977. BEKs were hardly a topic on anyone’s mind at that point so what exactly is the point of this picture? Was there a popular mass produced painting during the time that depicted such a child? If so, I have yet to locate it. Perhaps Spielberg put it there as a subtle connection to the grays that would appear by the end of the film but, if so, even that is a weird coincidence when we consider the popular alien hybrid theory connected to the children. Watching the scene, I also find it odd that one of the boys stands behind Roy and leans sideways like a mirror image of the child in the painting.
If you'd like to see the relevant section yourself, the scene begins just after the first half hour or so of the movie (depending on the cut you have).