In Search of Ancient Astronauts is a 1973 TV movie that’s an edited down and re-dubbed (by Rod Serling) version of a 1970 German documentary titled Erinnerungen an die Zukunft (“Chariots of the Gods”). The film explores Swiss author Erich von Däniken “paleo-contact” and “ancient astronauts” theories that space aliens landed on Earth in prehistoric times and were responsible for many of mankind’s oldest mysteries and religious myths, including Stonehenge, the Egyptian pyramids, the Nazca lines and the Moai of Easter Island.
Erich von Däniken’s books were absolutely huge best sellers throughout the 1970s, but his work has always been shunned by establishment archaeologists, historians and religious scholars. Carl Sagan referred to his work as “object lessons in sloppy thinking.”
What was not widely-known about him then is that at the time of his first book’s success, von Däniken was in prison on fraud and embezzlement charges. Over a period of twelve years von Däniken had falsified records and credit references of his employer, the Hotel Rosenhügel in Davos, Switzerland, in order to take out loans totaling $130,000 to pay for his book’s research expenses, which included world travel to exotic places. His second book, Gods from Outer Space, was written while he was in prison and with the money earned from publishing—his books sold in the millions—-he was able to pay restitution on his crimes and get out early.
And although he apparently went legit—and seems to believe what he espouses—many feel that this hotel manager cum “expert on the ancient world” is still on the make and accuse him of lying and falsifying evidence. Erich von Däniken’s theories have been debunked conclusively over and over and over again, but never mind that, von Däniken is still being taken semi-seriously to this day on TV shows like History Channel’s Ancient Aliens series.
This is what really set off the whole Erich von Däniken craze of the 1970s. In Search of Ancient Astronauts was the blueprint for producer Alan Landsburg’s long-running In Search Of… TV series narrated by Leonard Nimoy.
“This may be the most startling and controversial film you’ll ever see…”
At least it’s campy fun.