He’s still alive. 82 now. Unrepentant apparently.
I went to one of his talks once way back in the seventies, somewhere near Paddington cant remember the venue. Can’t even picture it, just too long ago. I remember it was about three-quarters full which wasn’t bad given that there was virtually no publicity. It was like a secret - society thing; go left at the third traffic lights then double-back to the library, cross the road and someone will show you the way from there. It was full of geeks and they all knew more, much more than he did. What did he think was meant by Exodus 4:22? Did he realise that the Aztec lines on the Tiahuanaco Ziggurat exactly matched the dimensions of the lower tomb in the great pyramid of Gizza? And of course the lines in the Peruvian desert pointed not to Venus as he says in Chariots of the Gods but to solar system MH87R55 in the constellation of Zog. Which is where the Gods really came from.
I seemed to be sitting next to the Chief Geek. He argued every point with Von Daniken who was definitely not expecting an audience that was so well informed. He was probably on his guard for cat-calls and cries of rubbish at his theories, hence all the cloak and dagger stuff beforehand but not this. I mean who are/were these people? I was just casually interested having read his book but they were totally immersed in it; never doubting anything.
I had forgotten all about this until yesterday when I watched Prometheus [Ridley Scott 2012] on TV on Monday. Never seen it before. It’s supposedly a prequel to Alien, one of my all-time favourite films and explains how the alien monster came to be alive on the planet. I think Ridley must have been the Chief Geek I mentioned earlier because it is full of this pseudo-archaeological imagery. Tomb drawings of time-travellers; unknown solar systems painted on cave walls forty-thousand years ago; Egyptian high priests guiding the dead through the twelve hours. It is in fact as comprehensive a summary of all of Von Daniken’s stuff as I have ever seen and being Ridley Scott, it is very convincing and beautifully realised. But being Ridley, it isn’t enough, he needs his blood and gore and eventually it tips into a slick horror film.
Up to that point however it is an absorbing watch with allusion piled upon allusion; Christian imagery; Norse mythology juxtaposed with current culture [Doctor Who] for example, the main protagonist is called Elizabeth Shaw, the name of the Doctor’s assistant in Series 3 [which was about aliens creating life on earth].
There is an amazing piece on Reddit deconstructing the film and the ideas behind it called Everything Explained, if anyone is interested.