Thursday, April 9, 2015

The Black Hole

I recently re-watched "The Black Hole" for the first time in years and, I have to say, I still love it. I know that I loved it as a kid, and I'm not entirely sure why. It doesn't seem like a kids movie, really. What it is, and what I really appreciate, is that it's really close to hard sci-fi.

It's not entirely there, as it has anti-gravity on the Cygnus and sentient robots, but it gets a heck of a lot closer than any of it's contemporaries. Take the Palomino, for example. This ship was designed so that the only time there would be something akin to gravity on it was when the thrusters were employed. Otherwise, it's made to be a weightless, environment, which we see at the very beginning of the film.It also travels through space without it's engines typically on, relying on the momentum that it's already generated to get it where it's going.

The ending, while very reminiscent of the "Night on Bald Mountain/Ave Maria" sequence in Fantasia, offers no concrete answers. Do the astronauts make it through the black hole to another universe? Do they die and this is the afterlife? Did they get transported to another part of our universe? We don't know and that is the hallmark of good sci-fi, it raises questions that the viewer must puzzle out on their own.

Then there's the look of the movie, which is simply gorgeous. The models and backgrounds are highly detailed and it just looks like something that really could exist in a future time of space exploration. It's no wonder that it was up for an Academy Award for Best Visual Effects (which it lost to Alien).

One take-away from this movie that has me disappointed, though, is that this film, for all of Maximilian Schell's villainy, is still a bright look at the future. Here we are presented to a time when many nations of the Earth have their own deep space programs and are all exploring far out from our solar system. This is something that we have gotten too far away from in our fiction. We need a bright future to look forward to, not a post-apocalyptic wasteland. Hopefully, now that NASA is moving forward on getting us to Mars, we'll see more of a push towards a better tomorrow in fiction as well as reality.

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