I’ve wanted to re-watch this film for years now, but I never managed to find a broadcast version of the movie in widescreen. I hate pan & scan presentations, and I knew that this one was shot wide, so I finally gave up trying to catch it in a widescreen presentation on cable and just bought the DVD straight from Amazon.
The Black Hole (1979)
It is the first time I’ve seen The Black Hole since its initial release to theaters back in 1979. When I saw it on screen for the first time I was completely blown away by the haunting images of the Cygnus suspended near a black hole like an insect caught in amber, a supposed derelict from a previous decade’s exploration. To this day I can’t get that image out of my head when I think about that movie. It is that sequence that motivated me to buy the DVD and watch the movie again.
Like everything Disney, especially at the time, there were patronizing attitudes from the characters on screen, and cute characters designed to sell toys to children. I had conditioned myself to overlook certain sequences in every film that came out from Disney (like the gridbugs sequence in Tron) consequently I was prepared to overlook the robots in the show and the requisite wires that came along with the floating robots that were visible in some scenes. These were the days of practical effects and wires were a requirement if you were going to film someone floating in space in 1979.
The floating robots and the artificial gravity on the Cygnus both call into question the science that the show is telling its story around. The ability to generate artificial gravity, or to have the robots negating gravity in order to float, implies an understanding of gravitational force and the technological ability to modify it, something that the characters in the show are obliged to marvel at as if it were a new thing.
It was about what I remember. The story, while simple, is compelling. It would be interesting to see this redone with modern effects and better dialog. Rumor has it that Disney has a remake in the works.
The real reason this movie still resides inside my head is the beauty of the Cygnus. That is why the screencap I took of the ship in the movie is the featured image. Here are a few more images of that glorious ship.
It manages to capture the beauty of and mystery of Jules Verne’s Nautilus which is supposedly what the designers were shooting for in the model. When they come up on the ship before it is lighted, it feels to me like approaching the Flying Dutchman on a stormy night at sea should feel. It is such a great sequence to watch.
Turn the movie off after they land on the ship if that is what makes it watchable for you. I stop watching Star Trek: Generations as soon as Kirk is swept off of the Enterprise B, 30 minutes into the movies run time. Movie’s over. Next film please.