it’s pouring rain tonight and I watched The Black Hole for the first time since my childhood. It’s a movie that deserves to be seen and remembered, even if some aspects are forgettable.
I was too young to notice trends at the time, but once Star Wars became a hit, every studio in Hollywood must have wanted their own glitzy science-fiction picture to attract that audience. Someone at Disney must have wanted that money so bad they greenlit this: a surreal, bleak, barely-family-friendly space opera.
Listen to that theme song (by John Barry of James Bond fame)! This is no roaring adventure, it’s a descent into madness. As a child I’m sure I was hooked by all the robots and eventual laser blasters but watching it as a grownup, the entire film gives off an Event Horizon vibe. Indeed, I think one could write a compelling essay putting those two films in the same universe.
The Black Hole isn’t a great movie. Despite being a brief ninety minutes, the movie takes a long time to get started and the characters on-screen seem to be the last ones to realize that the obvious villain of the film is going to kill them. And that villain’s exact intentions are never really made clear: he wants to go through the black hole, but was he waiting for someone to find him first? Was he always going to kill his guests, or did he decide to do that only when they finally figured out he was chaotic insane?
There’s also the matter of the nonsensical science in this science-fiction movie. I don’t demand realism at all times but I’m old-fashioned enough to want some semblance of rational physics. Yet multiple characters seem to survive the vacuum of space in The Black Hole because…someone catches them? They have a firm grip?
Regardless, it’s worth watching because it’s such a strange creation. The evil robot, Maximillian (seen above) is cool. The Cygnus, the giant ship where the villain lives, is cool. And when they finally go into the black hole…I won’t give it away, but it was the last thing I expected.
The bad news is that Disney seems to have forgotten (or lost interest) in this movie. No Blu-Ray exists as far as I can tell, and the DVDs are from a decade ago. I’m not sure it even came out on DVD in Japan at all and Japan loves everything Disney touches.
But I recommend you seek it out. Don’t break the bank, don’t sacrifice too much, but give it a look. For years, The Black Hole lingered inside my head like a nightmare, as nothing but images minus all context. Now that I’ve seen it as a grown-up, I can rest easier knowing that it’s not cinematic buried treasure but I’m glad I dug it up all the same.
I’m going to dream about this movie, aren’t I? Be kind, brain.