The Black Hole (Bilingual)
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The U.S.S. Cygnus is perched precariously at the edge of a black hole -- the vast, empty nothingness where space and time end. Anything that crosses its border enters a universe of the complete unknown. And so begins a story that only Disney's film magicians could tell. A story of robots and humanoids. Of human genius and madness. And a spectacular descent into nature's ultimate mystery -- The Black Hole.
Disney's foray into big-budget science fiction, close on the heels of Star Wars, had some of the most impressive special effects to grace theater screens in the 1970s. Graced by handsome production design--most notably a glass and latticework interstellar craft that looks like a battleship crossed with a modern skyscraper--The Black Hole is in many ways the most beautiful science fiction film of its era. Unfortunately, the graceful and gorgeous picture is jarred by dialogue that wouldn't pass muster in a comic book and a silly conclusion that plays like a murky, dime-store knockoff of 2001. Too bad, because the visual realization of the film is a veritable haunted house of futuristic phenomena, from the cloaked zombie-like drones shuffling through corridors to the devilish, crimson robot Maximillian, the strong arm of the mad scientist played by Maximilian Schell (a kind of wild man Captain Nemo with an even more ruthless temperament). Only the way-too-cute robot V.I.N.CENT (voiced by Roddy McDowall), a merchandising gimmick that looks like a Fisher-Price toy, mars the technological landscape. Robert Forster is the quietly authoritative captain of an exploration ship that stumbles across the seemingly derelict ship, and Anthony Perkins, Yvette Mimieux, Ernest Borgnine, and Joseph Bottoms fill out his crew. This is one case of a triumph of art direction and special effects over story--it's worth sitting through it to see the magnificent scene of the fireball rolling through the ship's enormous hull alone. The rest is just atmospheric gravy. --Sean Axmaker --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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The actors all do well despite the wooden script (Maximillion and Yvette give the most note-worthy performances). I blame this primarily on the writers. Apparently, the script had too many hands in it and it shows with inconsistencies throughout the film. And yes, I consider V.I.N.CENT and BOB to be a little on the cheesy side, but I loved them growing up.
The hell sequence at the end was the scene that truly stuck with me. It's creepy to say the least. For those who don't understand the meaning, does it need to be spelled out? The symbolism is that Reinhart's eternal punishment was to be imprisoned in the shell (no pun intended) of Maximillion just as he imprisoned the crew of the Cyngus. Plan and simple. As to what happened to the survivors of the Palomino, I still believe they emerged from the black hole on the other side of the galaxy somewhere. Many have speculated that their survival was because of Kate's ESP.
Anyways, I believe that had the film not been rushed and the script had gotten better treatment, this would've been one of the greatest sci-fi films ever made. Even still it's a flawed classic that I will enjoy over and over again.
Put all that aside though and you are left with a minor sci fi masterpiece. Atmospherically the film is an outright winner - it is just so gothic, from its' sets, robots, and cowled and hooded undead crew. It also boasts one of the very best musical scores by John Barry. Visually it is stunning, Space has seldom looked this good. The blue/black background of space with its' dense clusters of stars looks as good as it did on the day that it was released. Unlike Star Wars and its' visibly dated mattes, this film has more than withstood the test of time.
The film's visual pinnacle though is the giant space ship Cygnus.
A cross between Brighton Pier and The Eiffel Tower, this gothic behemoth is like no other. The scene where its' lights are switched on suddenly and unexpectedly, is one of awe and beauty.
The exploration of the ship, culminating in the arrival in the control tower is stunning. Ditto the firing up of the ship's Frankenstein Lab like reactors and huge engines for its' final journey to the Black Hole. Even in its' death throes, this huge vessel retains a sad dignity.
Acting honours go to Maximilian Schell as an intergalactic Captain Nemo. Ernest Borgnine, Anthony Perkins, Yvette Mimeux, and Robert Forster all provide very able support though.Read more ›
I think Roddy McDowell is one of the most underrated actors ever, and I could probably listen to him reading his grocery list for two hours and still be entertained. McDowell and the legendary Slim Pickens both voice robots in this movie (shameless R2D2 ripoffs, except they can fly!) and the touch of classic, recognizable voices makes the movie that much easier to swallow.
Having said that, The Black Hole isn't great sci-fi, but it's not bad. The USS Cygnus (great name, if you know what it refers to) has been missing in space for 20 years. However, the exploration vessel Palomino has just stumbled upon it, seemingly derelict. It is also inexplicably hovering in front of a black hole! Impossible! And as Palomino approaches, Cygnus turns on her lights. She is not a derelict after all!
In fact, she is crewed entirely by robots, except for the commander. Dr. Hans Reinhardt (man, I love when mad scientist have German names!) commands this motley crew, a genius who has discovered the secret of gravity. But can he be trusted? Dr. Alex Durant (the wonderful Anthony Perkins) seems to trust him, but certain things do not add up. Why does he have gardens on board the ship, food enough to feed an army? Why do the robots have funerals? The psychic Dr. Kate doesn't trust him. Her father used to be under his command, and the stories just don't sound right.
The starship design in this movie is just stellar, and very unique. All girders and lights, Cygnus is a monstrosity, with depth and foreboding beauty. The smaller Palomino follows similar designs, but is more capsule-shaped.Read more ›
Before I take "The Black Hole" apart, I will say that when I was young, it was a movie I thoroughly enjoyed. It's clean, clever and has some lovable characters (i.e. Vincent). Maximillian was a great looking villan (though arguably a cylon rip-off). It is visually wonderful and obviously had a lot of work thrown into making it an epic Sci-Fi. The soundtrack was great. The premise is great and I imagine that some day, it may be re-made into a truly amazing movie. The whole mystique of the black hole is a great Sci-Fi concept.
That being said, if this movie wasn't competing with the George Lucas series of the same era, it still wouldn't have been a classic. The characters and dialogue are comically weak (how many times have we seen the crazy scientist alone in space before?). Many of the scenes and concepts are now, at least in the 21st century, laughable (i.e. when there's the hull breach in the garden and everyone simple walks through it without getting sucked into space, or even having breathing problems). The ending was simply bizarre (did the doctor and the robot combine to become Satan?) and for the last 5 mintues, I didn't have a clue whether I was watching a bad heavy metal video from the 80's or the same movie.
It's a clean enough movie for some older kids to watch (there's God's name in vain and d**n, but no blood or sexual scenes) and it will get imaginations going, but I'm glad I got it cheap. One watch and it's not getting watched again...unless I have an MST3K party. Then it's DEFINITELY coming out!
Most recent customer reviews
Being born in 76, I saw (parts) of that movie as a kid. Didn't like it much in the early 80's but I liked it in 2015. Read morePublished 6 months ago by michel Labrèche
I play this for my class & then played Interstellar. Then we compare what we knew then to what we know now. Wow, have we JUMPED in understanding Einstein's Law of Relativity.Published 6 months ago by John Mezzavilla
"The Black Hole" came out in a period when science fiction was making a big comeback. "Star Wars: A New Hope" had come out a year or two before, "2001: A Space... Read morePublished 11 months ago by E. A Solinas
This 1979 Disney film The Black Hole is notable for its stunning visuals. The story is so-so and the actors are forgettable, except for Maximilian Schell who played Dr. Read morePublished 20 months ago by Alan Rivière
What can be said but love it. Its all old school efffects mixed with a bit off the new for that time.Published 21 months ago by stuart taylor
Not quite as I remember it, but the last time I saw it was in theaters as a kid. Not the 'action movie' of today's standards and a bit dry at times...but overall still very good. Read morePublished on Oct. 18 2013 by Kevinn Ess
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