As Disney®™© continues to delve into their archives for things to regurgitate on the masses, there’s one that cries out for a loving remake. It’s a film that cried out for a longer production timeline and bigger budget at the time, as it was rushed to production to compete in a changing market.
I’m neither talking about a reboot nor a quasi-sequel-reboot like Star Trek. This is a film from their past catalogue that demands a truly big-budget remake that matches its great concepts.
The film I’m discussing is The Black Hole.
1979’s The Black Hole, Disney’s Answer to Star Wars…and So Much More
Released in 1979, The Black Hole was Disney’s big foray into science fiction, followed soon after by Tron. They longed to capture the changing zeitgeist in the shadow of George Lucas’ Star Wars. This was before the days when media companies just bought each other, and tried to compete for the public’s attention.
Oh, what a world we’ve allowed to be.
I won’t belabor things with greater production detail simply because I’d just be repeating what you can read elsewhere, in hopes of maximizing “link juice” (real term) and as we all know, I’m just doing this as a hobby and don’t really care about that stuff.
I’m just happy that you chose to spend this time with me.
More Than An Answer to Star Wars
Recently I was part of a discussion about The Black Hole over on a show called Words With Nerds. Give it a listen if you’re so inclined.
In a nutshell, any real examination of the film revolves around how much of a challenge Disney took on in making this movie. The fact that the director, Gary Nelson, turned this around so quickly is a testament to incredible resource management.
The ideas here are so big, any filmmaker or studio would have had issues with fully realizing this. It’s a bold, memorable foray into science fiction and touches on some incredibly interesting themes.
The rising awareness of technology’s further encroachment on our humanity, our pride, our sense of fragility as we attempt great leaps forward, and the inevitable madness of those who obsess to control what is uncontrollable, are all layered into this story. Where we go when we break the barrier between the known and unknowable results in a journey that suggests the Black Hole is a doorway to somewhere beyond our perceptions of space and time.
The conclusion of the film is an attempt to recapture not the magic of Star Wars, but rather the heady postulations found at the end of 2001: A Space Odyssey. This is a film that simply needed more time to gestate.
More than anything, it’s caught between the world of “kid friendly” and “high concept.” Disney was open to going for a PG rating, for the first time in its history, but they needed to commit to pushing the edge.
I think one of the reasons I love the film The Black Hole, despite its shortcomings, is that it’s a clear display of a studio encouraging imagination. Their motivations may have been mercenary, but you can see that the artists were allowed to try for art. This was a big playground, and everyone was learning the rules.
An Influence Despite Everything
I think one of the most fascinating aspects of the film is that it’s had an influence far beyond its prestige. Its stronger imagery stays with you, and many of the concepts are beautiful extensions of a science-fiction embrace of the impossible. This was created in a time when the average viewer didn’t fancy themselves a scientific expert and hold court with their friends to prove the extent of their perceived knowledge.
They went along for the ride. Well, I like just going along for the ride. If I’m going to buy something as absurd as what Marvel®™© movies have served in the present day, let’s go back to something with more thematic content than what the sausage factory likes to spit out every couple of months.
It’s a time when science-fiction creators, on the whole, hadn’t become bogged down with anything more weighty than telling a good story. You can see elements of the original Star Trek series in here, with a lusty embrace of the impossibly bizarre for the sake of exploring themes.
In essence, this is a work that acknowledges what’s unknowable and enjoys the satisfying art of speculation. Perhaps that’s why I want a remake. I want to have someone go back and recapture the essence of this era in film when everything felt boundless.
For a mediocre film, it creates more of an impression than a lot of Oscar®©™ winners I’ve seen. It’s worth a solid remake just for that.