* * 1/2
The Black Hole–released in 1979–comes with the rifts of a “biblical dilemma” as well as the prospect of seeing the cinematic vision of a black hole!
Expectation pulled me into this film while it was pulling the cast in as well. As it built up to the moment of ‘being there’ in the black hole, it is quietly mind-boggling, from a purely visual perspective. I don’t know how the cast felt.
In the beginning of The Black Hole, the crew of the spacecraft, the USS Palomino – featuring actors Robert Forster (Captain Dan Holland), Joseph Bottoms (Lieutenant Charles Pizer), Anthony Perkins (Dr Alex Durant), Yvette Mimieux (Dr Kate McCrae) and Ernest Borgnine (journo Harry Booth) – parks by the Cygnus, which is a ship situated on the outer rim of a black hole.
The crew board and nose around the ship, see numbers of interesting robotic machines in service (some of which graduated to merchandising status), and interact with the not so reliable captain, Dr. Hans Reinhardt (Maximillian Schell), who is deliberately disobeying orders to go back to earth.
Reinhardt does not need any encouraging as his goal is to find ultimate knowledge by diving into the black hole. The problem comes with being hell-bent on acquiring “ultimate knowledge”. For what? Does one want to use it for egomaniac purposes? There is a danger here. Reaching the ultimate is a recipe for disaster, but is destined to fall short. Reinhardt is bound to be disappointed. The crew of the USS Palomino scramble to escape the ever-increasing megalomaniac bent on getting what he shouldn’t and the audience reached for their popcorn.
Director Gary Nelson and writers Jeb Rosebrook and Jerry Day may not have known or may have known they were carrying the theme of temptation and desire. Reinhardt is being offered the primal temptation, which was offered to Adam and Eve — eat of the fruit God forbids and you will know just as God does, which if they did, would lead to their downfall. They were offered ultimate knowledge!
It comes as a warning. Ultimate knowledge belongs to God only. Resist the temptation to have ultimate knowledge because you will not and trying is futile. Know your place.
The action heats up when Reinhardt summons his ship into the black hole, climaxing with some explosive and spectacular special effects good for the time. While I am slightly intrigued, Reinhardt is bound to be let down. The thing I wanted more of is popcorn.
The safe way is to choose to go back to earth and look after each other and the planet well, as God commanded.