Starring: Maximilian Schell, Anthony Perkins, Robert Forster, Ernest Borgnine, Yvette Mimieux, Tom McLoughlin
Directed by: Gary Nelson
Written By: Jeb Rosebrook, Gerry Day
Rating: PG (US) Running Time: 1 hr 37 min
Released just in time for Christmas back in 1979, The Black Hole was certainly not filled with holiday cheer, and definitely not your typical Disney movie. Set in deep space, staring at the event horizon of a large black hole, this film is part space adventure, and part philosophical debate. A journey into the mind of a megalomaniac scientist, Dr. Hans Reinhardt (Maximilian Schell), as he plans to captain his ship of soulless androids into the black hole, and beyond.
To be honest, I’ve never been all that interested in the more fantastical conclusions this movie makes, though I do appreciate how controversial it must have been at the time. A Disney movie proposing that a biblical scale judgment awaits those traveling into a black hole? That’s quite something, especially considering the record production costs at the time. A depiction of heaven and hell is certainly not what you’d expect from a movie trying to cash in on people’s interest in space adventure movies, after the success of Star Wars.
The Black Hole is one of my all time favorite movies, and I enjoy revisiting it at least once a year. I love Maximilian Schell’s creepy performance, and John Barry’s fantastic score. The movie has a great ominous tone, but also manages to include some nice moments of humor and action. It’s true the visual effects haven’t aged all that well, and wires can clearly be seen helping some androids get around, but on the plus side, the film’s matte paintings, space effects and blaster battles still look great.
Some of the visual effects have dated quite badly. You will need to look past that if you want to get the most out of this film. Focus on the tone, story and characters. While this is a space adventure film, I doubt children will enjoy its slower pace and darker themes.
As of December 2014, Disney have not released a HD version of this film. It would be nice if they released a re-worked blu-ray with the more blatantly obvious wire work taken out. At the moment though you’ll have to make do with a regular dvd. If your local theater screens this film, certainly try to see this on the big screen. If only to enjoy John Barry’s score played over the theater sound system.
At the very top of all the things I love about this movie, is John Barry’s score.