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January 10, 1980 - Image 7

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Michigan Daily, 1980-01-10

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

'Black Hole' left

in the void

The Michigan Daily-Thursday, January 10, 1980-Page 7
Super Specials on AGFA,
THE FAMOUS GERMAN PHOTOGRAPHIC PAPER

By CHRISTOPHER POTTER
Ann Arbor is currently graced by
several sterling examples of what, for
want of better terminology, I must label
the Slothful Film. SFs are defined by
their creators' tendency, either through
subliminal inexpertise or blatant
cynicism, to put all their cinematic
eggs in one basket - to bank on a single
element in their film to lure in the
public at the expense of superfluous
items like a cohesive plot, logical
* haracterizations and other such
nuisances.
Stridently foremost among the
current crop of SFs is The Black Hole,
which represents the Walt Disney
gang's much-ballyhooed effort to "go
mainstream" - i.e., a science fiction
format, a space-age budget, a PG
rating instead of the customary G (A
cast member gets chewed up by a robot
propeller blade, earlier on a female
protagonist says "damn!" It's an open
uestion which constituted the more
aboo offense).
Sadly, this "historic metamorphosis"
proves all surface veneer. For all its
wizardly gadgetry, The Black Hole is
nothing more than a non-animated car-
toon in the hoariest Disney tradition, a
slick package for the holidays guaran-
teed to provide the identical aesthetic
effect as a frontal lobotomy.
THROUGH THE dark outer reaches
Of space cruise two space ships, hur-
tling ever nearer an unexpected ren-
dezvous. In a lightning-quick plot ex-
position (spanning about two and a half
minutes), we learn that the smaller
craft, the search ship Palomino, carries
six humans plus an adorable robot
named Vincent (complete with body lif-
ted from R2D2 and British-tongued per-
sonality carped from C3PO). Housed in
the larger ship, the Cignuev. is Dr. Hans
Reinhardt, a brilliant but
eglomaniacal scientist whose craft
4isappeared on a mission into deep'
space some twenty years ago.
It seems Dr. Reinhardt has perched
himself on the edge of his life's dream
- that most quixotic and dreaded of all
stellar anomalies: A black hole. To the
astonishment and consternation of his
new visitors, the good doctor plans to
imminently plunge his ship straight in-
to the unfathomable void in a quest for
ruth, metaphysical knowledge,
erhaps immortality.
IT ALL APPEARS to be a brave and
noble undertaking, yet it soon becomes
evident that all is not what it seems

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If the technological lure of the special effects is captivating enough to lure you to a movie, you'll find Walt Disney's new
production "The Black Hole" suitably astounding. Unfortunately, that's about all there is to the film.

aboard the all-robot-powered c:gnus.
Many of its cyborg crew carry them-
selves in a disturbingly human manner,
giving rise to the thought that maybe
the ship's original crew didn't perish as
Reinhardt said they did. Perhaps they
met with a far grislier death and tran-
sfiguration ...
Such are the basics of a plot which,
building upon such bare-bones struc-
ture, could have provided a juicy
measure of spine-tingling fun. Unfor-
tunately, bare bones are all screen-
writers Jeb Rosebrook and Gerry Day
ever provide us. The Black Hole is so
determinedly lame-brained that its
potential for amusement is all but
strangled in a kind of loose-ends
sillyness. It's a shame, because a great
deal (though not all) of the film's
technical side is so spectacular that The
Black Hole might have proved an un-
forgettable experience had its writers
provided just a wee bit of intellectual
grist to mix it with. Sadly, the complete
absence of thought and wit both
cheapens the genre and cheats its
audience. What's the good of staging
the second coming if there's nobody
around but Yogi Bear to appreciate it?
ALAS, YOGI Beardom is about ps
profound an aesthetic as this film ever
achieves. Of course, human beings
have never been Disney's strong point,
and this particular crew could have

A2 police investigate
fraternity cat-killing
a e

come straigh' from a Xerox copy
machine. The acting, by Maximilian
Schell as the mad doctor and Anthony
Perkins, Rbert Forster, Earnest
Borgnine, Yette Mimieux and Joseph
Bottoms a his victims-to-be, is so
wretched hat every line they utter
seems to lave a double entendre writ-
ten into it Observe the following dinner
table conersation:
Schell; "If the data (pause) on my
returnirg probe ship matches my com-
puterizd calculations., (long pause) I
shall travel where no man has dared to
go. (Siiister stare at the others)
Perlins (Eyes twitching nervously):
"Intothe (gulp) . . . black hole?"
Sclell: "In, (long pause) ... (Long-
er Ouse) ... and beyond!" (Trium-
phatt leer).
Borgnine (long double take): "Why,
that's crazy!" (pause) Hah! (snicker,
roled eyeballs) Impossible!"
Schell (chillingly): "Impossible'
(long pause) is a word to be found in a
dictionary for (longest pause) fools!"
(spat out witheringly.)
SUCH PROFUNDITIES abound,
from the moment Schell first croons
"Are you interested in black holes?"
"He's as cuckoo as a Swiss clock,"
navigator Bottoms mutters. "That
madman is heading straight for the
black hole!" Borgnine shrieks. "If
there's any justice at all, the black hole
will be your grave!" rants Mimieux at
Schell. "I Would have known he was all
talk andjno uts!", observes stolid cap-
ta Forster after the treacherous
Borgnine attempts an abortive takeoff
with the Palomino..
If this dim pageant was played stric-
tly for camp merriment, The Black
Hole migit have maintained a certain
logical, i not ethical, consistency. Yet
both the east and director Gary Nelson
seem to e taking things just seriously
enough to leave themselves in an
aesthetic limbo so embarrassing that it
may prove difficult to regard any of
these performers in a serious artistic
light again.
Which leaves us with the special ef-
fects, ut;erly alone, to carry us through
this drab film. It proves an impossible
assignnent, yet The Black Hole's sole
wonderment lies in just how far its
technical wizardry manages to remove
us from our mundane world. Not sur-
prisingly for Disney, the film's robots
operate on an almost entirely separate
plane from its humans, and come off
far more effectively. A running duel
between the whimsical Vincent and an
evil tietallic monstrosity named
Maximilian is quite enthralling, while
the rest of the cyborgs carry them-
selves with a charm and unpredic-
tability that quite outdoes their human
couiterparts.
Reinhardt's ship cYgnus proves the
crowning career glory of longtime
Pisney artist Peter Ellenshaw - a fan-
tastic multi-lit space-borne castle
looking straight out of Gustav Dore's
floating seaship from "The Rhyme of

the Ancient Mariner." Complete with
Kremlin-like turrets, labyrinthian in-
ner workings and a kaleidoscopic
casino-tinged master control room, the
c:vg num fulfills with wondrous verve
one's childhood longings for a palatial
never-never land. The black hole itself
is conceived not as a spacious void but
as a swirling, seething swarthy-red
cauldron ready to swallow up wayward
boys and girls. When we finally venture
into the cauldron's secrets, the trip
proves a mad visual spectacular, even
if it also turns out to be a bit
philosophically conventional.
It is all quite gloriously out of this
world, playing to the fullest the film
medium's capacity to counteract the
ordinary and the turgid. Yet consigned
with us side by side on this trip are all
those ruinously dull protagonists,
vacuous nerds who don't deserve such a
mind trip. They couldn't distinguish a
supernova from a popgun if it hit them
square in the face.
Apostles should really be made of
more metaphysical stuff, as should
competent science fiction scripts. What
the Disney studio has slothfully done is
give us half a loaf, a half-hearted
foolishness which ultimately serves
neither science fiction nor motion pic-
tures one interstellar whit.
MASTERS AND DOCTOR
OF PHILOSOPHY DEGREES
IN NUCLEAR ENGINEERING
Financial aid is available for En i-
neering and Science Majors for
graduate study in Nuclear Engineer-
ing, Fusion, and Health Pnysics.
Graduate Research and Teaching
Assistantship stipends range from
$5800 to $10,200 per year plus out-
of-state tuition waiver.
President's Fellowships for outstand-
ing applicants provide a stipend of
$5000 per year plus full tuition waiver.
For information write: Director,
School of Nuclear Engineering,
Georgia Institute of Technology,
Atlanta, Georgia 30332.

UNIVERSITY OF MICHIGAN
318 S. State St., Ann Arbor-761 -2011
2755 Plymouth Road Mall, Ann Arbor-761-8690

WE'RE A
PR
DEALER'

W a (Continued from Page 1)
city attorney.
"A large number of people are con-
fident they know the individuals in-
volved, but hearsay-third-hand infor-
mation-is inadissable in court," he
added.
THE INCIDENT occurred Dec. 6.
Several members of the fraternity cut
the paws from the house pet, strung it
a tree, and set the animal on fire
Wecause, a house member said, it would
not use the litter box.
S"He was shitting all over the place
and should have been removed," said
one house member yesterday. "But not
in that way," he hastily added.
The incident has caused an -uproar.
Local authorities have been plagued
with phone calls, telegrams, and letters
condemning the act and demanding
prosecution.
THE FRATERNITY is maintaining,
* low profile but members voiced
disapproval at the actions of some of its
members.
"It's the most deplorable thing I've
ever seen," said one member who
refused to identify himself.
Because the act was committed on
private property, the University does
not have the authority to suspend the
individuals involved.
A SPOKESWOMAN for Alpha Delta
chi International in Evanston, Illinois
said she feels the situation has been
blown out of proportion because the
guilty belonged to the Greek system.
"If this incident had occurred in a
dorm dr apartment, this volume of ex-
citement would not be generated," said
Terri Eastmade, assistant executive
secretary. "The bad feelings of the
1960s (towards fraternities) will be ac-
centuated even more after this
situation.,,
A possible solution to avoid future
similar incidents is the establishment

of a judiciary committee on the Frater-
nity Coordinating Council (FCC), ac-
cording to Chris Carlsen, consultant of
the University's Student Organization
Activities and Programs.

is preserved on
Umm TMROF LR
The Michigan Daily
420 Maynard Street
AND
Graduate Library

4~
' , 4

W. C. FIELDS in

1940

THE BANK DICK
W. C. FIELDS does his best to hold down a job but stunts as bank guard
and film director leave a dry taste in his mouth. He, of course, heads for
the bar of his choice to consider fuiure prospects.
JAN. 11 (Fri.): Capra'sYOU CAN'T TAKE IT WITH YOU
JAN. 12 (Sat.) MarxBros. in A DAY AT THE RACES
JAN. 13'(Sun.): Chaplin's THE GREAT DICTATOR
JAN. 14 (Mo'.): Bergman's PERSONA
* Schedules now available at bookstores and Old Arch Aud. *

t
Book rush is never pleasant.
But Ulrich's can make it better. Just hand your course list to one of Ulrich's people,
and they'll get your books for you. While you're there, you can pick up
your other supplies, too; It won't cost you an arm and a leg, either. Give it a try.

-f

CINEMA GUILD

TONIGHT AT
7:00 & 9:05

Free Showing
OLD. ARCH. AUD.

MONDAY
GREEK NIGHT
! ! Frats-Sororitios, FREE
with proper I.D.

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