Sunday, 2 February 2014

black hole or all light is mute amid the gloom

Sadly, accomplished Austrian actor Maximilian Schell (* 1930, † 2014) passed away over the weekend, and taking time to review his expansive list of roles on stage, screen and air, I saw that one of his credits included the megalomaniacal foil in the 1979 Disney production of the film Black Hole—which was an all-around provoking psychedelic performance for a little kid to see, and reflected on the bizarre nature of that movie. Critic and veteran blogger John Muir gives an excellent dissection of the film's brilliance—from a Manichean gauntlet of good and evil to the subtle departure of sentient robots earning souls. Doctor Reinhardt (Schell) even in the final scenes in the inferno of the event horizon (the concept having recently been discounted by the physicists that originally championed the idea) is fused with the sinister robot, Maximilian. The character was portrayed with Schell's signature passion—and the story is really a Heart of Darkness writ small. The summary and analysis got me thinking about how affecting such cinematic experiences could be, more so than the better-known contemporary block-busters that over-shadowed this movie, like the Star Wars or the Star Trek franchises, and saw me often retreat to the sandbox in the backyard to rehearse what kind of ceremony was fitting for that heat-death of the universe that I had heard about, rather than the more imminent threats of global-thermal nuclear war.
There were a lot of singular influences, like the anime feature Galaxy Express 999 (1978), where an orphaned little boy shuns technology promising immortality by having ones memories but not emotions transferred to robotic vessels, plus also other Disney productions, which discounting all fairy tales, were not really made for young audiences, like the Witch Mountain (1975) series, about telekinetic extra-terrestrial children on the lamb from the government, or Bedknobs and Broomsticks (1971, compare to the Narnia or the Middle Earth sagas) which is a story about coping with evacuation during the Blitz of London during WWII and a sorceress defeats the Nazi invasion. Formative, I am grateful that kids' entertainment was not handled with kid-gloves and subject to censor and psychologists.