Film review

Vincent on the bridge of the Palomino
A search of the internet turns up several reviews of The Black Hole, including rumours of a 2012 remake from the director of the Disney's Tron: Legacy, itself a reboot of 1982's movie Tron.

In my view the best review comes from retrocinema, which is both charming and critical of the movie with many interesting facts to boot.

Interesting facts about the film

The Black Hole is often regarded as a Star Wars 'rip-off' but it was actually in development ahead of the release of Star Wars in 1977. Over 3.6 million US dollars (at 1977 prices) were spent developing the script for Space Probe One - as The Black Hole was then titled - before filming even began. 

The opening credits for The Black Hole featured the longest CGI (computer generated imagery)  animation in any film up to that date, showing the view point of an object descending into a 'wire frame' black hole.

The 'hauntingly repetitive' score written by John Barry was the first film soundtrack to be digitally recorded and was released on remastered CD for the first time in 2011.

Disney developed its own computer controlled camera system (Automated Camera Effects System or ACES) when Lucas' Industrial Light and Magic became unreasonable about renting their Dykstraflex system to their rival studio. Disney's system was superior and was able to scan a matte painting with the same camera motion used to shoot the miniatures. This was an essential inivation as The Black Hole showcased an unprecedented number of matte painting effects shots - more than Star Wars and The Empire Strikes Back combined.

The Cygnus bridge, The Black Hole
Following the release of Star Wars, Disney sped up production on The Black Hole, with the vision of appealing to older children and teenagers. The Black Hole, Disney's first film to attract a PG rating for the bloodless evisceration of Alex Durrant, started a trend that eventually led to a split in Disney Studios - with Touchstone Pictures spun off to deal with adult film themes.

During development and production Disney were paranoid that their 'worm hole' themed project would be undermined by another studio using the same story element in a inferior, rival production; making it to theatres first. The result was that the special effects department became like closed studio, isolated from production, with communication between the two kept to a minimum. The project was top secret with 20 million US dollars at stake!

Many film critics and audience members felt that the story was confused - which wasn't helped by the fact that the ending of the film was so top secret that when filming started it hadn't even been written!

Peter Ellenshaw was nominated for an Oscar for special effects but the films design didn't save it from one thing that Disney didn't see coming. Just two weeks before the film opened, Paramount Studios dusted off their old science fiction television series, launching a film franchise that would run to the current day with so far ten films, 4 television series and even the launch of a new TV network: Gene Roddenberry's Star Trek: The Motion Picture.

Behind the scenes

Pre-Production / Concept Art and Production Photos for the film, including a number of concept drawings for V.I.N.CENT are also available online.


Pictures: (Top right) V.I.N.CENT and (Bottom left) the bridge of the USS Cygnus
 from Disney's The Black Hole, available on DVD.