Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
Dark Star is a 1973 motion picture directed by John Carpenter and co-written with Dan O'Bannon. Although destined for eventual release in 1974, this was only possible as a consequence of a successful series of showings at a number of film festivals in 1973. The film was too short at 68 minutes, and an additional fifteen minutes were shot for cinematic release. O'Bannon also stars in the film in the role of Pinback, the whiny, frustrated janitor.
Four lonely, stoned hippy astronauts are adrift in space, have several adventures and find various ways to relieve their boredom. The film also features an encounter with a large orange-red web-footed inflatable beachball alien of the entirely unconvincing variety. The genre of the film is essentially one of science-fiction comedy and despite some of its 'low budget' special effects, it is often seen as seminal, a forerunner of the Alien series. This isn't surprising, since Dan O'Bannon later wrote the script for the first Alien. Carpenter described it, tongue in cheek, as "Waiting for Godot in space".
It is also singled out as an example of "philosophy in the cinema" on account of the "talking bomb" sequence, where a strategy to prevent the unintended detonation of a renegade onboard explosive device is devised based upon teaching the bomb the rudiments of phenomenalism (with amusingly unexpected results). Another key interpretational theme is the caricature of the Vietnam War legacy of 'mischief emerging from tedium' among military types on long uneventful missions.
- IMDB entry Dark Star (1974)
- Dark Star at theofficialjohncarpenter.com
- Fan site with lyrics to the theme song "Benson, Arizona"
Dark Star is the title of the following musical works:
- A song by the Grateful Dead - see "The Dark Star Document" http://www.deadlists.com/dlsite/dark_star.txt
- The second movement (track 2) of Mike Oldfield's Tubular Bells II
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