KLAATU YOU (47)
November 18, 2020
One in a weekly series of enthusiastic posts, contributed by HILOBROW friends and regulars, on the topic of our favorite pre-Star Wars science fiction movies.
SPACE IS THE PLACE | d. JOHN CONEY | 1974
Now, at the end of the world, is the perfect moment to revisit Space Is the Place, the first Afrofuturist film and avant-jazz musician Sun Ra’s belief-system-wrought-in-celluloid.
If you can, find Ra’s edit, not the longer, 82 minute one, which has more gratuitous/inexplicable sex and violence (especially gratuitous violence against women.) The film was assembled asynchronously and in unusual ways but can really be thought of as an early entry into the category of “visual album.” That’s what Ra wanted, it seems — textural fantasy elements interwoven with live concert footage — but the film’s producers tried to make the work more narrative and ended up relying on cheap strategies from the popular Blaxploitation genre of the time to do it. Try to ignore them when they intervene. Stick with the scenes that Ra is directly involved in. His speeches, costume, sounds, ways of being, his language chanted in song…
Equation-wise, the first thing to do is consider time officially ended.
Ra draws the Tarot card “Judgment” but instead of the usual winged trumpeter, the card bears an image of a spaceship shooting flames from two eye-like protrusions.
You’re music too, we’re all instruments. Everyone should be playing their part.
The spaceship, propelled by music, takes Black folx to a better place and blasts the Earth it leaves behind into two glowing chunks.
Planet Earth equals sound of guns, anger, frustration. There was no one to talk to on planet Earth that could understand. We’ll set up a new colony for Black people here. See what they can do on a planet all their own, without white people there.
Ra is inimitable. He may have been out of his mind, or he may have truly communed with alien beings in order to gain the cosmic understanding that guided his life and art for his last 50+ years on Earth. In either case, there is no question that he was 100% sincere in his belief that music, through its vibrations, can teleport African Americans to an “alter destiny.” The key is that it has to be the right time.
Not till the end of the world, don’t you know that?
KLAATU YOU: INTRODUCTION by Josh Glenn | Matthew De Abaitua on ZARDOZ | Miranda Mellis on METROPOLIS | Rob Wringham on THE INVISIBLE MAN | Michael Grasso on THE ANDROMEDA STRAIN | Gordon Dahlquist on 2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY | Erik Davis on DARK STAR | Carlo Rotella on THE OMEGA MAN | Madeline Ashby on KISS ME DEADLY | Adam McGovern on SILENT RUNNING | Michael Lewy on THIS ISLAND EARTH | Josh Glenn on WILD IN THE STREETS | Mimi Lipson on BARBARELLA vs. SINS OF THE FLESHAPOIDS | Vanessa Berry on THE FLY | Lynn Peril on ATTACK OF THE 50 FOOT WOMAN | Peggy Nelson on SOLARIS | Adrienne Crew on LOGAN’S RUN | Ramona Lyons on THE MAN WHO FELL TO EARTH | Kio Stark on THE STEPFORD WIVES | Dan Fox on FANTASTIC PLANET | Chris Lanier on IKARIE XB-1 | Devin McKinney on IDAHO TRANSFER | Mark Kingwell on THUNDERBIRDS ARE GO | Luc Sante on THE TENTH VICTIM | William Nericcio on DEATH RACE 2000 | Rob Walker on CAPRICORN ONE | Gary Panter on ANGRY RED PLANET | David Levine on THE STEPFORD WIVES | Karinne Keithley Syers on ALPHAVILLE | Carolyn Kellogg on IT CAME FROM OUTER SPACE | Sara Ryan on ESCAPE TO WITCH MOUNTAIN | Lisa Jane Persky on PLAN 9 FROM OUTER SPACE | Adam Harrison Levy on BENEATH THE PLANET OF THE APES | Gerald Peary on CREATURE FROM THE BLACK LAGOON | Susannah Breslin on A CLOCKWORK ORANGE | Seth on WAR OF THE WORLDS | James Hannaham on GOJIRA/GODZILLA | Lydia Millet on VILLAGE OF THE DAMNED | Matthew Daniel on FANTASTIC VOYAGE | Shawn Wolfe on ROLLERBALL | Erin M. Routson on WESTWORLD | Marc Weidenbaum on COLOSSUS: THE FORBIN PROJECT | Neil LaBute on 20,000 LEAGUES UNDER THE SEA | Vicente Lozano on DAY OF THE DOLPHIN | Tom Roston on SLAUGHTERHOUSE-FIVE | Katya Apekina on A BOY AND HIS DOG | Chelsey Johnson on THE BLOB | Heather Kapplow on SPACE IS THE PLACE | Brian Berger on THE BEAST FROM 20,000 FATHOMS | Anthony Miller on THE DAY THE EARTH STOOD STILL.
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