It was Rod Serling who pointed out the opportunity science fiction offered to the writer with a message. "Words that dare not be said by a Republican or a Democrat can easily be voiced by a Martian," he declared. And so much of our best science fiction has been able to convey deep truths through the cloak of mere diversion. Think of the anguished pleas for racial harmony Charlton Heston beseiged us with in SOYLENT GREEN, calling attention to how our hatred made us literally eat one another, and reminding us that the great truth of society is, "PEOPLE! IT'S MADE OUT OF PEOPLE!!!" Even the densest of personalities could surely see THE ROCKY HORROR PICTURE SHOW as the symbolic struggle for England's future as the power play between Dr. Frankenfurter and his servants stands as extended metaphor for the upheaval of the decadent bourgeoisie by the even more decadent working class, as Brad and Janet--i.e. America--stand by helplessly waiting for the winner.
Nevertheless, on January 14, 2000, I attended the opening night of the film SUPERNOVA, expecting merely another space opera with pretty lighting and cool gizmos. Imagine my surprise to find a compelling treatise on the need for responsible sexual behavior, both now and in the distant future!
The movie opens with the crew of a medical rescue vessel called the Nightengale, in a comfortable state of leisure. Two lower officers, Lou Diamond Phillips and Robin Tunney, are introduced to us as being in a healthy, monogamous relationship. Later on, they will fill out an application for permission to engage in childbirth. Already we are presented with a utopian ideal--parents who do not bring life into the world until they are physically and emotionally ready, and can produce the proper paperwork to prove it. At the same time, newly-joined lieutenant James Spader attempts wooing lead medical officer Angela Bassett. At first, she is justifiably suspcious of him, as he is recovering from addiction to a futuristic hallucinogen called "hazen." (Get it, it puts you in a haze. Damned clever!) We will later discover a former abusive lover was also addicted to the drug. But she is a doctor, and quickly ascertains he has not only a body, but a soul that must heal, and soon they also join together in love. On board also is Wilson Cruz, a seeming odd man out, who fills the void by reprogramming the ship computer with a female voice and fuzzy logic, and nicknaming it "sweetie." While a layman would see this as a sign of desperation and loneliness, it is the thinking viewer who reasons that a computer program is ultimately an extension of one's own personality. Thus the computer serves as a manifestation of his feminine side, and they live in comfortable co-existence. It is a love affair with oneself essentially, but was it not Whitney Houston who proclaimed learning to love oneself was the greatest love of all?
The peaceable status quim is soon shattered when, in answering a distress call by hyperwarping, the ship is damaged, physically by the warp, and spiritually by the caller, Peter Facinelli. He is a handsome man with that MIAMI VICE beard shadow that, in our hearts, never went out of style. Facinelli purports to be the son of Basset's dangerous ex, and claims to have been abandoned by his friends on a barren mining planet. Facinelli, when analyzed, is found to have increased regeneration powers, as if growing younger and stronger by the minute. And he brings with him a mysterious object that had been buried within the deepest gully of the mine. Initially, no one, not even the computer, can discern the origin or purpose of the vaguely vulvic-shaped object, but it and its porter quickly disrupt affairs on the ship. Phillips finds himself repeatedly drawn to it, to touch it intensely--not without being noticed by Spader, who sternly admonishes, "You've been playing with it, haven't you." At the same time, the handsome Facinelli incites Tunney to infidelity, only to cast her out into space when finished. Bassett finally learns the object is a ninth-dimension interstellar bomb meant to either destroy entire planets and stars, or strengthen them after its matter bonds with them. And Facinelli is not the son of her ex, but the actual ex, made younger, stronger, and more dangerous by his contact with the volatile object, who has in fact killed his previous crew, and sets out to do the same with her ship, in the worst case of romantic stalking this side of Alpha Centauri. I don't dare give away the clever manner in which Facinelli is given his comeuppance, but I will say if there's anyone who's got a history of getting the upper hand by appealing to a man's jealousy, it's James Spader!
Can't ya see it? The bomb is woman! Who among us has not felt younger and more powerful after contact with a good woman? It tempts Phillips away from true love. It drives Facinelli to destroy others who would take it away from him, makes him cocky enough to steal other women and attempt to regain those lost before. And by its nature, the bomb destroys life or strengthens it. Isn't that not the nature of female?
The moral imperative of SUPERNOVA is clear: Space poon is nothing but trouble!!!
Supernova - Bande annonce VO by _Caprice_
In short, there may be 100 films to symbolize the best of the 20th century, but when it comes time to itemize the 21st, a good film theoretician must acknowledge SUPERNOVA in their research!
(retract tongue, search Blue Shield guide for good mental counselor)