Todays Key Movie:
“Enemies because they were taught to be,
allies because they had to be,
brothers because they dared to be.”
Today we are discussing the Wolfgang Petersen Cult Classic: Enemy Mine. Enemy Mine is a Science Fiction film that stars Dennis Quaid and Louis Gossett Jr as enemies who become friends out of necessity but eventually become family out of experience.
The movie follows Willis Davidge (Quaid), who is a pilot in an interstellar war with a race known as the Dracs. He crash lands on a planet far from his team where he meets up with Drac Pilot Jerba ‘Jerry’ Shigan (Gossett). At first they are sworn blood enemies but, as time goes on, they are forced to work together to survive and, eventually, become great friends. A lot more happens of course, but I won’t spoil it for you.
Why this movie?
There were a lot of Science Fiction movies released in the 80’s, many of which I will eventually discuss here. Many of them were amazing epics, others… not so much. This one was unique to me in that, while set up as a sci fi film, at its heart it was really a social commentary about finding common ground and settling our differences with others. It was, in a nutshell, a story about overcoming racism or, really, overcoming any kind of hate.
In the film, both Willis and Jerba hate one another at the start. This is due to a misunderstanding between the two races. As per the movie, in the latter half of the 21st century, when the Human race went out to explore space, they found another group of beings had the same idea and, of course, they went to war. The movie doesn’t explore the history of this conflict but it doesn’t need to. By the start of the film, the war has gone on so long that most humans and Dracs have never even laid eyes on one another. The thing to know is that they hate one another for no other reason than they want the same thing.
When both Willis and Jerba are stranded on the same planet, they soon realize that they have to work together to survive and, eventually, learn one another’s language and customs forever changing their view of each other’s people. This event shows them both that, deep inside, they are really not very different. Like the old saying goes, difference is only skin deep.
Although it was considered a box office failure, Enemy Mine is an important film in cinematic history. Not only was it a well produced sci fi, it conveyed the need for people to work together no matter what they looked like and where they were from.
How did this translate to real life?
I don’t remember when I saw this film exactly. I know I didn’t see it in the theater, even though it was heavily marketed, so it is likely I first saw it on VHS. I distinctly remember watching it with my Father though. My Father was a man who taught us to not only accept but to celebrate our differences. He was welcoming of all people, no matter where they were from and these lessons he taught in my youth still carry me forward to this day. It’s movies like this that reinstate that feeling and realization that we, as a species, have a chance at harmony one day. Hopefully others watch it and see what I saw in its story. At the very least I hope they find a fun film that they enjoy.
We can learn a lot from this film. In our current times lessons like this are needed more than ever. Sadly it takes more than just two people being trapped together to fix our larger problems. But it’s a start right?
Okay, you like this film, but is it really a ‘good film’?
Yes, most definitely. Although it was a box office failure, it has become a cult hit and has earned its place in the history of Science Fiction films. The production value is very high and the acting is top notch. Even the special effects were incredibly done for the time period. Using practical effects, it really makes the film look crisp and real, even today. This is a movie that can certainly be considered timeless. Dennis Quaid and Louis Gossett Jr are both amazing in it, both actors were in their prime at the time and man they did a fantastic job.
Unironically this movie would be ‘revisited’ in other forms of scifi including the astonishing 1991 Star Trek The Next Generation episode Darmok. Darmok involves Picard in a similar circumstance and ends up being one of the most beloved episodes of the series.
OK, where do I get this movie?
This movie is available on both streaming services, bluray and DVD. You can pick up a copy for around $10 in most places and I can not recommend it enough. You might be able to stream it on youtube as well.
Here you can get a DVD copy for $8. http://preview.tinyurl.com/yaxkgz87
If you can find a copy, I recommend the Bluray copy as the transfer is terrific.
This is by far one of my favorites and I hope you get a chance to see this film. It’s quite a good one.
The Original Theatrical Trailer:
Thanks for reading, many more key movies to come. If you would like to read others in this series of posts please check out my previous entries with The BeastMaster (http://wp.me/p93it6-oQ) and The Last Starfighter (http://wp.me/p93it6-n8), as always, please feel free to comment below and share your experiences with these movies as well. If you just happend by, please tell me what you think!
Late To The Game 10/4/17