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Sun Ra: Space Is the Place (30th Anniversary Director's Cut) (1974)

Cast: Erika Leder, Barbara Deloney, Sun Ra
Director: John Coney, John Coney
    see all cast/crew...
Rating: Not Rated
Studio: Plexifilm
Genre: Science Fiction , Music Videos/Performance, Experimental/Avant-Garde, Musicals
Running Time: 82 min.
Languages: English
    see additional details...

Synopsis
Avant-garde jazz musician Sun Ra stars in the movie version of his concept album Space Is the Place. Not following a linear plot line, this experimental film is a bizarre combination of social commentary, blaxploitation, science fiction, and concert performance. The opening scene is set in an intergalactic forest, with Sun Ra introducing his plan to use music as salvation for the black community. Back on Earth, he wears a disguise as Sunny Ray, a piano player in a 1940s Chicago strip club who causes an explosion with his sounds. Switching to a scene in a desert, he plays a card game called "The End of the World," with the Overseer (Ray Johnson), who is dressed in white and drives a white Cadillac. Sun Ra pulls out a spaceship card and the Arkestra play the song "Calling Planet Earth" as their spaceship lands in Oakland, CA. Perpetually dressed in sparkling gold robes and headdresses, he sets out to save the black people from oppression. He visits a community center and sets up the Outer Space Employment Agency, occasionally switching back to the desert to continue his game with the Overseer. Eventually, Sun Ra gets kidnapped by two white guys and forced to listen to "Dixie" on headphones, but some kids from the community center save him just in time for the live concert conclusion. ~ Andrea LeVasseur, All Movie Guide

GreenCine Member Reviews

A confused mess, but you should see it to understand Ra by brakhage April 5, 2005 - 9:40 PM PDT
12345678910
3 out of 3 members found this review helpful
A truly bizarre and disjointed film, which makes attempts at being a blaxploitation movie, a B-movie science fiction picture, a performance document, and a philosophy lecture by a cult leader - and succeeds at none of them. In one of the extras on the DVD, the film's producer says that he was blown away by the Arkestra's live performances and wanted to get that energy on film. Once the director and Ra became involved, the decision was made to make a narrative film instead, which to me is a bit of disappointment - I think I would rather just have Ra and the gang do their thing on stage ...
That said, it's still a gas to watch Ra cruising down the street with his Egyptian-attired attendants, blowing up a strip club with his piano, or just spouting gnomic utterances. I'm sure that once the opportunity of being in a movie presented itself, Ra wanted to get as much of his cosmic black liberation message out as he could, which means that his fantastic music is often set aside in favor of Ra saying things like 'we live on the other side of time'. But there are some hilarious performances, like Christopher Brooks as the Channel Five-Jive journalist who's co-opted but climbs on the ship with Ra and company (well, the black part of him anyway) at the end. A fun film that's extremely dated and silly - but valuable because it shows Ra as reacting against the materialism and despair he saw around him.




GreenCine Member Rating
12345678910

(Average 7.56)
45 Votes
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© 2006 All Media Guide, LLC. Portions of content provided by All Movie Guide®, a trademark of All Media Guide, LLC.