Dark Star (film)  

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Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel
Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel

Dark Star is a 1974 sci-fi tongue-in-cheek comedy motion picture directed by John Carpenter and co-written with Dan O'Bannon. It is the story of a space mission of three men to destroy unstable planets by bombing them. After, a bomb computer malfunction, a commander of the ship teaches the bomb the rudiments of phenomenology, resulting in a memorable philosophical conversation between the commander and the bomb.


In the middle of the 22nd century, mankind has reached a point in its technological advances to enable colonization of the far reaches of the universe. Armed with intelligent "Exponential Thermostellar Bombs", the scout ship Dark Star and its crew have been in space alone for twenty years on a mission to destroy "unstable planets" which might threaten future colonization.

Meanwhile, the ship's crew, consisting of Lt. Doolittle (who dreams of surfing back in Malibu), Sgt. Pinback, Boiler and Talby (who has become reclusive and spends all his time in the ship's dome). Their Commander, Powell, has died and exists only via cryogenic supports. The crew perform their jobs in a state of abject boredom as the tedium of their task has driven the crew up the wall.

Sgt. Pinback is really fuel engineer Bill Froog, who put on Pinback's space suit after failing to rescue Pinback from committing suicide by wading into a fuel tank before the mission. Fruge inadvertently takes the place of Pinback and adopts a ship's mascot in the form of a mischievous alien "beachball with claws" that refuses to stay put in the food locker and forces Pinback to chase it all over the ship.

The computer is malfunctioning, with parts of the ship burnt out and others simply blown up. After damage suffered in an asteroid storm, Thermostellar Bomb #20 threatens to detonate while still in the ship's bomb bay. The other crew members attempt to talk the bomb out of blowing up. Doolittle revives Commander Powell who advises them to teach the bomb the rudiments of phenomenology, resulting in a memorable philosophical conversation between Doolittle and the bomb. Bomb #20 retreats to the bomb bay for contemplation, and disaster seems to have been averted. Pinback addresses the bomb over the intercom to finally disarm it.

The bomb misinterprets Doolittle's phenomenology and believes itself to be God and explodes killing Pinback and Boiler instantly. Commander Powell is fired off into space encased in a large block of ice, Talby drifts off into the Phoenix Asteroids to die and circle the universe, and Doolittle surfs down to the unstable planet on a piece of debris to burn up in the atmosphere.

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