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    Sun Ra – Space is the Place

    Sun Ra - Space is the Place

    Space is the Place is easily one of the most amazing songs, albums, and movies of the 1970s. Lensed in ’72 and released a couple of years later, the film version tells the story of a transcendent spaceman and master musician named Sun Ra, whose life’s mission is to be the savior of the black race. The opening footage introduces the music-powered Ra Ship–which looks for all the world like a couple of conjoined twin flame-tipped sperms–as it gently cruises through space toward a planet Sun Ra has recently discovered. There, in a surrealistic Garden of Eden, Sun Ra reveals his plans to re-locate the black race far from the oppression and chaos of planet Earth to live together in harmony on this new sphere.

    Flash back to 1943, when Sun Ra’s discordant piano playing causes a massive riot at a nightclub, which results in two men left sitting: Sun Ra and a pimp, hustler and con man known as The Overseer (a black man who secretly works for the establishment). In numerous scenes peppered throughout the rest of the film, these two characters engage in a game of cards to determine the fate of the black race: freedom or oppression under the thumb of the powers that be. Flash forward to the early ’70s, when Sun Ra lands his spaceship in spectacular fashion in front of an army of media–complete with a bizarre display of otherworldly pageantry. To attract a wider audience to his cause, he then tries to recruit a group of black youth at a rec room, opens an Outer Space Employment Agency and releases albums of his music.

    For his efforts, Sun Ra gets chased by government agents, who want to put an end to the mission and back-engineer his arcane spaceship technology to use for their own needs. Along the way, a subplot—which Sun Ra found irrelevant and deleted from the original version of the film—shines a light on the dark side of the Overseer’s life, including a generous helping of naughty nurses, pimps and hos, and sex and violence. We’re also treated to some wonderful, live concert footage of Sun Ra and his Intergalactic Solar Arkestra. During this gig, the government agents attempt to assassinate Sun Ra, which leads up to the climactic battle with The Overseer.

    The bonus section includes some nice vintage footage of Sun Ra and the Arkestra traipsing around the pyramids and other locations during a 1970s-era European tour, plus an interview with producer Jim Newman and director John Coney. As usual with Plexifilm, the DVD comes packaged inside a classy 12-page booklet full of liner notes and stills that nicely wraps up this classic combination of blaxploitation, cheesy ’50s science fiction and surreal psychedelia. Overall, this film, like the liner notes say, “conveys the sense of loss, fear, confusion of national purpose and fantastic hope (in place of political revolution) that the Nixon Presidential administration provoked in America.”

    Label: Plexifilm Catalog Number: 010 Format: DVD Packaging: Plastic case Total Time: 82 minutes Country: United States Released: 2003 More: Amazon, Official, Wikipedia, YouTube

    Text ©2009 Arcane Candy

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