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.