Sun Ra: Space Is the Place (1974)
News & Interviews for Sun Ra: Space Is the Place
Critic Reviews for Sun Ra: Space Is the Place
It's standard blaxploitation settings and elements -- crime fighters and criminals, pimps and hookers, a pool hall and a brothel -- but the presence of the Outer Space Employment Agency makes it extraordinary.
Space Is the Place has more than a few hokey moments, but it also illuminates Ra's work. For him, outer space wasn't just a gimmick or a convenient source of song titles. It was a zone where racism was inoperative.
Its lighthearted surrealist high jinks, dressed up with SF trappings and black-power rhetoric, make for pleasant enough viewing, but the music seems strictly incidental.
There could have been more music, but this version of Space Is the Place is 20 minutes longer than the one issued in the early '90s on VHS and includes home movie footage of Sun Ra's 1972 Egyptian concert in the shadow of the pyramids.
Not that it's a bad film, but perhaps only true Sun Ra devotees, and those hoping to learn more about the artist would only really appreciate it.
Audience Reviews for Sun Ra: Space Is the Place
An interesting "black power", psychedelic, funky, space movie. I didn't know what to think of it.
A true underground classic. Witness: not-of-this-earth music, the funky righteousness of Ra, cinematic excellence and be prepared to alter your destiny. I'd heard good (and bad) things about this film, so my curiosity was peaked. Usually when very strong reactions are evoked of such diametric opposition, it can only mean one thing: Great Art. This movie is truly mind blowing. I can think of nowhere else, where one can obtain: Sci-Fi, Blaxplotation, Philosophy, Space Jazz, and dynamite costumes in one easy-to-swallow capsule. I highly recommend this to Sun Ra fans and those with an interest in fine Avant Garde films. Sun Ra is truly an enigma, and in excellent form in this movie. See him battle the devil across many dimensions and get ready for transmolecularization and isotope teleportation...
"If you find earth boring, just the same old story, you can sign up for Outer Space Ways Incorporated!"
Hilariously bad at times, but also kind of amazing. "Fear of A Black Planet", as the "Public Enemy" reference goes, is kinda the jumping point ...(read more) for this movie, about an interglatic Jazz keyboardist named Sun Ra(who really used to perform, and speak like this), trying to start a new planet (or mythology), for Black People, based on budget Egyptian costumes, sci-fi lyricism, and Jazz music.
At one point the agents of the Overseer(the anti-Sun Ra, whose name is a plantation reference), capture Ra, and incapacitate him by tying him up, and making him listen to...horror of horrors... Big Band music...
If nothing else it's got an Awesome soundtrack, in fact performances by Sun Ra, and his band, puncuate most scenes, making it a wierd combo of performance, and sc-fi (think Nashvillle, about one guy, bad) but not "blacksploitation", which referes to films, made by whites, about and staring blacks with an emphasis on stereotypes, but little to no real political or social content like "Shaft" , or "Dolemite" ,"The Mack", or the best "Coffy", this is more like "Sweet Sweetbacks' Badass Song"...or "The Spook Who Stood By The Door", which are scincere and genuine documents of there time, both pretty bad too.
But the best of the bad, is "Space Is The Place" it has all the stereotypes you find in blacksploitation films of the 70s, but pushed to absurd, mythic, and mystic levels.
Drunk: My man, what's happenin?
Sun Ra: Everything is happenin.
Drunk: What is this... I mean what... where am I? Who is you?
Sun Ra: I am everything, and nuthin.
Drunk: Nuthin? Well you betta tell me about this nuthin stuff, cause, uh, I need a job. I... I don't know what to do.
Sun Ra: What have you been doin lately?
Drunk: Uh huh uh, nuthin, really, nuthin.
Sun Ra: How long have you been doing nuthin?
Drunk: Quite some time. Quite some time.
Sun Ra: You must be an expert at it.
Drunk: Got my B.A., ya see.
Sun Ra: We'll hire you to do that.
Drunk: How much I get paid, man?
Sun Ra: Nuthin.
Drunk: Nuthin? NUTHIN? I got to have sumthin so I can get me anotha bottle. I can't go for that shit!
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