The Black Hole

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Region 1 DVD for The Black Hole

The Black Hole is a 1979 science fiction movie directed for Walt Disney Productions by Gary Nelson. It stars Maximilian Schell, Robert Forster, Joseph Bottoms, Yvette Mimieux, Anthony Perkins, and Ernest Borgnine. The voices of the main robot characters in the film are provided by Roddy McDowall and Slim Pickens. The music for the movie was composed by John Barry. The plot was derived from 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea. Alan Dean Foster novelized the screenplay.

Apparently Disney's answer to Star Wars (though work on the film was already underway as early as 1975), at $20 million it was the most expensive picture produced by the company to date and the first to be given a PG rating, which was the source of additional controversy. It was not well received by critics, although the special effects and matte work were praised. The movie earned $25 million at the U.S. box office, making it the 13th highest grossing film of the year. The film was nominated for cinematography and visual effects Academy Awards and is now considered a classic science fiction film of the period.

This first PG-rated Disney film led the company towards experimenting with more adult-oriented films, which would eventually lead to the creation of its Touchstone Pictures arm to handle films considered too mature in nature to carry the Walt Disney label.


An Earth exploratory ship, the USS Palomino, discovers a black hole with a lost ship, the USS Cygnus, on its event horizon. To solve the mystery of the Cygnus, Palomino captain Dan Holland (Forster), his first officer Charlie Pizer (Bottoms), journalist Harry Booth (Borgnine), scientist and ESP-sensitive Kate McCrae (Mimieux), Dr. Alex Durant (Perkins), and the robot V.I.N.CENT board the ship where they meet its captain, Dr. Hans Reinhardt (Schell) and his army of robots, headed by the sinister Maximillian.

Reinhardt, a prominent scientist last seen twenty years ago, claims he is the only human aboard the vessel. But the Palomino crew's suspicion are raised as Booth observes one humanoid robot (who walks with a limp) tending an enormous vegetable garden and Holland observes a "space burial" being conducted by others. An older version of V.I.N.CENT aboard the Cygnus, Old B.O.B., reveals that the crew of the Cygnus mutinied against Reinhardt when he chose to keep the Cygnus in proximity to the black hole. After killing the ringleaders of the rebellion (particularly Frank McCrae, Kate's father), he used the fully automated robots aboard the ship, particularly Maximillian, to lobotomize the remainder of his crew and make them the humanoid robots on the Cygnus bridge. Durant is killed and McCrae is sent to be lobotomized when they discover this truth. While the rest of the crew goes to rescue Kate, journalist Harry Booth attempts to escape alone in the Palomino, but Reinhardt shoots the ship down. The resulting collison of the Palomino destroys parts of the ship. In a twist of fate, an asteroid storm occurs and starts destroying the ship, especially the anti-gravity generator holding the Cygnus in place. The forces caused by the black hole cause the ship to fall into ruin. When Maximillian and Reinhardt plan to escape the Cygnus in the probe ship, The large video screen on the bridge falls on Reinhardt and pins him down to the control panel. When Reinhardt calls for help from Maximillian, he betrays Reinhardt and goes after the Palomino Crew. The fight between V.I.N.CENT, the Palomino Crew (who had escaped the fight thanks to V.I.N.CENT) and Maximillian (who was defeated) leaves Old B.O.B. inoperable. Holland, Pizer, McCrae, and V.I.N.CENT escape aboard the Cygnus's probe ship, which Reinhardt had preset to enter the black hole itself, believing there was another universe through it. As the Palomino survivors reach the bottom of the Black Hole, they discover that have crossed over into an alternate dimension in which exists Heaven and Hell. As Reinhardt is condemned to eternal damnation (encased forever in the metal body of Maximillian), the crew of the Palomino passes through Heaven, encountering an Angel along the way, and then journeys on into a new reality of existence.


The robot name "V.I.N.CENT" is supposed to be an acronym of "Vital Information Necessarily Centralized".

The robot Maximillian was already named before the filmmakers selected actor Maximilian Schell to play Dr. Hans Reinhardt

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