Dark Star is the most important film of the seventies

(and if you haven’t yet seen it, I pity you).

“Think we’ll ever find intelligent life out there?”
“Who cares”.

Funnier than the Godfather, more arthouse than Jaws, scarier than Star Wars. Forget the Exorcist and the French Connection, Taxi Driver and the Deer Hunter, one film is more important, substantial, necessary, weighty and funny than anything else from that decade, and it is John Carpenter and Dan O’Bannon’s wonderful Dark Star. If you haven’t seen it (and let’s face it, you haven’t) Dark Star is Waiting for Godot meets Dr. Strangelove, or 2001:A Space Odyssey meets Blackadder Goes Forth; it chronicles the tedious adventures of the four remaining crew of the ship Dark Star, who are on a seemingly endless deep-space mission to destroy entire planets using sentient bombs, as their ship steadily fails around them and they try to keep themselves entertained.

The characters are empty, vapid and boring, just like you. They each have a single character trait and share only the weight of the tedium of their Pavlovian existence. Are they insane? Or are they experiencing hypersanity? Just like the audience, screamingly funny deadpan intonations from the soft-voiced ship’s computer, like the message that the entire supply of toilet paper has been incinerated in a freak accident; or a discussion of Cartesian philosophy with a self-aware bomb are played completely without humour or knowing. Perhaps like the crew of the Dark Star, the audience accept this with stone faced silence but feel permanently on the edge of hysterical laughter.

Just as Ridley Scott’s camera would creep through the arterial corridors of the Nostromo, perfectly capturing Dan O’Bannon’s script; so here John Carpenter’s camera holds solidly on the expressionless bearded faces of the Dark Star crew. It’s difficult to communicate how rivetingly tedious Dark Star is, and how that’s meant as a compliment. Seek it out little ones, you won’t regret it. Or you could just go to Benson Arizona instead.

Written under duress by Steven.

EDIT: People have asked for my hyperbolic anti-establishment and ill-informed opinion on the greatest movies of other decades too, so here goes. Sixties: A Shot in the Dark. Eighties: Robocop. Nineties: Dead Man. If you haven't seen those, seriously, fix that.

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