Hello and welcome back to my Journey into Science-Fiction Part:15. I was thinking of a way to watch science-fiction films that I have never watched before, plus an opportunity to learn more about the ones I had already seen. It’s quite a simple idea really, but all have to do is find a connection with each film in order to continue my journey.
In Part:14 I watched David Cronenberg’s The Fly and if you are wondering how it brought me to Wolfgang Petersen’s Enemy Mine, please click on the link above.
Now to get started on Enemy Mine 1985, directed by Wolfgang Petersen is a film based on the novel by the same name by Barry B. Longyear. It began production in 1984 but after “creative differences” the first director Richard Loncraine stood down to let Peterson take over and create his own vision for the film. The budget for the film was originally set at $17 million but eventually cost over $40 million, resulting in Enemy Mine becoming a Box Office Bomb. Like all quality science-fiction films though, it survived and has become a cult favourite amongst fans.
I have only watched Enemy Mine once or maybe twice before in my life and that was a long time ago, but I do remember it felt special and pretty unique for its time. So, with that in mind I was really worried that the passage of time was about to ruin those memories, I guess that’s some real first world problem right there.
The film starts in the late 21st Century and mankind has achieved peace on Earth but is still at war, only this time it’s in space against a race of reptilian humanoids called the Dracs. Willis E. Davidge Dennis Quaid is a fighter pilot who spends his time living on a fortress in space and only really remembers Earth as a precious memory. Davidge is caught up in a dogfight that leaves him determined on killing his enemy, but in fact, only leaves him killing his co-pilot and leaving him and a Drac, Jeriba Shigan Louis Gossett, Jr stranded on a remote planet.
The planet is called Fryine IV and is mysterious, desolate and lifeless. Davidge after taking care of funeral arrangements for his dead friend is ready for more retribution against a species he has never even set eyes on before. Jeriba, on the other hand, decides to have a dance in the rain and go for a swim, until Davidge tries to burn him alive. Jeriba captures Davidge and instead of killing him, ties him up instead. During an argument, they realise the real enemy is, in fact, the planet itself and they both run for cover. Davidge wakes up next to Jeriba and finally has a clear chance to kill him but changes his mind at the last moment, eventually showing some compassion for his enemy. Davidge realises that if they are to survive they will have to work together and starts to build a camp, much to Jeriba’s amusement as it falls to the ground. I have to say the character development by Louis Gossett, Jr in this scene is really amazing and what a way to bring so much warmth to Jeriba and break the ice between him and Davidge.
Jeriba now known as Jerry and Davidge are talking to each other in English, but there is still some hostility between the pair until Jerry saves Davidge’s life from an indigenous creature. Davidge acknowledges to Jerry that he could he have let him die and their friendship is cemented even more, on top of that Davidge realises they can use shells from another creature to help protect their home from meteor showers, bringing some short-lasting harmony to the camp. That’s until Davidge and Jerry struggle to get back to home during yet another meteor shower and Davidge accuses Jerry of becoming fat and lazy, resulting in them nearly killing each other. Davidge says they need to move on if they are to survive but Jerry decides its safer to stay and they both go their separate ways.
Davidge is left wandering the desolate planet for days until he finally finds something of real significance, some empty Pepsi cans proving the humans have been there recently, unfortunately, there is also the skull of a Drac. He realises its scavengers that have been on the planet, and they use Dracs as slaves for mining facilities. Davidge returns to his friend and decides it’s better not to tell him about his grizzly discovery but there is some even greater news to share, Jerry is pregnant!
Davidge and Jerry really can’t catch a break as tragedy strikes again. The creature that nearly killed Davidge attacks them and destroys their home, forcing them to seek refuge in the mountains. Jerry asks Davidge to tell him about his family history and in return will share his lineage with him. Jerry asks Davidge to return his child to the Drac homeworld and share his and Jerry’s lineage with them. Jerry is in labour and is ready to die but Davidge is having none of it and explains he has no experience of raising a child. After watching his friend die, Davidge is left to cut the baby from Jerry’s warm body.
Jerry’s offspring, Zammis Bumper Robinson grows a lot quicker than a human child and is soon running around and also becoming curious about his race and the difference between him and his uncle, who he has created a very strong bond with. The scavengers return to Fryine IV and Davidge warns Zammis to keep away from them without explaining the truth about their intentions. Ignoring his uncle and wanting to know more about the visitors, Zammis goes to the mining facility and is captured by the scavengers. Davidge is not far behind and manages to kill one of the scavengers, but he is unable to save his nephew and is left for dead on the planet.
Davidge is later found by a patrol ship and returned to the fortress he came from. After a very impersonal funeral ceremony, he wakes up speaking Drac’s language and is saved by a medical team. He is accused of working with the enemy but that will not stop him stealing a ship to go and help rescue Zammis from the scavengers. Davidge locates the mining facility on Fryine IV and with the help of the Drac’s who recognise him as “uncle” eventually finds Zammis. He also finds Stubbs, Brion James who points out that he killed his brother on their first encounter. The Drac slaves have an uprising against the scavengers, leaving Davidge to kills Stubbs. Davidge is finally reunited with his nephew as the crew from the fortress arrive and the mining facility is shut down.
Davidge and Zammis return to the Drac homeworld for Zammis’s heritage ceremony. As he had promised Jerry, Davidge recites the complete Jeriba ancestry before the Holy Council. The narrator says, “… and when, in the fullness of time, Zammis brought its own child before the Holy Council, the name of ‘Willis Davidge’ was added to the line of Jeriba.”
Well, I have to say, I really enjoyed going back and watching this film, it’s just a really great story. Watching Davidge transform from a soldier to Jerry’s friend, and later Zammis’s parent is quite extraordinary and really makes you think about how people interact with each other in everyday life. This is what science-fiction does best, it takes real-life issues and shows you how pointless some of these “issues” are when it comes down to the crunch. The special effects do look pretty dated but it looks like a classic B-movie and can get away with it. I guess the wonderful soundtrack by Maurice Jarre certainly helped create that feeling, as some of the music on this score took me back to some of the glorious black and white sci-fi shows of the past, amazing work. Wolfgang Peterson, the cast and everyone involved really did create a great film, and one I glad I revisited because these kinds of stories should always be told.
I can’t wait to get started on Part:16 of my Journey into Science-Fiction but what will I be watching next? I was thinking about watching Solar Crisis as Maurice Jarr wrote the score for that film also. In second place was the film Outland that was produced by Stanley O’Toole who worked on Enemy Mine as well. But the winner is Dreamscape that stars Dennis Quaid but also has a soundtrack composed by Maurice Jarre. I actually haven’t seen this film but I cant wait to watch it.
Thank you for reading. What do you think about Enemy Mine? Please leave me a comment below and again, thanks for your time.