The doctor is “mad or genius” but which way he is depends if he succeeds on getting through to the other side of the black hole.
Who knows, until the scientist tries, but branded of dubious stability when he wants to drive right into the dreaded deep, dark, black hole and find what lies behind there, even ultimate knowledge. Of sound mind?
The crew of the spacecraft the USS Palomino – featuring actors Robert Forster (Captain Dan Holland), Joseph Bottoms (Lieutenant Charles Pizer), Anthony Perkins (Dr Alex Durant), Yvette Mimieux (Dr Kate McCrae) and Ernest Borgnine (journo Harry Booth) – parks by the Cygnus to repair their ship and find Dr Hans Reinhardt (Maximillian Schell) about to unleash his quest.
Director Gary Nelson and writers Jeb Rosebrook and Jerry Day may not have known or may have known they were carrying a theme of temptation and desire.
I thought Reinhardt was being tempted by foolish pride…the same temptation that is described at the beginning of the Bible. Playing on the lust of the eyes and the pride of life, his downfall may be assured. Pride before a fall. But this theme does not entirely follow through.
The real theme here is in taking the next step in the progress of humanity, which may turn out as real progress or a fool’s game. An outrageous turn of events may make sure the scientist’s assumptions, that one can drive through a black hole and come out the other side. In that, the doctor may not be so “mad” after all.
The viewer is offered robots, humanoids, Vincent – a knowledgeable assistant for the Palomino and the action is heating up when Reinhardt begins to summon his ship into the black hole. However, with some religious profanities (some would say understandable since they come from the mouth of a journalist) the theme of progress, from a Christian perspective, is nullified. God, in Genesis, made human endeavor to be done in reference to him, not without him as a curse word.