A Pitch Black Lunar Eclipse

A Pitch Black Lunar Eclipse

Saturday night witnessed a rare lunar phenomenon, namely a total eclipse of the moon by the earth’s shadow. Having been fortunate enough to witness the previous lunar eclipse in 1998, and being forewarned by Caelia, we walked through Straith Woods to enjoy one of natures own light shows.

Minimising the light pollution from Sheffield, we ventured through Straith woods to an abandoned graveyard. Fortunately that night we were graced with a cloudless sky to enjoy the lunar eclipse, and moonlight sufficiently strong enough to cast shadows.

The graveyard was a suitably atmospheric location from which to observe the lunar eclipse; streams of moonlight shone through the tree’s, highlighting patches of foliage covered gravestones, their original carvings erased by time.

After witnessing the eclipse, Caelia and I returned to my flat to watch Pitch Black as a suitable follow up to such an astronomical event. Whilst obviously low budget, the film focuses on characterization and tight plotting, rather than the special effects. The effects used in creating the monsters (AKA Grue’s) was only fleetingly, proving the theory that less is more.

Vin Diesel’s performance as the amoral (rather than immoral) Riddick was a joy to watch. His gravelled voice and muscled physique brought much to the character. Equally deserving mention is Radha Mitchel who plays a stunning role as Carolyn Fry, the effective leader of the group. Equally deserving was Keith David as the pious Imam, who added a spiritual tone to the more pragmatic testosterone. Whilst it was refreshing to watch Claudia Black in a role other than Aeryn Sun (as in Farscape), Claudia still managed to play another “tough female” archetype, and I would have preferred seeing more diversity in her character.

It was intriguing to observe how the director focuses upon eyes. Not only close-in shots of character’s eyes (most prominently when Fry is “landing” the Hunter Gratzner), but witnessing scenes from perspectives of different characters. Further, each of the major characters posseses a trait relating to their eyes: Riddick can see in the dark through the ‘shine job’ on his eyes, Johns injects morphine through the tear ducts in his eyes, and we see how Grue’s perceive their environment by means of echo-location.

Overall, Pitchblack is a riveting film to watch, made more so by the careful use of spectacular planetary scenes of the alien environment, along with tight plotting and some excellent characters.