One of the primary goals of this series is to plumb the depths of our pop culture past, examining relics of our not-so-distant past with a fresh set of eyes.
Today's errand involves looking deeper at the sci-fi non-classic Enemy Mine.
Now, when I undertook the chore of watching this film I had no idea what to expect. I was certainly taken aback to find that I would be watching the precursor to Brokeback Mountain starring Dennis Quaid and Louis Gossett, Jr., in the roles that would be unofficially reprised by Jake Gyllenhaal and Heath Ledger.
You see, Enemy Mine is about two men who are marooned on a distant, virtually uninhabited planet who take shelter from the planets harsh elements together, and eventually take comfort in each other's company. When I say "two men" what I really mean is a human and a Draconian, but as first two acts blatantly elucidate (and the third act absolutely bludgeons the point home), these two species are really just different races.
Where Wolfgang Petersen makes his bold decision, however, is when he decides to make Enemy Mine an interracial Brokeback Mountain. Even though he is in a scaly reptilian get-up for the whole movie, Petersen chose to cast a black man to play Jeriba. This is no coincidence. The racial tension between Dennis Quaid's character, Willis Davidge, who essentially starts the film as the clean-cut poster boy for the Aryan ideal, and Jeriba is so thick it could not be flushed down a toilet. As the two get to know each other while trying their best to simply survive in this crazy, messed up world, they begin to form a bond. They co-habitate. They teach each other new things. Lou Gossett, Jr., has a baby. Despite their initial racially-motivated hatred of one another, they overcame their differences and found comfort in one another's company, and what they have to show for it is an alien butt baby.
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Whatever. It's your movie, Wolfgang. Make it your own.
So Jeriba, Davidge's lover, has their child but dies in childbirth. Davidge raises their son as his "uncle" and teaches him about both of their cultures. Then their son, Zammis, runs off, attacks a WASP, and ends up getting enslaved by the human settlers (read: Europeans) while Davidge is shot and presumed dead by Zammis's captor. Of course, Davidge is resurrected (he emerges from a body bag, not a cave) and goes to save Zammis after removing the rock from the metaphorical cave door with a fighter's weapons. When he lands, he saves the enslaved Draconians and rescues his "nephew" from his oppressors.
So what we have here is a snapshot of Wolfgang Petersen's world, one in which Jesus had an interracial love child with his male lover on Brokeback Mountain--and Jesus freed the slaves.
And just so you know I'm not crazy: