Enemy Mine is a film well suited for our times; it’s a thinly disguised metaphor about learning to accept people who are different than us both culturally and racially.
Revisiting Enemy Mine last night it struck me how well suited it would be to serve as a basis for a Star Trek movie, or an episode of any of the Trek series., The film’s narrative is strongly reminiscent of the somewhat heavy-handed morality tales the series is known for telling. I suppose it’s just a matter of time before it falls victim to becoming another remake or reboot.
Besides the themes about intolerance of those that differ from us it also bears a resemblance to another war story that featured mostly a cast of two characters, Hell In The Pacific (1968) about two enemy soldiers under similar circumstances, forced to work together for survival, and the relationship that develops between them. Like this film, it looks at the importance of human contact and the bond which can form even between enemies if lacking any other connection. Do we ever really outgrow our anthropology?
Enemy Mine is a good movie, if maybe overly sappy in places, it’s an acceptable ‘B’ movie because despite being what some would consider corny, it’s a film with heart and has a message worth telling. It’s a message we seem to have forgotten these days but one that’s important to remember.
In case you have forgotten, Enemy Mine is a 1985 American science fiction film directed by Wolfgang Peterson and written by Edward Khmara, based on Barry B. Longyear’s Story of the same name. The film stars Dennis Quaid and Louis Gossett Jr. as a human and alien soldier, respectively, who become stranded together on an inhospitable planet and must overcome their mutual distrust to cooperate and survive.
Quaid is one of those movie actors with a formidable body of work who never entirely broke through to the A-list of movie stars although he arguably deserves it, and Gossett was a hot commodity at the time whose career as a notable African American actor peaked about the time this film premiered
This movie is well populated thematically. Compassion, understanding and tolerating the differences in others are just a couple of the things its story revolves around. It’s also about keeping a promise to an unexpected friend and simply doing the right thing. Slavery is also an issue it touches on, and all of these topics make it relative to social concerns that confront us today.
Transported to another setting, the main plot of the film could take place in our world of today without being altered much in any way. It could tell the story of a black man, and a white man or a middle easterner and a western Caucasian, or anywhere a polarized cultural dynamic exists, since the themes it revolves around are pretty universal.
The production qualities of the film seem somewhat low budget by any standards, they’re just bad enough to be a distraction, and in fact, contribute to give the movie some of its historic charms. Gosset’s alien makeup, although it doesn’t withstand too close inspection, does an excellent job regarding giving him a convincing strange appearance.
I enjoyed watching the film again after not seeing it for quite awhile it holds up pretty well considering it premiered over thirty years ago. Another noteworthy thing about the movie is that it features an appearance by Brian James (Leon in Blade Runner) as Stubbs, the main antagonist human in the film.