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THE NEW BATTLESTAR GALACTICA - THE WAR ON TERROR, IN SPACE


 

With a television industry dominated by teen-friendly science-fiction, the reinvented Battlestar Galactica has breathed new life into the genre, writes Nick Goundry . . .

The best film and television that which resonates through cultural history is a direct reflection of the society that produced it, and Battlestar Galactica is no different. Effortlessly sweeping away the memory of its camp origins, the series has become a complex allegory for the War on Terror, and in many ways forms a direct comment on modern politics that makes the show fascinating, relevant and topical viewing, for those willing to look beyond the science-fiction surface-sheen.

The show's new incarnation began with a terrorist attack. The terrorists were named Cylons and were a product of human engineering, rebelling spectacularly against their human creators. Leaving millions upon millions of humans dead, a mere 50,000 survivors escape into deep space, shocked and traumatized by the sudden, unprovoked attack. What follows is a story of survival, soul-searching and relentless pursuit, that incisively taps into the current social fears of the modern, post-9/11 world.

Spiritual to the point of fanaticism, the Cylons themselves have evolved to look like humans, a story development that suits both the show’s political undertones and the visual-effects budget. Early on, we learn that some of these Cylons have infiltrated the surviving human fleet, often without even being aware of their own identities. As 'sleeper' cells, they are ready to be activated at a moment's notice, a discovery which proves a source of internal tension as suddenly the enemy is no longer clearly identifiable. As if the constant threat of Cylon attack be it through sabotage, suicide bombing or aerial assault is not a big-enough problem, mistrust, betrayal and clashing opinions also take their heavy toll on the human survivors.

"A thinly-veiled comment on the invasion of Iraq . . ."

Despite, however, the obvious atrocities committed by the terrorists, the show is equally damning in exploring the human responses. Captured Cylons are subjected to questionable interrogation techniques and in some cases outright abuse. As the specter of Guantanamo Bay still lingers in the background of the real world, ethical questions arise to which there are no easy answers, either to the crew of Battlestar Galactica, or the viewer. Can torture and abuse of prisoners truly be justified if 'national security' (for lack of a better phrase) is at stake?

In a thinly-veiled comment on the invasion of Iraq, the show’s penultimate season explores the practical ramifications of occupation, as a re-settled community of human survivors find themselves under Cylon rule, via a human puppet government. Humans are arrested without charge and beaten while in custody, as the Cylons attempt to retain order through fear. Their overriding and blatantly misguided objective is to spread the Word of God throughout the human population, but their efforts are gradually thwarted by an underground resistance movement. The resistance soon resorts to suicide bombing, at which point total social catastrophe is narrowly avoided with a spectacular rescue of the rebelling humans.

Battlestar Galactica is well-scripted, well-performed and often visually-stunning, in the best tradition of the science-fiction genre. It's also a haunting modern tale of humanity forced to confront the consequences of past actions; it was, after all, mankind who created the Cylons, or terrorists, whichever word is used. The best film and television has something to say about the culture from which it came. With wars still raging in Iraq and Afghanistan, and religious divides ever-widening, the importance of finding new ways to bring topical issues to new audiences, even if it's by way of a genre filter, should never be underestimated.


 


Format: AC-3, Box set, Color, Dolby, DVD-Video, Subtitled, Widescreen, NTSC
Language: English
Subtitles: English, Spanish
Region: 1 (U.S. and Canada only)
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1
Number of discs: 6
Studio: Universal Studios
DVD Release Date: March 18, 2008
Run Time: 953 minutes

 


 

 



 

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