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
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