There have been plenty of instances in science fiction where human and humanoid must put aside their differences in order to survive. I would imagine these instances happen in real life, too. For example, when your car breaks down and your only other passenger is an in-law. The Hugo Award-winning novella ‘Enemy Mine’ by Barry B. Longyear is one such story and was adapted into a movie that ended up being a box office bomb. However, with the movie popping up on HBO recently, one can see that despite its flaws, there are a few tear-jerking moments making it not entirely terrible. ‘Enemy Mine’ is today’s Throwback Thursday, ScienceFiction.com’s look at sci fi of the past.
Released in 1985, Fox handed over the directing reigns of ‘Enemy Mine’ to Wolfgang Petersen (‘The NeverEnding Story,’ ‘The Perfect Storm’) after being dissatisfied with the progress of the original director, Richard Loncraine (‘The Gathering Storm’). Writer Edward Khmara (‘Ladyhawke’ and 1998’s miniseries ‘Merlin’) adapted Longyear’s story. The movie stars Dennis Quaid and Louis Gossett, Jr. (‘Extant’) as the enemies-turned-friends.
We’re in the future and pilot Willis E. Davidge (Quaid) helps defend the human race against a reptilian alien race known as the Dracs. Davidge and one particular Drac, Jeriba (Gossett, Jr.) end up crash-landing on a mostly abandoned yet livable planet. At first, things are a bit rocky to say the least. They intially try to kill each other, but then when a meteorite storm happens, the two downgrade to petty bickering as they attempt to build a shelter.
As the years go by, Dennis Quaid grows a beard, and he and Jeriba (who Davidge calls Jerry, which is… whatever) learn to accept their differences. They even learn each other’s language and eventually Jeriba gives birth to a child named Zammis. Unfortunately Jeriba dies during childbirth. Davidge is left to raise Zammis where he does fatherly things like teach him how to play football. However, it turns out Davidge and Zammis aren’t the only ones living on this planet, and they soon learn danger is just around the corner.
The movie’s corny and there may be some type of undercurrent of cultural assimilation going on here depending on how much you want to nitpick a so-so movie. However, Dennis Quaid does a worthy job of transforming from a hotshot pilot into a doting caretaker. Plus, how can any scene with a cute kid, alien or otherwise, not tug at your heartstrings?