Space Is the Place

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For the film soundtrack, see Space Is the Place (soundtrack). For the studio album, see Space Is the Place (album).
Space Is the Place
Space Is the Place video cover.jpg
Region 1 DVD Cover
Directed by John Coney
Produced by Jim Newman
Written by Sun Ra
Joshua Smith
Starring Sun Ra
Raymond Johnson
Music by Sun Ra
Cinematography Seth Hill
Edited by Barbara Pokras
Release dates
November 1974
Running time
85 min.
Country United States
Language English

Space Is the Place is an 85-minute blaxploitation science fiction film made in 1972 and released in 1974.[1][2] It was directed by John Coney, written by Sun Ra and Joshua Smith, and features Sun Ra and his Arkestra. A soundtrack was released on Evidence Records.


During the late-1960s and early-1970s, Sun Ra and his ensemble made several forays to California. In 1971, Sun Ra taught a course, "The Black Man in the Cosmos," at University of California, Berkeley.[3] Over the course of these California visits, Sun Ra came to the attention of Jim Newman, who produced the film Space Is the Place starring Sun Ra and his Arkestra, and based, in part, on Sun Ra's Berkeley lectures.[3]


Sun Ra, who has been reported lost since his European tour in June 1969, lands on a new planet in outerspace with his crew "The Arkestra" and decides to settle African Americans on this planet. The medium of transportation he had chosen is music. He travels back in time and returns to the Chicago strip club where he used to play piano with the name "Sonny Ray" in 1943. There he confronts The Overseer (Ray Johnson), a pimp-overlord, and they agree on a duel at cards for the fate of the Black race. Each card drawn is a minor goal to achieve for Ra or The Overseer which will determine the winner of the duel. Then, to present time, Ra disembarks from his spaceship at Oakland and tries to spread his word by meeting with young Blacks at an Oakland youth centre and opening an "employment agency" to recruit people eager to move to the planet. He also agrees with Jimmy Fey (Christopher Brooks), the minion of The Overseer, to arrange radio interviews, a record album, and eventually a concert that will help him dictate his message. At the end, Ra takes Fey's "Black parts" with him to the spaceship, leaving him with his White parts. Fey, now acting white, leaves The Overseer who loses the duel. The planet Earth is destroyed after Ra's spaceship flies into space.

Ra's greatest adversary in his quest is The Overseer, incarnation of evil in the Black community who poses himself to be a community leader and a man of charity. But in fact, he is the tool of the power structure. Ra is also pursued by White government agents (presumably from FBI) who attempt to assassinate him. On the other hand, Jimmy Fey is a representative of Black people in the entertainment industry and mass media.

Director's cut[edit]

In 2003, the movie was re-released in its entire 82-minute format on DVD, after a heavily edited 63-minute version on VHS.


  1. ^ official website for "Space is the Place", fictionalized treatment based on Sun Ra's ideas and philosophy, featuring his Arkestra, filmed in 1972 and 1973.
  2. ^ Space Is the Place at the Internet Movie Database
  3. ^ a b Cook, Richard; Brian Morton (2006) [1992]. The Penguin Guide to Jazz Recordings. The Penguin Guide to Jazz (8th ed.). New York: Penguin. pp. p. 1247. ISBN 0-14-102327-9. 

External links[edit]