What quirky sci fi movie was this?

This movie might have come out 20 years ago or so. The roughly half dozen characters were on a space ship that looked rounded and squat and dark and, I thought, toad-like. The big central room in their ship had a domed ceiling of big luminous panels, like a greenhouse, but the joints between the panels were wavy curves. Maybe the room was low in the center like a big conversation pit. I think there was some central character that turned out to be a floating brain with tubes all around it. Overall much of the scenery was dark. I think the flavor of the movie was more cultish and contrived than techie, more like Lord of the Rings than 2001: A Space Odyssey.

You might want to contact a mod and have them move this to Cafe Society. It’s a factual question, but you’re more likely to catch the eye of someone who knows the answer in that forum.

Movies, TV, cooking–anything that can be described as The Arts, seems to do better in Cafe Society, so let’s move this from General Questions.

samclem, Moderator, General Questions

It wasn’t Dark Star by any chance?

Was it in color? How and where did you see it? In what year did you see it? Is there anything else about the plot, the characters, etc. that you can tell us? How old were you when you saw it? (That may seem irrelevant, but with astonishing frequency when someone asks about a movie they saw as a child, they have muddled up the plot and often have muddled together the plots of several movies.)

I want to say, “City of Lost Children”.

Domed ship, dark, and cult movie? Sounds like Silent Running to me.

This is tantalizing. None of the three suggestions look like it to me.

I think it was in color.

I think I probably saw it when I was a student at the local university or with my first wife, which would put it in the '77 to '87 timeframe.

I don’t remember much plot and couldn’t rule out having muddled a couple of movies. Mostly I remember scenes, the settings, which for some reason left a haunting impression on me. This is why I’m so curious now what it was.

I really appreciate all the ideas, as this is starting to make me crazy. What follows is more of what I (think I) remember:

The movie is set entirely or almost entirely inside this spacecraft. There was a memorable visual of the spacecraft from the outside, and it was pretty dark, and softly rounded and bulbous, having a design I think was more artistic than earnest science fiction per se. Not at all like star wars. It reminded me of the opening of Das Boot, when the submarine suddenly materializes out of what turns out to be the underwater gloom. Or, well, maybe Das Boot reminded me of this mystery movie - not sure which I saw first.

The characters that are assembled onto this spacecraft have gathered together for some sort of a mission or job, and I don’t think they know one another at first. There is some person who is in charge of the ship or owns it, some kind of leader, who is strangely absent and mysterious. Eventually this person turns out to be a brain floating and connected to pink and purple tubing in some sort of clear bath. I think maybe this person has in effect melded with the ship. Or, then, maybe there is a son who is present and his mother is the mysterious absent leader who turns out to be the floating brain. For some reason I imagine there was some creepy mother-in-charge thing going on like in Psycho - but maybe this is just way off.

Here’s more possibly imagined detail:

The characters are often interacting in this central room with the domed ceiling. I think the room is probably 20 or 30 feet in diameter, and other parts of the ship radiate out of it. The feel of the room isn’t very techie, it is more sort of a pleasantly decorated living space. The ceiling is most distinctive. It’s these translucent panels that form a hemisphere, like in a planetarium, but they are separated by these structural pieces that are all curved in sinuous fashion. Perhaps the effect is most like living inside a round stained glass lamp shade, with all the glass a sort of creamy opaque. I think the dome glows most brightly midday and takes on reddish shades in the morning and evening, in imitation of the real sky. The characters are walking into and out of this area, and sitting around talking, and whatnot, like the livingroom in a sitcom where people come and go and engage one another.

There is also some other scene, in some large and cavernous part of the spacecraft where there are big, simple, dark shapes looming in the shadow, presumeable some kind of engines or generators or something. The characters are exploring around in it, I think, trying to figure out their mysterious predicament.

And, I think it had the feel that cult films have. But I shouldn’t say that it WAS a cult film, because I don’t know. It just had a sort of feeling like they seem to.

Is this it?

Down Periscope?


That’s pervoise!

Ahh, no, Robot Arm, it wasn’t that artistic.

Herbert Quentin Viola, are you suggesting the Kelsey Grammar comedy? Or did you really really enjoy Robot Arm’s link?

Golly. I hope you’re not thinking of Blake’s 7.

The description sounds to me like Nightflyers, based on George R. R. Martin’s novella

I found it particularly annoying, but hadn’t read the story until recently. It should have bewen done much better, but they seemed not to trust their audience to be able to think… In any event, the conversation-pit space ship struck me as extremely weird.



Nightflyers - that sounds like it, based on the linked descriptions. I want to find some pictures, other than the few at the links. Let me look around…

Nightflyers it is! Wow, what a relief…

Other than the floating brain, that movie is in no way like the one the OP describes. There was no space ship involved in City of Lost Children - just France :slight_smile:

Did you find any pictures of the interior or exterior of the ship for those of us whose curiosity you’ve piqued?