Battlefield Earth

From Academic Kids

Missing image
Cover of the novel Battlefield Earth intended to promote the movie

Battlefield Earth is a science fiction novel written by Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard, and a film adaptation of that novel produced by and starring John Travolta.


The book

The novel Battlefield Earth was first published in 1980 by St. Martin's Press, though all subsequent reprintings have been by Scientology publishing companies Bridge Publications and Galaxy Press. This was Hubbard's first science fiction novel since his pulp magazine days of the 1940s, and it was promoted as Hubbard's "return" to science fiction after a long hiatus.

Written in the style of the pulp fiction era (during which Hubbard began his writing career), the novel is a massive work (over 750 pages in hardcover, 1000+ in paperback) telling a fictional story set approximately 1,000 years in our future. Before the story begins, the reader learns, an evil alien race called the "Psychlos" invaded Earth near the end of the 20th century, destroying human civilization in a matter of days and reducing humankind to little more than cave dwellers. A thousand years later, a series of events is put into action that finally gives humanity a chance to rebel against their alien overlords and free Earth from the control of a massive galactic empire.

Reaction to the book from literary critics and science fiction fans has been decidedly mixed since its publication. While generally acknowledged to be one of Hubbard's better books, reviews and comments on it have ranged from being thrilling and action-packed to plodding, overlong, and even unreadable. In particular, accusations have been made that the book includes themes of Scientology.

Example of possibly Scientology-related content

Psychlo, the name of the alien species, may be derived from the word psychiatrist. Within the book the Psychlos or Catrists are described as a group of charlatans of unknown origin who managed to become the elite within their people and thus gave the name to their entire species and the planet. Psychlos or Catrists are described as atheistic, cynical and cruel; those who do not share the views of the Catrists or oppose them are subjected to various forms of persecution. It is stated that a supporting character, a Psychlo mathematician named "Soth", was shaped by the views of his mother who was a member of a resistance group, a so-called "church", which held religious meetings secretly.

As with many of Hubbard's books, the organization of Scientology engaged in a massive public relations campaign to buy enormous quantities of the book, in order to place it onto best-seller lists and foster the image of Hubbard as a best-selling author. Various bookstore chains (including Waldenbooks) have cited examples of Scientologists repeatedly coming into stores and buying armfuls of the book at a time. Several bookstores reported that shipments of the book arrived with the store's own price tags already affixed to them, even before they were unpacked from the shipping boxes.

The movie

After his success in the movie Pulp Fiction, Hollywood star John Travolta pushed hard to make a movie adaptation of Battlefield Earth a reality. Travolta, a devoted Scientologist and one of the organization's most vocal supporters, described the book in interviews as "like Star Wars, only better." The movie Battlefield Earth based on the novel came out in 2000 and was produced and distributed by Time Warner. It was directed by Roger Christian and starred John Travolta, Barry Pepper, Forest Whitaker, Kim Coates, Richard Tyson, Sabine Karsenti, Michael Byrne, and Kelly Preston.

In this futuristic epic, a greedy security chief, played by John Travolta, enslaves prisoners to mine gold for him. Barry Pepper plays the human (or "man-animal") who decides to liberate his people by fighting the security chief.

The film received nothing but bad reviews, including from the New York Times and acclaimed film critic Roger Ebert. It was also voted on the Internet Movie Database as one of the 100 worst films [1] ( The ultimate insult came in 2001, when the movie received seven Razzie Awards, including Worst Movie of the Year and Worst Actor (Travolta), effectively classifying the movie as the worst film made in Hollywood since Showgirls. In 2004, the movie received a Razzie for Worst 'Drama' Of Our First 25 Years.

Critical Reaction

"...a picture that will be hailed without controversy as the worst of its kind ever made." - David Edelstein, Slate
" taking a bus trip with someone who has needed a bath for a long time... something historic, a film that for decades to come will be the punch line of jokes about bad movies." - Roger Ebert
" watching the most expensively mounted high school play of all time... 'Battlefield Earth' may well turn out to be the worst movie of this century... beyond conventional criticism." - Elvis Mitchell, New York Times
"...breathtakingly awful in concept and execution... trite, befogged and dorky... glowering, humorless, clumsily rendered." - Rita Kempley, Washington Post
"...hilariously awful..." - Kenneth Silber,
" authentic howler of the Big Dumb and Loud school..." - Ron Weiskind, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
"...the greatest White Zombie-GWAR music video ever... If filmmaking has ever been less thrilling and more disengaging, I'd like to see it." - Wesley Morris, San Francisco Examiner
"...offensive to anyone with an I.Q. above that of a popcorn kernel... Battlefield is so stupid it defies explanation" - John Powell, Jam! Showbiz
"... just bad enough to be bad, without being bad enough to be good..." - Steve Tilley, Edmonton Sun
"...there's no excuse for this... a brainless, emotionless, hopeless film, a waste of the time of everyone involved..." - Andrew Malone, The Diamondback
"...even by Hollywood's titanic standards, 'Battlefield Earth' stands out as an example of blind hubris and folly... how could such a movie happen?" - Sharon Waxman, Washington Post
"...a science-fiction movie of aching - no, murderous - stupidity... contains not a frame that is in anyway engaging, interesting or less than ridiculous." - Jay Stone, Ottawa Citizen
" poorly constructed as anything in recent or long-term memory..." - Jason Katzman, Colorado Daily
"...a poorly phrased cipher... It's the kind of movie that is to 'abomination' as 'abomination' is to 'masterpiece.'" - Erin Podolsky, Michigan Daily
"...a movie so wantonly moronic that it defies description... utterly inane." - Wade Major, Boxoffice Magazine
"...a lumbering, poorly photographed piece of derivative sci-fi drivel..." - Owen Gleiberman, Entertainment Weekly

See also

External links


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