Babylon 5: The Gathering/In the Beginning
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The long-running, Emmy-winning TV series launches onto DVD with two feature-length adventures about an outer-space weigh station. In the series pilot "The Gathering" (1993, 89 min.), an interstellar summit strives to negotiate a lasting truce, if an assassin's agenda doesn't have the opposite effect. Set primarily in the decade before the orbital station existed, the prequel "In the Beginning" (1998, 100 min.) depicts the tumultuous events of the Earth-Minbari War, which shaped interstellar events and paved the way for the construction of the universal safeport.
In spring 1993, a year before the Babylon 5 series was launched, the two-hour movie and series pilot "The Gathering" staked out the initial territory, introducing primary characters (some of whom would never appear again) and sketching the alliances and rifts in interplanetary diplomacy. The central story involves the attempted assassination of the newly arrived Vorlon, the mysterious Ambassador Kosh, at the hands of (perhaps) Commander Jeffrey Sinclair (Michael O'Hare). This is the reedited cut released on video, a stronger, more engaging film than the original, but still a broad first stab at characters that would be redefined through the course of the show's run.
"In the Beginning," produced between the fourth and fifth seasons, packs all the history alluded to in "The Gathering"--and more--into a prequel stuffed to the hatches with the epic doings of Earth, Minbar, Narn, and Centauri in the days before the Babylon stations were built. Infused with epic sweep and storytelling confidence by producer-writer Michael J. Straczynski and his cast and crew, it's an elegant, compelling addition to the Babylon 5 universe and a dramatic highlight of the series. It's not an ideal introduction, though, as it gives away the shadowy history slowly revealed through the first three seasons. --Sean Axmaker
- "The Gathering": full-frame
- "In the Beginning": anamorphic widescreen (1.85:1)
- List of cast & crew
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"In the Beginning" is a movie that tells the story of the Earth/Minbari War, which was a brutal conflict. This is told through many of the characters we know from the series, many of whom (somewhat improbably) meet years before they did on the station, even though we never see or hear them speak of their prior acquaintance. Eh. <shrugs> Whaddya want? It's a good story, and explains a bit more about a major plot point involving humans, Minbari, and Valen.
This is a great DVD to own, because you get two independent "movies" about the show. You can show a friend "In the Beginning," and get them interested in the show. I found I had to "nurse" my wife through Season 1, but after that she was hooked.
This is a good purchase.
Nevertheless, I don't think it is skippable because other episodes do allude back to things that occurred in this one. It won't blow you away, but gives some good origin for some of the characters and their arrival on the station, and is kind of neat from a commentary standpoint to see early plans for the show and its characters.
There are two versions of this movie; the VHS and the DVD version. In the VHS version the music score is composed by Stewart Copeland of Police fame. In the DVD version there is a new score composed by Christopher Franke. Also gone in the DVD is the trip Commander Jeffrey Sinclair and telepath Lyta Alexander take through the alien sector to get to her quarters. The fans said the alien sector looked like a zoo. Also the DVD version has an extra fourteen minutes film. Babylon 5 - The Gathering won an Emmy Award in 1994 for Outstanding Individual Achievement in Special Visual Effects. I am giving Babylon 5 - The Gathering a B+.
Babylon 5 - In The Beginning (Prequel Film) is one hour and thirty-four minutes long and premiered on the TNT network on January 4, 1998. This movie deals with the Earth-Minbari War and how the war happens and why the Minbari surrender at the Battle of the Line. The movie opens 35 years after the Earth-Minbari War on Centauri Prime in the Emperor's Palace. Londo Mollari is a very aged Emperor and his home world is nothing more than a ball of fire. There are a couple of children playing in the Royal Throne Room and Emperor Londo orders them to come here. He lets the boy in the room to be Emperor for five minutes and in that time Londo will grant him one wish. The boy asks for a story of war, battles, heroes, and villains and the girl there wants a true story so Londo gives then both what they want.
The story begins sometime after the Dilgar War and Earth is doing a sphere of influence campaign and has heard of the race called the Minbari. The ask Earth Ambassador Londo Mollari for any information about this race. Mollari warns them that they are a very old and powerful race and should be left alone. If Earth does insist on going then send one ship. Earth does not take his advice and sends an expedition fleet they are led by gun-ho Captain. The Captain ignores Earth orders not to engage with the Minbari and when the Minbari cruisers arrive with gunports open as a sign of respect and strength. Captain Michael Jankowski does not know this and opens fire on the cruisers accidently killing Gray Council leader Dukhat. This would trigger the start of the Earth-Minbari War which would last three years.
In The Beginning have some actors in the movie that appeared in the Babylon 5 television show. Theodore Bikel plays Lenonn, Ranger 1, in the movie and Rabbi Koslov in Season One episode TKO. Robin Atkin Downes as Morann in the movie and Byron and Morann is Season Five. Tricia O'Neil as the Earth Alliance President in the movie and M'Ola in Season One episode Believers. Babylon 5 - In The Beginning gets an AAA+++ for the special effects and answering some of the questions from the television show.
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