A Cult Film by Proxy: Space is the Place and the Sun Ra Mythos

Jamie Sexton

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This paper examines the film Space is the Place, a 1974 science-fiction film starring jazz maverick Sun Ra. I determine why the film has attained cult status, and demonstrate how an understanding of Sun Ra's particular belief system helps to comprehend this text. Space is the Place has become a cult movie, I argue, due to its reception trajectory, but also because of its particular aesthetic features. In terms of the former, I pay particular attention to changing intellectual attitudes towards African American identities, as well as Sun Ra's increasing cultic status across a range of musical fandoms. It is this status within the musical world that leads to Space is the Place becoming what I call a 'cult film by proxy'. Nevertheless, I also argue that textual features—such as excess, generic hybridity and 'trashiness'—cement and contribute to its continuing cult reputation.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)197-215
Number of pages19
JournalNew Review of Film and Television Studies
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2006


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