Babylon 5: In the Beginning (1998)


Introduction

Babylon 5: In the Beginning is a 1998 American made-for-television film set in the Babylon 5 fictional universe. It was written by J. Michael Straczynski and directed by Michael Vejar. The film originally aired on 04 January 1998 on the TNT cable network, a couple of weeks before the fifth season of the series began.

The film tells the story of the war between humans and an alien race known as the Minbari, which forms an important part of the backstory of Babylon 5. The war begins as the result of a misunderstanding, and nearly leads to the extermination of the human race, but is halted by the Minbari leadership at the last moment for reasons that remain secret for over a decade. This near-destruction of the human race leads to the Earth Alliance commissioning the Babylon space stations as a means of preventing further wars.

Also known as Babylon 5: Last of the Fallen (working title, US).

Outline

In 2278, the planet Centauri Prime is in flames. Londo Mollari, the emperor of the Centauri Republic, tells two children, Luc and Lyssa, the story of the Earth-Minbari War, which took place 35 years ago while he was a diplomatic liaison to Earth.

In 2243, the human race, emboldened by recent victories, is rapidly expanding into space. Word reaches them of the mysterious Minbari. Though they are warned by Londo to leave this race alone, they send an expedition to study the Minbari, led by the starship Prometheus. Meanwhile, the Minbari leadership – the Grey Council, led by Dukhat – are voyaging to investigate concerns that an ancient enemy, the Shadows, may be returning. The Prometheus expedition encounters the Grey Council’s convoy by chance. As the Minbari ships approach the Earth ships, they open their gun ports – a sign of respect in their culture. The captain of Prometheus, interpreting this as a signal of intent to attack, opens fire. The Minbari ships are heavily damaged, and Dukhat is killed. In retaliation, the Grey Council declares a holy war against humanity, with Dukhat’s protégée Delenn casting the deciding vote.

The war continues for several months, and human forces are overwhelmed by superior Minbari technology. Lieutenant Commander John Sheridan, first officer of the Lexington, is part of a battlegroup engaging the Minbari. After Sheridan’s commanding officer is killed, Sheridan assumes command of the damaged ship and lays a trap for the enemy, seeding the local asteroids with nuclear mines. The Minbari flagship Black Star closes in to finish off the Lexington, but is itself destroyed by the mines – Earth’s only real victory during the war.

The Minbari faction that feels the war has caused enough senseless bloodshed – led by Delenn, who has learned that Dukhat believed an alliance with humans would be necessary to defeat the Shadows – uses this as an opportunity to engage in peace talks with Earth. However, the Centauri discover that the humans are having a secret meeting that is being brokered by the Narn, a rival of the Centauri. Not understanding the purpose of the meeting, the Centauri bomb the peace conference, with neither the humans nor Minbari suspecting their intervention. All hope for peace is lost, and humanity’s losses at the hands of the Minbari continue for two more years.

In a last, desperate effort, the President of Earth orders all available ships to form a “line” around the planet in an attempt to delay the Minbari to give some humans time to flee the planet. During the battle, a human pilot, Jeffrey Sinclair, is captured for interrogation. The Grey Council is startled to discover that he possesses the soul of the revered Minbari religious leader Valen. Delenn infers that the reincarnation of Valen as a human is a signal that the humans must not be destroyed, and so the Minbari surrender to the defenceless Earth forces. Because of the damage this revelation could do to their own culture, they keep the reason for the surrender a secret.

In the wake of the war, Earth plans to build a space station, the Babylon 5, that will serve as a venue for peaceful collaboration to prevent future wars.

After the children leave him, Londo views Delenn and Sheridan being held captive in the Centauri palace. Toasting them as his friends, he begins drinking heavily, and orders the prisoners to be brought to him in one hour.

Cast

  • Bruce Boxleitner … John J. Sheridan.
  • Mira Furlan … Delenn.
  • Richard Biggs … Stephen Franklin, M.D.
  • Andreas Katsulas … G’Kar.
  • Peter Jurasik … Londo Mollari.
  • Theodore Bikel … Lenonn.
  • Reiner Schöne … Dukhat (as Reiner Schone).
  • Michael O’Hare … Lieutenant Commander Jeffrey Sinclair (archive footage).
  • Robin Atkin Downes … Morann.
  • J. Patrick McCormack … General Lefcourt.
  • Tricia O’Neil … Earth Alliance President.
  • Robin Sachs … Coplann.
  • James Patrick Stuart … Presidential Aide.
  • Jason Ross-Azikiwe … Captain Sterns (as Jason Azikiwe).

Trivia

  • Both the children and the Centauri woman are members of Emperor Londo Mollari’s household, and all got there through murder.
    • Luc and Lyssa are the niece and nephew of Urza Jaddo, whom Mollari killed in a duel in Babylon 5: Knives (1995).
    • Senna, the Centauri woman, is the daughter of Lord Refa, whom Mollari had assassinated in Babylon 5: And the Rock Cried Out, No Hiding Place (1996).
    • In both cases, Mollari took the children of his victims into his family.
  • According to Babylon 5 canon, Senna later marries Vir Cotto.
    • When Vir becomes emperor, she reigns also, as empress.
  • According to the novelisation, Jankowski later committed suicide.
    • He left a note which said only, “On my head,”.
    • He meant that he foresaw his mistake being the reason for humanity’s extermination.
  • In this TV-movie, Robin Sachs plays Coplann, a member of the Minbari Grey Council.
    • In an episode of Star Trek: Voyager (1995), Sachs plays an alien named Valen.
    • In B5, Valen is the name of the Minbari holy figure who originally formed the Council.

Production & Filming Details

  • Director(s):
    • Michael Vejar.
  • Producer(s):
    • John Copeland … producer.
    • Susan Corbin … associate producer (as Susan Norkin).
    • Douglas Netter … executive producer.
    • J. Michael Straczynski … executive producer.
  • Writer(s):
    • J. Michael Straczynski.
  • Music:
    • Christopher Franke.
  • Cinematography:
    • John C. Flinn III … director of photography.
  • Editor(s):
    • Skip Robinson.
  • Production:
    • Babylonian Productions.
    • TNT.
  • Distributor(s):
    • Audio Visual Enterprises (1998) (Greece) (VHS).
    • Chum Television (all media).
    • Sandrew Metronome Distribution (2002) (Finland) (DVD).
    • TNT (all media).
    • Varus Video (1998) (Russia) (VHS).
    • Warner Bros. (all media).
    • Warner Home Video (2002) (Netherlands) (DVD).
    • Warner Home Video (1999) (Finland) (VHS).
    • Yleisradio (YLE) (2000) (Finland) (TV).
  • Release Date: 04 January 1998 (US).
  • Rating: PG.
  • Running Time: 94 minutes.
  • Country: US.
  • Language: English.

Video Link(s)

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