Film / White Dwarf

White Dwarf is a made-for-television movie that aired in 1995. Set in the future, student doctor Driscoll Rampart expects to become a physician to the rich and powerful; but is required by his school to perform his internship on a distant, rural planet named Rusta, orbiting a white dwarf star. The world has a distinct oddity — it doesn't rotate about its axis, leaving one side perpetually light, the other perpetually dark; with a massive wall separating the two sides. Rusta is only able to support life due to Terra Forming, maintained by the Regulators. The light side is a Victorian-style colony which has adapted the tropes of the American Old West; while the dark side a Medieval-style kingdom. The story follows Rampart's character development from vain, arrogant snob to compassionate and caring physician. The movie also includes a side plot involving politician intrigue between the rulers of the light side and dark side; including a Hamlet-style murder, an association deliberately referenced by the assassin.

White Dwarf was written as an allegory of prejudice and ignorance by Wild Palms writer Bruce Wagner. Essentially a Recycled In Space retelling of Akira Kurosawa's film Red Beard; it follows many of the tropes invoked by that film; plus many of its own.

White Dwarf contains examples of:

  • Clap Your Hands If You Believe: The ritual at the Sea of Tears when Never's Proteus Syndrome threatens to kill him.
  • Dark is Not Evil: Although Strake makes a valiant attempt to turn it evil.
  • Doing It for the Art: Paul Winfield took a large paycut to help finance the film because he's a big Sci-Fi nut.
  • Empathic Shapeshifter: Never is a shapeshifter whose ability is the result of a disease known as Proteus Syndrome.
  • Genius Loci: Rusta is implied to be this, particularly the Sea of Tears, also known as the Blood of Rusta; though alien enough that it's never entirely clear.
  • Great Off Screen War: Some sort of conflict between Humans and the native Rustians roughly a half-century earlier is implied; but not elaborated on.
  • Knight in Sour Armor: Dr. Akada definitely fits this role. He's fully aware that Humans Are Bastards, thanks to his past; but is determined to do what good he can, to atone for his past.
  • Light is Not Good
  • Morality Pet: Never, to Dr. Rampart.
  • Pet the Dog: Driscoll Rampart's relationship with Never.
  • Royal Brat: Rampart is a classic non-blueblooded version.
  • Schizo Tech: Justified in that it's a terraformed colony in decay, replete with alien refugees, and colonists who adopt cultural tropes as fashion.
  • Screw the Rules, I Have Money!: Rampart attempts unsuccessfully to invoke this trope upon learning that he'll be serving his internship on a primitive backwater world instead of a prestigious private hospital.
  • Space Western: The Light side has elements of this.
  • Zeerust: Deliberately invoked by the retro-futurist Rustans.