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Film / White Dwarf

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White Dwarf is a made-for-television movie that aired in 1995.

In a science fiction 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 is tidally locked to its star, 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 Terraforming, maintained by the "Regulators". The light side is a Victorian-style colony which has adopted the tropes of the American Old West, while the dark side is 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 political intrigue between the rulers of the light and dark sides, 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 picks up many of the tropes invoked by that film, and adds many of its own.

No connection to the British tabletop games magazine.

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: The planet's light and dark sides aren't good and evil. Although Strake makes a valiant attempt to turn dark to evil.
  • 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 he's 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/Darkness Juxtaposition: The planet is divided into light and dark halves, and the difference between these halves is explored.
  • Light Is Not Good: Just as Dark Is Not Evil...
  • 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.