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Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Roland Emmerich|
|Produced by||Dean Devlin
Joel B. Michaels
|Written by||Roland Emmerich
|Music by||David Arnold|
|Cinematography||Karl Walter Lindenlaub|
|Editing by||Derek Brechin
Michael J. Duthie
Centropolis Film Productions
Artisan Entertainment(1999 DVD release only)
|Running time||121 minutes|
Stargate (French: Stargate, la porte des étoiles) is a 1994 American Frenchadventure-military science fiction film released through Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (MGM) and Carolco Pictures. Created by Dean Devlin and Roland Emmerich, the film is the first release in the Stargate franchise. Directed by Roland Emmerich, the film stars Kurt Russell, James Spader, Jaye Davidson, Carlos Lauchu, Djimon Hounsou, Erick Avari, Alexis Cruz, Mili Avital, John Diehl, French Stewart, and Viveca Lindfors. The plot centers around the premise of a "Stargate", an ancient ring-shaped device that creates a wormhole enabling travel to a similar device elsewhere in the universe. The film's central plot explores the theory of extraterrestrial beings having an influence upon human civilization.
The film had a mixed initial critical reception, earning both praise and criticism for its atmosphere, story, characters, and graphic content. Nevertheless, Stargate gained a cult following and became a commercial success worldwide. Devlin and Emmerich gave the rights to the franchise to MGM when they were working on their 1996 film Independence Day (the rights to the Stargate film are currently owned by StudioCanal, with Lions Gate Entertainment handling most distribution in terms of international theatrical and worldwide home video releases); however, MGM retains the domestic television rights.
The film begins in 1928, where Professor Langford discovers a massive cover-stone ring in the sands of Giza, Egypt. In the present day, Langford's daughter Catherine offers Egyptologist Daniel Jackson, a down-on-his-luck linguistics professor, the chance to translate ancient Egyptian hieroglyphs that may prove his controversial theory regarding the Pyramid of Khufu. Jackson accepts and travels to a US Air Force installation inside Creek Mountain, Colorado. Jackson translates the hieroglyphs on the stone ring's coverstones, which read: "A million years into the sky is Ra. Sealed and buried for all time, his Stargate." Formerly retired Special Forces Colonel Jack O'Neil arrives to take command of the project and declares it classified.
Jackson deduces that the symbols are star constellations that are coordinates for a location within space. The sequence is entered into the stargate, creating a wormhole to a location in another galaxy. Catherine gives Jackson the eye-of-Ra medallion she originally got from the discovery site. After O'Neil leads a team through the Stargate, they find themselves inside a pyramid in the middle of vast sand dunes. Jackson reveals they cannot dial home because the Stargate coordinates to go back to Earth are missing. Some team members stay at the pyramid while Jackson, O'Neil, and others go out and discover a mining village inhabited by humans who, when they see Jackson's medallion, assume them to be gods sent by Ra.
Jackson realizes that the people speak a dialect of Ancient Egyptian and begins communicating with them. He discovers that writing is forbidden to these people. The team develops friendships with the people: O'Neil with Skaara; Kawalsky and Ferretti with Skaara's friends; and Jackson (not knowing why he is suddenly bathed and perfumed by the leader's servants) begins an unintended budding romance with Sha'uri, a daughter of the leader. Discovering that Sha'uri has some experience with drawn symbols, Jackson indicates to her that he wants to see more signs, and with her help leaves the city and learns from hieroglyphs in the people's hidden catacombs how the Egyptian god Ra was actually an alien lifeform who had abandoned his dying world to seek a cure for his own mortality, and had finally come to earth, where he "possessed" the body of one human youth like a parasite, and enslaved humans with his advanced technology. While these humans eventually rebelled and buried the Stargate, thousands of others had been taken to the other planet through the Stargate and used to mine the quartzite-like mineral on which all of Ra's technology is based. Fearing another rebellion on this planet, Ra outlawed reading and writing. At this point, the team from Earth discovers the cartouche containing the symbols required to get back to Earth, but the seventh symbol at the bottom is eroded away.
O'Neil orders the team to return to the pyramid. A short time later, a huge pyramidal-form spacecraft descends over the pyramid, covering it entirely. All team members in the pyramid are either killed or taken into the pyramidal craft by means of transport-rings made of the power-mineral. O'Neil and Jackson are escorted to the throne room, where they meet Ra. Despite wearing fearsome armor in the forms of Anubis and Horus, Ra's guards and servants are human; a blue-jewelled button on each of their wrist-guards is activated to retract the metallic god-masks over their heads and into their collars. Ra retracts his own imperious metal head-mask. He appears to be a human youth, but the whites of his eyes frequently glow with light. Ra reveals his intention to send the atomic bomb brought by O'Neil, which was to be used to destroy the Stargate to prevent invasion if a threat is discovered, back to Earth; its destructive power is now to be enhanced 100-fold with an accompanying shipment of his quartzite-like material to produce cataclysmic results. O'Neil attempts to disarm the guards and kill Ra, but relents when Ra uses his children courtiers as human shields. Jackson is killed during the altercation. O'Neil is thrown into a dungeon with the captured team members, while Jackson is regenerated in a sarcophagus-like device. Ra states that he will kill Jackson and everyone who has seen him unless Jackson kills the rest of the team to show the villagers that Ra is their one true god.
However, once Ra has the local people gathered before the pyramid craft, several young villagers signal to Jackson that they have recovered the team's weapons. Jackson, who has been handed a guard's staff-weapon for the execution, swiftly turns and shoots at Ra while the kids create a diversion. O'Neil, Jackson, and the rest of the team flee the site of Ra's ship and take shelter in a cave with the boys. The next morning, when Skaara draws a picture of the people's victory against Ra, Jackson realizes that part of this drawing depicts the seventh symbol needed to reactivate the Stargate: three moons over a pyramid.
O'Neil and the resistance youths disguised as slave-workers, by suddenly overpowering and killing their overseers and retracting the metal god-masks they wore, convince the locals that their "gods" are mere mortals and, with their help, O'Neil, Jackson, and the remaining members of the team make it back to the Stargate hoping to deactivate the bomb. Ra executes one of his guards for failure to find them. When the locals begin an open rebellion against Ra's troops, Ra decides to retreat and prepares his ship for takeoff. Sha'uri is killed in the battle, but Jackson using a dead guard's wrist-mechanism activates the ring transporter and resurrects her in Ra's sarcophagus. Ra meanwhile orders the bomb and minerals to be sent to earth immediately. His chief guard boasts that he will do it himself, activates the transporter rings, descends to the stargate chamber and battles O'Neil. Jackson in the ship takes the unconscious Sha'uri to the transport site and manages to escape execution there by Ra when O'Neil, having overpowered the chief guard and holding him down, activates the guard's ring transporter control-button with his foot, simultaneously transporting the guard's head up to the ship and Jackson with Sha'uri down to the stargate chamber. Ra's craft rises off the pyramid. Unable to deactivate the bomb apparently because Ra had rendered it impossible, O'Neil and Jackson transport the bomb via the rings to Ra's ship in orbit where it explodes, killing Ra. Jackson decides to remain on the planet with Sha'uri, and the team is able to return to Earth through the Stargate.
The Director's cut had several scenes which were cut from the theatrical film version. The first such scene took place immediately after the excavation of the Stargate in 1928 and showed petrified Horus guards near the cover stones; the producers had tried to introduce the idea that beings had attempted to come through the Stargate after its burial, but they cut the scene for time concerns.
Stargate had a budget of $55 million.
The film was originally planned to play out in a chronological order, but when Devlin and Emmerich edited the film to tighten the narrative, they decided to change the first scene of the film into a flashback to show who the human host of Ra was before the aliens took him. Only Jaye Davidson's upper torso was filmed because Davidson had refused to take out his nipple rings. The first scene was a combination of model shots and a set in Yuma, Arizona where Rambo: First Blood Part II had been filmed. The scene of the excavation of the Stargate was also filmed in three days in Arizona. A golden look was achieved by filming near the time of sunset. To keep within the limit of the budget, the producers put stick figures with cloth in the distant desert to appear as humans. The original Stargate was painted black, but it looked like a giant tire so it was repainted silver at the last moment.
Daniel Jackson's lecture on his theories was filmed in a hotel in Los Angeles. The scene was originally much longer and delved more into the theories that aliens had built the Egyptian pyramids, but the scene was trimmed for time concerns for the release. The scenes with O'Neil at his house were the first scenes filmed with Kurt Russell; his hair was cut short afterwards. Russell requested his hair color to be brightened a little for the film. The fictional facility housing the Stargate was the largest set for the film, located in Long Beach, California. Egyptologist Stuart Tyson Smith joined production to make all Ancient Egyptian hieroglyphics and spoken language as accurate as possible.
Stargate began as two separate films that Emmerich and Devlin conceived separately. Emmerich's film, Necropolis: City of the Dead, was about a spaceship being buried under the Great Pyramid of Egypt and Devlin's unnamed film was to be, in his words, "Lawrence of Arabia on another planet." The two films were combined to become Stargate.
The mask of the pharaoh in the opening credits was made out of fiber glass and modeled in the workshop. The sequence used a motion-control camera to give better depth of field. The score of Stargate was composer David Arnold's first work on an American feature film. When Devlin and Emmerich first flew to London to meet with Arnold, they had not yet heard the score; hearing it, they felt "he had elevated the film to a whole other level". Arnold later interviewed the actors during principal photography, using the information to improve his score.
Jeff Kleiser and a special effects team of 40 people created the look of the Stargate. They used self-written image-creation and compositing software, as well as commercial digital packages to create the Stargate, the morphing helmets worn by Ra and the Horus guards, and the cityscape of Nagada. Footprints in the sand were often digitally removed. The creation of the wormhole, which was fully digitized, was one of the biggest challenges in the making of the film. The ripples had to be digitized to seem accurate. Scanning lasers were lined up parallel to the gate to illustrate the amount of body that passed the surface of the Stargate plane. Afterwards, the parts of the body that had or had not yet gone through the gate (depending of the side of filming) were obliterated with a digital matte program. The use of computers generating a big 3D storyboard allowed Emmerich to try out different shooting angles before settling on one angle.
The soundtrack was composed by David Arnold, played by the Sinfonia of London and conducted by Nicholas Dodd. It was the second motion picture Arnold had composed and the first major motion picture. At the time of Stargate's production, David Arnold had recently started to work in a local video store in London. Once Arnold got the job, he spent several months in a hotel room working on the soundtrack, spending more time rewriting the music and improving it as delays were being created due to film companies trying to get the rights to release the film. According to Arnold "when I first read the script for StarGate, I knew what approach to take, which was to be as big and bold as possible," he kept on saying:
|“||"Every time there was an amazing sight, the characters would stand back and say, 'Oh my God!' But James would just smile and walk towards it. That was the basis for the Stargate score, moving forward with a sense of majesty instead of being frightened by what's around the corner."||”|
The film received mixed reviews upon its release in 1994, though in recent years it has become a cult classic and now has a reputation as one of the best releases in the Stargate series. The film was released on October 28, 1994 in the United States and released internationally in December of the same year. Stargate has a MPAA Rating of PG-13 for sci-fi action violence. It is rated 14A in Canada for violence. Later in 1995 the film was released on VHS format and on DVD in June 18, 1997. However the DVD format was re-released in October 1999 under the title Stargate Special Edition. The film was released on Blu-ray format on August 29, 2006.
The film received a warmer reception from the public, grossing $71.5 million at the US box office and $125 million in the rest of the world. At the time, the film set a record for the highest-grossing opening weekend for a film released in the month of October.
In its first run, Stargate made more money than film industry insiders predicted, especially given its lukewarm reviews. Some regard it as Emmerich's breakthrough film. Stargate grossed over $16,651,000 in the United States during its opening week in October 1994. It was the 35th highest-grossing film opening in the US in October. From 4-6 November, the film grossed around $12,368,700, declining 25%. The film would continue this decline until the end of November, when the film garnered $4,777,198, or a 8.2% rise. The week before that the film garnered around $4,413,420, a 45.6% decline. In its last week playing theatrically, the film garnered around $1,170,500 in the US.
Stargate has garnered mostly mixed reviews. In the Rotten Tomatoes main "T-Meter Critics" section, 50% of critics gave the film a positive review based on 44 reviews, with an average rating of 5.3 out of 10. On its "Top Critics" section, it was lower with 20% of critics giving it a positive review based on 5 reviews. For the "RT Community" section, it has 75% of critics with a positive review based on 171,050 reviews. Allmovie "Work Rating" is 3 out of 5 stars for the film. At MRQE, which assigns a normalized rating out of 100 from most critics, the film holds a score of 64 based on 95 reviews. Out of Emmerich's 22 works, Stargate is currently his 3rd highest rated film.
Most of the negative reviews focused on the overuse of special effects, thinness of plot and excessive use of clichés with Roger Ebert going so far as to say, "the movie Ed Wood, about the worst director of all time, was made to prepare us for Stargate". Ebert awarded the film one out of four stars, and even over ten years later Stargate remains on his list of most hated films. Mike DiBella from Allmovie said, "there simply isn't enough spectacle in Stargate to make up for its many flaws." The film peaked at number one on the Billboard chart Top Video Rentals on April 29, 1995. However the positive reviews stated that it was an "instant camp classic", and praised the film for its special effects and entertainment value, with Chris Hicks of the Deseret News calling it "Star Wars meets Ben Hur". Scott McKenzie from DVDactive said this about the film "it's a shame because the world created around the Stargate is compelling and detailed. It's almost enough to make me want to watch the TV series, but not quite." After the release of the movie, Emmerich and Devlin were sued by an Egyptology student, claiming he had written the story and given them the idea. The suit was later settled out of court.
|Product||Episodes||DVD release date||Blu-Ray release date|
|Region 1||Region 2||Region 4||Region A||Region B|
|Stargate||Film||June 17, 1997||September 7, 1998||September 15, 2004||August 29, 2006||August 4, 2008|
In 1995, Stargate was considered for various film awards worldwide. It won six of the ten awards it was nominated for.
|Academy of Science Fiction, Fantasy & Horror Films||Saturn Award for Best Science Fiction Film||Stargate||Won|
|Saturn Award for Best Costume||Joseph A. Porro||Nominated|
|Saturn Award for Best Special Effects||Jeffrey A. Okun and Patrick Tatopoulos||Nominated|
|BMI Film & Television Awards||BMI Film Music Award||David Arnold||Won|
|Fantasporto||International Fantasy Film Award for Best Film||Roland Emmerich||Nominated|
|Germany's Golden Screen Awards||Golden Screen||Stargate||Won|
|Hugo Awards||Hugo Award for Best Dramatic Presentation||Stargate||Nominated|
|Sci-Fi Universe Magazine: Universe Reader's Choice Awards||Best Science Fiction Film||Stargate||Won|
|Best Special Effects in a Genre Motion Picture||Jeffrey A. Okun||Won|
|Best Supporting Actress in a Genre Motion Picture||Mili Avital||Won|
Dean Devlin and Roland Emmerich always envisioned Stargate as the first part of a trilogy of films, but parts two and three were never developed. At Comic-Con 2006, 12 years after the original film was released, writer/producer Dean Devlin stated that he was in early discussions with rightsholders MGM about finally bringing the final two parts to the screen.
According to Devlin, the second film is intended to be set around 12 years after the original, with Daniel Jackson making a discovery that leads him back to Earth and to the uncovering of a new Stargate. The second movie would supposedly use a different mythology from the Egyptian one which formed the background to the original movie, with the third movie tying these together to reveal that "all mythologies are actually tied together with a common thread that we haven't recognized before." Devlin stated that he hoped to enlist original stars Kurt Russell (Col. Jack O'Neil) and James Spader (Dr. Daniel Jackson) for the sequels. The actors have reportedly expressed an interest in participating in the project.
The film trilogy would not directly tie in to the Stargate SG-1 series. According to Devlin, the relationship between the movie and the series is "we would just continue the mythology of the movie and finish that out. I think the series could still live on at the end of the third sequel. So we're going to try to not tread on their stories." Plans for sequels to the original film are unrelated to the development of straight-to-DVD movies made as sequels to the Stargate SG-1 TV series. Using some of Roland Emmerich's notes, Bill McCay wrote a series of five novels, continuing the story the original creators had envisioned, which involved the Earth-humans, the locals and the successors of Ra. See Stargate literature. According to Devlin, he and Emmerich had always planned to do three films with the potential for more, but MGM preferred to play out the television series first.
The CD ROM Secrets of Stargate, released after the film, shows how the special effects were made. The film included behind the scenes of the film and the showing interviews with the cast and the production members. Dean Devlin eventually gave Metro–Goldwyn–Mayer (MGM) the rights over the film, and author Bill McCay wrote a series of five novels based on Emmerich's notes, continuing the story the original creators had envisioned. In 1996, MGM hired Brad Wright and Jonathan Glassner to create a spin-off television series. Stargate SG-1 premiered on the American subscription channel Showtime on July 27, 1997 and ended its ten-season run in 2007. Stargate SG-1 itself spawned the non-canon animated television series Stargate Infinity (2002–2003), and the live-action television series Stargate Atlantis (2004–2009) and Stargate Universe (2009–2011).
SG-1 creators and executive producers Brad Wright and Jonathan Glassner altered the canon by introducing several new concepts during production of the SG-1 and Atlantis series. Most notably, many characters were portrayed by different actors in the series, and names were spelled differently. Daniel Jackson was played by James Spader in the movie and by Michael Shanks in the series. Kurt Russell's character Jonathan "Jack" O'Neil, a rather humorless Colonel, is played by Richard Dean Anderson as Jonathan "Jack" O'Neill (with two L's) in SG-1. French Stewart's character was named Louis Ferretti, in SG-1, Brent Stait's character is named Louis Ferretti. The spelling of Daniel Jackson's wife changes from Sha'uri to Sha're, O'Neill's wife from Sarah to Sara, (similarly, the name of O'Neil's son changes from Tyler in the film to Charlie).
The Stargate Command setting was transferred from the fictional military facility located in Creek Mountain, to the Cheyenne Mountain military complex. The unnamed planet from the film was named Abydos in the series and the distance from Earth changed from millions of light-years away (in an entirely different galaxy, "the Kalium galaxy") to becoming the closest planet to Earth with a Stargate, residing in the same galaxy as Earth. Also in SG-1, Stargate travel is limited to the Stargate network in the Milky Way galaxy (unless a tremendous amount of power is used to lengthen the subspace wormhole of a Stargate to another galaxy's Stargate). Ra was the last of an unnamed race in the film, being of a humanoid species with large black eyes and a lack of facial features. In SG-1 however, Ra is one of many "Goa'uld System Lords," who are a race of parasitic snake-like creatures. There were also changes to the Stargate. The unique set of 39 Stargate symbols in the film were replaced with the concept of 38 symbols that are the same for each Stargate (Earth's symbols based on Earth's constellations), plus a single point of origin symbol that is unique to that individual gate. While the kawoosh effect in the movie was created by filming the actual swirl of water in a glass tube, and looked like a vortex on the back of the Gate; on the TV series this effect was completely created in CG by the Canadian visual effects company Rainmaker. At the beginning of Season 9, the original movie wormhole sequence was substituted by a new sequence similar to the one already used on Stargate Atlantis, but being blue as it was in the movie and SG-1, whereas in Atlantis it's green.
While the Stargate device in the feature film has a plain quartzite surface, the device in the television series has lights set in each of the chevrons: red, blue, and white in Stargate SG-1, Stargate Atlantis, and Stargate Universe respectively.
|Wikiquote has a collection of quotations related to: Stargate (film)|
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