Starman (film)

Last updated
Starman
Starman film poster.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed by John Carpenter
Produced by
Written by
Starring
Music by Jack Nitzsche
CinematographyDonald M. Morgan
Edited by Marion Rothman
Distributed by Columbia Pictures
Release date
  • December 14, 1984 (1984-12-14)
Running time
115 minutes
CountryUnited States
LanguageEnglish
Budget$24 million [1]
Box office$28.7 million (US only)

Starman is a 1984 American science fiction romance film directed by John Carpenter that tells the story of a humanoid alien (Jeff Bridges) who has come to Earth in response to the invitation found on the gold phonograph record installed on the Voyager 2 space probe. The original screenplay was written by Bruce A. Evans and Raynold Gideon, with Dean Riesner doing uncredited re-writes. Bridges was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Actor for his role. The film inspired a short-lived television series of the same name in 1986.

Science fiction film film genre

Science fiction film is a genre that uses speculative, fictional science-based depictions of phenomena that are not fully accepted by mainstream science, such as extraterrestrial lifeforms, alien worlds, extrasensory perception and time travel, along with futuristic elements such as spacecraft, robots, cyborgs, interstellar travel or other technologies. Science fiction films have often been used to focus on political or social issues, and to explore philosophical issues like the human condition. In many cases, tropes derived from written science fiction may be used by filmmakers ignorant of or at best indifferent to the standards of scientific plausibility and plot logic to which written science fiction is traditionally held.

Romance film film genre

Romance films or romance movies are romantic love stories recorded in visual media for broadcast in theaters and on TV that focus on passion, emotion, and the affectionate romantic involvement of the main characters and the journey that their genuinely strong, true and pure romantic love takes them through dating, courtship or marriage. Romance films make the romantic love story or the search for strong and pure love and romance the main plot focus. Occasionally, romance lovers face obstacles such as finances, physical illness, various forms of discrimination, psychological restraints or family that threaten to break their union of love. As in all quite strong, deep, and close romantic relationships, tensions of day-to-day life, temptations, and differences in compatibility enter into the plots of romantic films.

John Carpenter American film director, screenwriter, producer and composer

John Howard Carpenter is an American filmmaker, screenwriter and composer. Although Carpenter has worked with various movie genres, he is associated most commonly with horror, action, and science fiction films of the 1970s and 1980s.

Contents

Plot

Launched in 1977, the Voyager 2 space probe carried a gold phonographic disk with a message of peace, inviting alien civilizations to visit Earth. The probe is intercepted by an alien ship which then sends a small scout vessel to establish first contact with Earth. Instead of greeting the alien craft, the U.S. government shoots it down. Crashing in Chequamegon Bay, Wisconsin, the lone alien occupant, looking like a floating ball of glowing energy, finds the home of recently widowed Jenny Hayden. While there, the alien uses a lock of hair from her deceased husband, Scott, to clone a new body for himself as a terrified Jenny watches. The alien "Starman" has seven small silver spheres with him which provide energy to perform miraculous feats. He uses the first to send a message to his people stating that Earth is hostile and his spacecraft has been destroyed. He arranges to rendezvous with them in three days' time. He then uses the second sphere to create a holographic map of the United States, coercing Jenny into taking him to the rendezvous point in Arizona.

<i>Voyager 2</i> Space probe and the second-farthest man-made object from Earth

Voyager 2 is a space probe launched by NASA on August 20, 1977, to study the outer planets. Part of the Voyager program, it was launched 16 days before its twin, Voyager 1, on a trajectory that took longer to reach Jupiter and Saturn but enabled further encounters with Uranus and Neptune. It is the only spacecraft to have visited either of these two ice giant planets.

Voyager Golden Record Record containing information from Earth

The Voyager Golden Records are two phonograph records that were included aboard both Voyager spacecraft launched in 1977. The records contain sounds and images selected to portray the diversity of life and culture on Earth, and are intended for any intelligent extraterrestrial life form, or for future humans, who may find them. The records are a sort of time capsule.

Extraterrestrial life Lifeform that does not originate from Earth

Extraterrestrial life, also called alien life, is life that occurs outside of Earth and that did not originate from Earth. These hypothetical life forms may range from simple prokaryotes to beings with civilizations far more advanced than humanity. The Drake equation speculates about the existence of intelligent life elsewhere in the universe. The science of extraterrestrial life in all its forms is known as exobiology.

Jenny is initially both hostile and frightened of him and attempts to escape. Having a very basic understanding of the English language which has come from the Voyager 2 disk, the Starman learns to communicate with Jenny and assures her that he means no harm. He explains that if he does not reach the rendezvous point, Arizona's Barringer Crater, in three days, he will die. Sympathetic but still wary, Jenny teaches him how to drive a car and use credit cards so he can continue the journey alone, but when she witnesses him miraculously resurrect a dead deer, she is deeply moved and decides to stay with him. They are pursued across the country by the authorities and, after nearly being caught, Jenny is shot and critically wounded by a police officer. In order to escape, the Starman crashes their car into a gas tanker and uses another sphere to protect the two of them from the explosion. They take refuge in a mobile home that is being towed. He uses another silver sphere to heal Jenny. After being assured that Jenny will recover, the Starman proceeds to hitchhike towards Arizona without her, but Jenny manages to catch up to him while he and his driver are stopped at a roadblock. Reunited, the two of them hitchhike together, resuming their journey towards the crater.

Meteor Crater meteorite impact crater in the northern Arizona

Meteor Crater is a meteorite impact crater approximately 37 miles (60 km) east of Flagstaff and 18 miles (29 km) west of Winslow in the northern Arizona desert of the United States. Because the United States Board on Geographic Names commonly recognizes names of natural features derived from the nearest post office, the feature acquired the name of "Meteor Crater" from the nearby post office named Meteor. The site was formerly known as the Canyon Diablo Crater and fragments of the meteorite are officially called the Canyon Diablo Meteorite. Scientists refer to the crater as Barringer Crater in honor of Daniel Barringer, who was first to suggest that it was produced by meteorite impact. The crater is privately owned by the Barringer family through their Barringer Crater Company, which proclaims it to be the "best preserved meteorite crater on Earth". Despite its importance as a geological site, the crater is not protected as a national monument, a status that would require federal ownership. It was designated a National Natural Landmark in November 1967.

Credit card Card enabling payments from a line of credit

A credit card is a payment card issued to users (cardholders) to enable the cardholder to pay a merchant for goods and services based on the cardholder's promise to the card issuer to pay them for the amounts plus the other agreed charges. The card issuer creates a revolving account and grants a line of credit to the cardholder, from which the cardholder can borrow money for payment to a merchant or as a cash advance.

Deer A family of mammals belonging to even-toed ungulates

Deer are the hoofed ruminant mammals forming the family Cervidae. The two main groups of deer are the Cervinae, including the muntjac, the elk (wapiti), the fallow deer, and the chital; and the Capreolinae, including the reindeer (caribou), the roe deer, and the moose. Female reindeer, and male deer of all species except the Chinese water deer, grow and shed new antlers each year. In this they differ from permanently horned antelope, which are part of a different family (Bovidae) within the same order of even-toed ungulates (Artiodactyla).

Later, while stowing away on a boxcar train, the couple makes love. The Starman tells Jenny "I gave you a baby tonight." Jenny explains that she is infertile and cannot have children, but he assures her she is now pregnant. He explains that the baby will be the son of her dead husband, because he (Starman) is a clone of Scott, but as a child of Starman as well, their son will possess all of the Starman's knowledge and will grow up to be a teacher. Starman offers to stop the pregnancy if she wishes, but the joyful Jenny embraces him, accepting the gift.

The couple mistakenly travel too far on the train and arrive in Las Vegas. Jenny realizes she has lost her wallet. The Starman uses one of their last quarters in a slot machine, which he manipulates in order to win the $500,000 jackpot. They then buy a new car to complete their journey to Arizona.

Las Vegas Valley Metropolitan area in Nevada

The Las Vegas Valley is a major metropolitan area in the southern part of the U.S. state of Nevada. The state's largest urban agglomeration, it is the heart of the Las Vegas–Paradise-Henderson, NV MSA. The Valley is largely defined by the Las Vegas Valley landform, a 600 sq mi (1,600 km2) basin area surrounded by mountains to the north, south, east and west of the metropolitan area. The Valley is home to the three largest incorporated cities in Nevada: Las Vegas, Henderson and North Las Vegas. Five unincorporated towns governed by the Clark County government are part of the Las Vegas Township and constitute the largest community in the state of Nevada.

Quarter (United States coin) United States coin

The quarter, short for quarter dollar, is a United States coin worth 25 cents, one-fourth of a dollar. It has a diameter of .955 inch (24.26 mm) and a thickness of .069 inch (1.75 mm). The coin sports the profile of George Washington on its obverse, and its reverse design has changed frequently. It has been produced on and off since 1796 and consistently since 1831.

Meanwhile, National Security Agency director George Fox learns that the Starman's flight trajectory, prior to being shot down, was to the Barringer Crater. Fox arranges to have the Starman captured by the Army, dead or alive. SETI scientist Mark Shermin, another government official involved in the case, criticizes Fox's heavy-handed approach and reminds him that the Starman was invited to Earth. Appalled to learn that Fox is planning to vivisect the alien, Shermin then resolves to help the Starman escape rather than allow Fox to capture him.

National Security Agency U.S. signals intelligence organization

The National Security Agency (NSA) is a national-level intelligence agency of the United States Department of Defense, under the authority of the Director of National Intelligence. The NSA is responsible for global monitoring, collection, and processing of information and data for foreign and domestic intelligence and counterintelligence purposes, specializing in a discipline known as signals intelligence (SIGINT). The NSA is also tasked with the protection of U.S. communications networks and information systems. The NSA relies on a variety of measures to accomplish its mission, the majority of which are clandestine.

Vivisection dissection of a living subject

Vivisection, also known as V-section, is surgery conducted for experimental purposes on a living organism, typically animals with a central nervous system, to view living internal structure. The word is, more broadly, used as a pejorative catch-all term for experimentation on live animals by organizations opposed to animal experimentation, but the term is rarely used by practicing scientists. Human vivisection, such as live organ harvesting, has been perpetrated as a form of torture. However, as vivisection etymologically means a surgery on a living being, all forms of open surgery on living people are literally human vivisection.

Jenny and the now slowly dying Starman reach the crater as Army helicopters pursue them. Just as they are surrounded, a large, spherical spaceship appears and descends into the crater. Light surrounds the couple, and the Starman is instantly restored to health. As he prepares to leave, he tells Jenny he will never see her again. Jenny asks him to take her with him, but he says she would die on his world. He then gives her his last silver sphere, telling her that their son will know what to do with it. Jenny watches as the ship departs.

Cast

Jeff Bridges American actor

Jeffrey Leon Bridges is an American actor, singer, and producer. He comes from a prominent acting family and appeared on the television series Sea Hunt (1958–60), with his father, Lloyd Bridges and brother, Beau Bridges. He won the Academy Award for Best Actor for his role as Otis "Bad" Blake in the 2009 film Crazy Heart, and earned Academy Award nominations for his roles in The Last Picture Show (1971), Thunderbolt and Lightfoot (1974), Starman (1984), The Contender (2000), True Grit (2010), and Hell or High Water (2016). His other films include Tron (1982), Jagged Edge (1985), The Fabulous Baker Boys (1989), The Fisher King (1991), Fearless (1993), The Big Lebowski (1998), Seabiscuit (2003), Iron Man (2008), Tron: Legacy (2010), and The Giver (2014).

Karen Allen actress

Karen Jane Allen is an American film and stage actress. After making her film debut in Animal House (1978), she became best known for her portrayal of Marion Ravenwood opposite Harrison Ford in Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981), a role she later reprised for Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull (2008). She also co-starred in Starman (1984) and Scrooged (1988). Her stage work has included performances on Broadway.

Charles Martin Smith American actor

Charles Martin Smith is an American actor, writer, and director. He is known for his roles in American Graffiti (1973), The Buddy Holly Story (1978), Never Cry Wolf (1983), Starman (1984), The Untouchables (1987), Deep Cover (1992), And the Band Played On (1993), Speechless (1994) and Deep Impact (1998). He is further known for directing the films The Snow Walker (2003), Dolphin Tale (2011) and Dolphin Tale 2 (2014).

Production

Starman spent five years in development at Columbia. The original script by Bruce A. Evans and Raynold Gideon was purchased by the studio at the urging of executive producer Michael Douglas, shortly before it optioned Steven Spielberg's Night Skies. Screenwriter Dean Riesner came onto the project in late 1981 after director Mark Rydell left the project due to artistic differences with Douglas. Riesner worked on seven rewrites of Starman with six different directors, but did not receive screen credit because, according to him, "the Writers Guild, in their infinite wisdom, decided I didn't contribute 50 percent of the screenplay." Other uncredited writers who worked on the script were Edward Zwick and Diane Thomas. Columbia decided to abandon Night Skies, which was similar in plot to Starman, on the grounds that the former story was a more Disney-like story geared towards children, whereas Starman was for a more mature audience. Night Skies was eventually retitled E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial, [2] which became the highest-grossing film of its time, [3] [4] upon which Riesner commented, "Goes to show how wrong you can be in this business."

According to Riesner, producers at Columbia were concerned at the initial box office returns for E.T., feeling that Starman (on whose second rewrite Riesner was working at the time) was too similar. Adrian Lyne had briefly worked on the project before departing to direct Flashdance for Paramount. He was replaced by John Badham, who then left to direct WarGames as soon as he saw E.T., and concurred that the two projects were too similar. Riesner was charged with keeping Starman essentially the same while simultaneously making it distinct from E.T, and would work with three subsequent directors: Tony Scott, Peter Hyams and finally, John Carpenter. Whereas Scott was more interested in style than narrative drive and wanted to cast Philip Anglim, and Hyams pushed for a more conventional science fiction approach, Carpenter, who was eager to shed his image as a maker of exploitative thrillers, wished to emphasize the cross-country rapport that develops between the two leads à la The Defiant Ones, The 39 Steps, and It Happened One Night over special effects. Riesner dropped the "heavy political implications" from the script in order to comply with this. [2]

Parts of the film were shot in Monument Valley, Utah. [5]

Release and reception

Starman grossed $2,872,022 in its opening weekend, debuting at number 6. [6] It was released the same week as David Lynch's film Dune and a week after the release of Peter Hyams' film 2010: The Year We Make Contact . The film grossed a total of $28,744,356 from its domestic (US and Canada) run.

The review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes reports that Starman gained an 84% approval rating based on 31 reviews from critics, with the consensus reading: "What initially begins as sci-fi transforms into a surprisingly sweet, offbeat drama, courtesy of John Carpenter's careful direction." [7] The aggregator Metacritic gives the film a score of 71% based on 7 reviews. [8] Film critic Roger Ebert gave the film three stars out of four and wrote "Starman contains the potential to be a very silly movie, but the two actors have so much sympathy for their characters that the movie, advertised as space fiction, turns into one of 1984's more touching love stories." [9] In a highly positive review praising the film, actors and director, critic Janet Maslin stated "If Starman doesn't make a major difference in Jeff Bridges' career, Mr. Bridges is operating in the wrong galaxy." [10]

Awards and honors

Jeff Bridges was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Actor, making Starman the only film by John Carpenter to receive an Academy Award nomination. Bridges was also nominated for the Golden Globe Award for Best Actor – Drama and was awarded the Saturn Award for Best Actor. Karen Allen also received a nod for Best Actress from the Academy of Science Fiction, Fantasy & Horror Films. The film itself was nominated Best Science Fiction Film. Jack Nitzsche received a Golden Globe nomination for his score. [11]

The film is recognized by American Film Institute in these lists:

Soundtrack

Starman: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack
StarmanSoundtrackCover.jpg
Soundtrack album by
Jack Nitzsche
ReleasedDecember 14, 1984
Genre Soundtrack
Length33:05
Label Varèse Sarabande
Soundtrack
Review scores
SourceRating
AllMusic Star full.svgStar full.svgStar full.svgStar full.svgStar empty.svg [14]

The soundtrack to Starman was released on December 14, 1984. [15] [16] The album also contains a rendition of "All I Have to Do Is Dream" performed by stars Jeff Bridges and Karen Allen.

All music composed by Jack Nitzsche (except "All I Have to Do Is Dream," written by Felice and Boudleaux Bryant).

No.TitleLength
1."Jenny Shot"1:30
2."Here Come the Helicopters"5:04
3."Honeymoon"0:56
4."Road Block"1:38
5."Do You Have Somebody?"1:18
6."Pickup Truck"3:01
7."What's It Like up There?"1:46
8."All I Have to Do Is Dream"3:29
9."Lifting Ship"1:22
10."I Gave You a Baby"2:11
11."Morning Military"1:04
12."Define Love"1:33
13."Balls"1:10
14."Starman Leaves"7:04

Home media

The film was released Blu-ray on August 11, 2009.

Remake

In April 2016, The Hollywood Reporter reported that Shawn Levy will direct and produce a remake written by Arash Amel. Michael Douglas, who was a producer of the original, is also on board to produce, while Dan Cohen and Robert Mitas are executive producing, and Matt Milam and Adam North are overseeing the project for Columbia. [17]

The City of Prague Philharmonic Orchestra covered "Starman Leaves (End Title)" for their 2005 cover compilation album, The Science Fiction Album. The 2010 single "Symphonies" by Dan Black, and its remix featuring Kid Cudi, sampled CoPPO's cover of the song. At the end of the music video the lead character is beamed away by a bright circular spaceship, similar to the manner in which the Starman from the film departs Earth. [18] The music video itself contains scenes which pay homage to several Jeff Bridges films, including Tron and King Kong .

See also

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References

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  13. "AFI's 10 Top 10 Nominees" (PDF). Archived from the original on July 16, 2011. Retrieved August 19, 2016.CS1 maint: BOT: original-url status unknown (link)
  14. https://www.allmusic.com/album/r84611
  15. "Starman Album Information". SoundtrackNet . Retrieved August 5, 2010.
  16. "Starman Album Information". Fast-Rewind.com. Retrieved August 5, 2010.
  17. Kit, Borys (April 1, 2016). "'Starman' Remake In the Works With Director Shawn Levy (Exclusive)". The Hollywood Reporter .
  18. "Dan Black - Symphonies music video". Polydor Ltd. Retrieved 25 September 2010.