The whole premise of the Stargate franchise began with the feature film Stargate, released theatrically in 1994 by MGM. It was directed by Roland Emmerich, written by Emmerich and Dean Devlin and starred Kurt Russell, James Spader and Jaye Davidson.
- The text here describes the theatrical cut of the film. See below for information on scenes added to the film for the "ultimate edition" DVD.
The movie begins with a quick flashback to an archeological dig in Giza, Egypt in 1928, where Professor Langford discovers an artifact, a large metal ring with symbols all along the edge with nine chevrons, that has been protected by coverstones. His young daughter Catherine acquires an amulet.
In the "present", Catherine Langford is an old woman. After becoming the laughing stock at one of his seminars, where he proposes unpopular theories about the building of the Egyptian pyramids, Dr. Daniel Jackson, a radical, young, down-on-his-luck Egyptologist, is confronted by Catherine about a job decoding Egyptian hieroglyphics for the Air Force.
Meanwhile, Jack O'Neill is an Air Force colonel who has just been recalled to active service. O'Neill has recently experienced the death of his son, who accidentally killed himself with his father's gun. Consequently, O'Neill has become sullen and morose.
Meanwhile, thrilled at having achieving employment, Dr. Jackson travels to Colorado to accept Catherine's proposal. Inside a former nuclear missile silo, he is presented with the coverstones. He finds the translation of the hieroglyphics on the inner tract is wrong and corrects it, discovering the portion translated as "door to heaven" really reads "Stargate."
Over the course of the next two weeks, Dr. Jackson puzzles over the mysterious seven symbols in the center of the cartouche. Due to a chance incident, he discovers that these seven symbols are not words to be translated, but star constellation. When explaining his findings to General West, he states that the cartouche charts a course to a point in deep space with seven symbols—six for the destination and one for the point of origin.
General West decides to show Dr. Jackson the artifact discovered in 1928—the Stargate itself. After Daniel quickly discovers which symbol on the gate is the point of origin, the gate is activated, creating a wormhole between it and another gate "on the other side of the known universe." An initial probe is sent through the gate, revealing the planet on the other side can support human life.
The military is planning on sending a reconnaissance team, headed by Colonel O'Neill, through the gate, but the symbols of the gate on the other side are different. Dr. Jackson volunteers to go along so he can realign the Stargate on the other side, so the team can return to Earth. General West okays the mission and Catherine gives Daniel her amulet so he can bring it along as good luck. The team steps through the gate and comes out in an Egyptian temple of the desert planet Abydos.
However, the team is in for an unpleasant surprise when they discover Jackson doesn't know how to realign the Stargate, lacking the proper order of alignment or the point of origin for Abydos. Jackson believed another cartouche would be waiting right on the other side with this information, but this was not the case. Most of the men become very angry with Daniel when they discover they may not be able to return home, but unflappable O'Neill seems to accept this fate in stride and begins setting up a small nuclear bomb near the Abydos Stargate.
Meanwhile, Dr. Jackson has a run-in with a local beast of burden and is dragged across the desert. The team splits up with one half, under the command of O'Neill, heading after the hapless archeologist while the others, commanded by Louis Ferretti, stay behind at the temple. After catching up with Jackson, O'Neill and the others discover, just over a nearby hill, a group of primitive people mining naquadah, the same mineral the Stargate is made out of.
Upon spotting Catherine's amulet, which has the Eye of Ra on it, the people immediately begin worshipping the travelers, believing they were sent by the god Ra. The people take the team to their primitive walled city, which protects them from a coming sandstorm. O'Neill's team remains at the city overnight while Ferretti's forces are forced to retreat inside the temple due to the storm. Meanwhile, Jackson is unknowingly married to Sha're, the daughter of their patriarchal leader Kasuf, while O'Neill befriends Kasuf's son Skaara.
In the middle of the night, an alien spacecraft lands on a pyramid behind the temple and several armored guards round up Ferretti and the rest of his team. Sha're, meanwhile, leads Jackson to a room filled with writings. He discovers that the people of Abydos are ruled by an alien being posing as the god Ra. Ra, he discovers, has achieved immortal life inside a human body and forces the Abydonians to mine naquadah for his technology.
Charles Kawalsky finds another cartouche with the return coordinates in the same room. However, the seventh symbol has worn off and is now indecipherable. Convinced they will by trapped on Abydos forever, the team heads back to the temple, but O'Neill and Jackson are captured and brought before Ra. Ra presents them with the bomb O'Neill planted and Daniel is horrified to discover what the colonel had been planning. O'Neill attempts to kill Ra, but he is overpowered and Daniel is killed in the struggle.
However, Daniel awakens in a sarcophagus and confronts Ra. Ra tells him that he plans to send the nuclear bomb back to Earth with a dose of naquadah, making it powerful enough to, apparently, destroy the Earth. Furthermore, Ra tells Jackson to kill his comrades before the Abydonians, validating Ra's position as their god. If Daniel refuses to do this, Ra will kill him, his comrades and, evidently, all the Abydonians.
At a large public event, Jackson begins to grudgingly carry out the executions. However, Skaara reveals that he and the other Abydonian children have firearms from the team. At the last moment, Daniel turns his Staff Weapon on Ra and fires. The team and the kids retreat into the desert to hide from Ra. Jackson forces O'Neill to reveal his orders involving the bomb and explains Ra's plan to the others. When he finds Skaara sketching a drawing of their successful escape from Ra, Daniel discovers the point of origin for Abydos.
The Abydonian youngsters and the team advance towards the temple, but Jackson, O'Neill and Sha're are trapped inside. Kawalsky, Ferretti, Skaara and the others are trapped outside, where they are assaulted by two Death Gliders. Inside the temple, O'Neill sets the bomb for seven minutes. When Sha're is killed by a guard, Daniel uses the ring transporter to go aboard Ra's ship and bring her back to life with the sarcophagus.
After Jackson and Sha're escape off Ra's ship, O'Neill attempts to disarm the bomb, but discovers that it has been rigged. Meanwhile, Kasuf leads the rest of the Abydosians down on Ra's forces and Ra, realizing the Abydoians are rebelling against him, makes his ship lift off. In an act of desperation, O'Neill and Jackson send the undisarmable bomb aboard Ra's ship with the ring transporter. The bomb goes off, killing Ra and destroying his ship.
O'Neill and his men return to Earth, but Jackson chooses to stay behind with Sha're. Before O'Neill leaves, Daniel hands him Catherine's amulet and tells him to tell her that it brought him luck. O'Neill agrees and, after bidding farewell, steps through the Stargate.
(rated PG-13, approximately 120 minutes)
The original movie had a different actors playing some of the key roles than in the later series as well as some characters who never appeared in the series.
- Jack O'Neill's name is spelled with only one "L" in the original movie, but with two in the series. Also, his wife's name is spelled without an "H" in the series.
- Although two of Ra's guards are credited as "Anubis" and "Horus" (referring to their helmets which are in those shapes), when brought into the continuity of Stargate SG-1, they are really Jaffa guards and not as credited.
- Louis Ferretti's name is spelled with one "R" in the movie, but two in the series.
The following credits are incomplete.
Casting by April Webster, C.S.A.
Music by David Arnold
Digital and visual effects supervisor: Jeffrey A. Okun
Special creature effects created by Patrick Tatopoulos
Costume designer: Joseph Porro
Edited by Michael J. Duthie and Derek Brechin
Production designer: Holger Gross
Director of photography: Karl Walter Lindenlaub, BVK
Co-Producer: Ute Emmerich
Executive Producer: Mario Kassar
Written by Dean Devlin & Roland Emmerich
Produced by Joel B. Michaels, Oliver Eberle, Dean Devlin
Directed by Roland Emmerich
Conceptual Design Oliver Scholl
The "ultimate edition" DVD
Scenes added to the "ultimate edition" DVD:
- The film opens with Ra's host being taken from his village and then fades to the original opening at Giza in 1928. This scene was cut from the theatrical release and instead added into the scene where Daniel Jackson explains how Ra found Earth and took over a human body. In the "ultimate edition" DVD, footage from this scene is used twice.
- The scene where Daniel Jackson speaks to the other professors is extended.
- In the scene at Giza, a fossil of two guards that attempted to come through the gate after it was buried is found. It is later featured in another added scene where General West and O'Neill speak cryptically about how it "complicates things" now that they have "opened a doorway to a world we know nothing about."
- More scenes featuring Ferretti and the other soldiers are added. (see the note below)
Mistakes and Possible Explanations
- There is a logical flaw in the film. Since there are thirty-nine symbols on the gate and the first six symbols were known, it would take only thirty-three random tries to open the gate. However, there is a possible explanation. Since the gate actually has nine chevrons, it may have not been known that only seven chevrons were required to reach Abydos.
- Another logical flaw comes from the fact that in the movie, Abydos is supposed to be on the other side of the universe, however in SG-1, the reason given as to why Abydos is the only address that worked was because it was relatively close to Earth, in the same galaxy.
- The subtitles contain some grammatical errors. For example, "God" is capitalized when it's not being used as a proper noun and, when Ra explains how naquadah will "increase your weapon's destructive power," there is no apostrophe in "weapons" making it plural rather than possessive. The latter was corrected in the "ultimate edition" DVD.
- It is stated that the cartouche is ten thousand years old and Barbara Shore states that this is known since the sonic and radiocarbon tests were conclusive. These tests would determine the age of the stones, but not the writings on them.
- The stars in constellations only appear to be close to each from the point of view of Earth, so a constellation cannot be considered a single "point" in space.
- When the team enters the gate on Earth, the blast doors are closed over the control room in the shots in the gate room, but in cutaway shots of the control room, the blast doors are open.
- Stargate began as two separate films that Emmerich and Devlin conceived separately. Emmerich's film, Necropol: City of the Dead, was about a space ship 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 became Stargate.
- No DHD is ever shown in the film, making it unclear how Daniel Jackson managed to redial the gate.
- Though it is heavily implied, the film, contrary to popular belief, never actually states that Ra was the last of his race or that he built the Stargates.
- Ra seems to be certain what world the travelers had come from, which is based on the fact that, in the film, the Stargate only went to one planet. However, it is possible that he could have determined it through torturing the captives.
- In a scene in the "ultimate edition" DVD, Ferretti, when asked by the other soldiers why they can't turn the gate on themselves, says "we could turn the thing in the wrong order and materialize in the vacuum of outer space." This not only implies the existence of other Stargates, later established in Stargate SG-1, but also suggests that gates can be placed in outer space, as later seen in Stargate Atlantis.
- In the opening scene with the discovery of the gate in 1928, the language spoken is actually Swedish.
- Stargate has the distinction of being the first film to have an official website.
- Crew or equipment visible: The camera crew is clearly visible reflected in the dark sunglasses O'Neil and the rest of the team wear in the beginning of the movie. This is most noticeable in the Blu-ray release of the movie due to the higher resolution video.
- Continuity: Shadow sizes and directions in the desert scenes.
- Continuity: You can see 'Kurt Russell' 's shirt is already cut before the "kid" scratches him on the back in the last fight scene.
- Continuity: When Daniel and his team first enter the city, his pendant is tucked under his shirt, but in the next shot out of his shirt, then in the next shot, tucked back into his shirt.
- Audio/visual unsynchronized: As Colonel O'Neil tries to defuse the bomb, Daniel's mouth doesn't move when he asks "How much time do we have left?" and O'Neil's doesn't move when he answers "forty-five seconds."
- Revealing mistakes: In the first attack on the village, after the leader is knocked down by an explosion, a ship swoops down from the sky and the model's cables and guide wires can be seen.
- Continuity: The pace at which the bomb's timer ticks down changes several times.
- Revealing mistakes: When Jackson and O'Neil are brought before Ra and the guards knock them to their knees, the guard that "hits" O'Neil completely misses his knee and he does not fall until the staff is already past his knee.
- Revealing mistakes: When the transport rings are coming down on the last warrior and Ra screams, his fillings are visible.
- Revealing mistakes: When one of the Gliders flies over the city in the first attack, the cables holding it up are clearly visible.
- Continuity: When Jackson first picks up the "dead" Sha'uri, her legs are exposed. A brief moment later, they are covered.
- Continuity: Blood on Anubis's face when he is decapitated by the transport rings.
- Continuity: Cloud patterns changing constantly, and sometimes no clouds at all, between shots during last battle scene.
- Continuity: When O'Neil arms the bomb, he flips the toggle switch up from its downward position. Later, when he tries to disarm the device, the switch is down again and he once more flips it up.
- Revealing mistakes: When the team first exits the pyramid, Jackson presses his hands against the "solid" stone wall as if testing it for stability. The wall can be seen moving when Jackson presses it.
- Revealing mistakes: During the desert battles, crowds of immobile mannequins are visible in the background. (See also the trivia entry about this.)
- Revealing mistakes: When O'Neil kills one of the guards in front of Kasuf, the guard had previously been beating the workers with his staff. Although the staves are shown to be rigid in the battle scenes, here it wiggles and recoils after striking the worker, obviously made of rubber so as not to injure the actor playing the worker.
- Continuity: When Daniel is explaining the six point theory on the white-board, the shape of the cube and the six points vary noticeably between shots.
- Continuity: When Dr. Jackson and company encounter the guards in the pyramid, he is not wearing his glasses, however, in the next shot after the guard shoots at the others outside, we see Dr. Jackson with his glasses on.
- Continuity: When O'Neil is thrown into the watery prison cell, the second-in-command's dog tag jumps about between shots.
- Miscellaneous: John Deihl's character is continually referred to as "Lieutenant Kawalsky", however, his rank insignia is that of a "Lieutenant Colonel". A lieutenant colonel is usually addressed as "Colonel", and never a "lieutenant" since the Lt. Col rank is four steps higher than a lieutenant.
- Continuity: When Daniel Jackson reaches the other end of the stargate for the first time his face is all sweaty. In the next shot his face is completely dry.
- Continuity: Right before the team goes into the Stargate for the first time, Catherine gives her necklace to Daniel. Shortly after, there is a shot of Catherine watching them go, and you can clearly see the necklace still around her neck.
- Revealing mistakes: The three "moons of Abydos" seen above the pyramid are obviously images of Earth's moon, merely re-sized and rotated relative to each other.
- Continuity: The symbol for Orion that doctor Jackson identifies using the newspaper changes. In earlier shots it does not look like the symbol Jackson draws but when he goes over to the cover stone to compare the symbols they suddenly match. (Orion's arm and bow appear to make the symbol easier to recognize).
- Incorrectly regarded as goofs: Despite the amount of machinery used to activate the gate on Earth, none was needed on Abydos. The Stargate's ring spins like a combination lock. Once the correct symbol is aligned, the mechanism locks it in and the ring is twisted to the next one. All the machinery in the silo was to ensure that no one had to turn the ring by hand.
- Audio/visual unsynchronized: It is clear that the cat's mouth does not move the last time the cat meows onscreen.
- Revealing mistakes: When the team first gets to the village from the mine camp, Brown takes a picture of the town. If you look closely, you can see that the shutter on the camera is still closed.
- Anachronisms: In the opening scene, depicting a car from the 1920s, the sound effect of the horn is obviously of a dual-note horn from a modern car.
- Revealing mistakes: The candy bar that Daniel gives to the village leader isn't melted but still crunchy even after hours spent in the desert in his shirt pocket and being dragged through the sand by the yak-like creature.
- Revealing mistakes: When Ra looks out into the desert and states "The caravan is coming", we see the caravan moving in the distance, approaching the two obelisks near the pyramid. The shadow of the obelisks is at about 10 o'clock (with the caravan at 12). The scene then shifts momentarily to seeing the caravan approaching the obelisks from much closer to the obelisks. The shadow of the obelisks now point down, towards 7 o'clock.
- Factual errors: Dr. Jackson at one point refers to the writing as "heiroglyphics," which no self-respecting Egyptologist would ever do. "Heiroglypic" is an adjective. An Egyptologist would call the writing either "heiroglyphs" or "heiroglyphic writing."
- Miscellaneous: In the introduction to O'Neil's character, just before the camera pans to him sitting on the bed, you can see a diploma of some sorts next to his son's picture. The name reads "Tiger O'Neal".
- Plot holes: SPOILER: When the villagers assist in the Earth group's break for freedom, they seem to have quickly gained an understanding of how sub-machine guns are operated, without anyone's help. While the principle of "point and pull the trigger" is pretty obvious and could quickly be discovered, there is the issue of the safety catch, which would no doubt have been enabled while the weapons were stored. Linked to that, it would appear that O'Neil's soldiers all stored their weapons with the clips inserted and the guns cocked - something no soldier with any sense would do with a weapon being transported.
- Won Saturn Award for "Best Science Fiction Film"
- Won BMI Film Music Award (David Arnold)
- Won Golden Screen
- Won Universe Reader's Choice Award for "Best Science Fiction Film"
- Won Universe Reader's Choice Award for "Best Special Effects in a Genre Motion Picture" (Jeffrey A. Okun)
- Won Universe Reader's Choice Award for "Best Supporting Actress in a Genre Motion Picture" (Mili Avital)
- Nominated for Saturn Award for "Best Costumes" (Joseph Porro)
- Nominated for Saturn Award for "Best Special Effects" (Jeffrey A. Okun and Patrick Tatopoulos)
- Nominated for International Fantasy Film Award for "Best Film" (Roland Emmerich)
- Nominated for Hugo for "Best Dramatic Presentation"