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TheRaider.net Research Indy's Influences Legacy Stargate
 
Stargate
 

Released by MGM - 1994

Directed by: Roland Emmerich
Written by: Dean Devlin & Roland Emmerich
Produced by: Dean Devlin, Oliver Eberle, Ute Emmerich, Mario Kassar & Joel Michaels

Starring:
Kurt Russell .... Colonel Jonathan 'Jack' O'Neil
James Spader .... Dr. Daniel Jackson
Viveca Lindfors .... Dr. Catherine Langford
Alexis Cruz .... Skaara
Mili Avital .... Sha'uri
Leon Rippy .... Lt. General W.O. West
John Diehl .... Lt. Col. Charles Kawalsky

 

Before Dean Devlin and Roland Emmerich made the rather embarrassing Independence Day, and well before they released the utterly laughable and shameless Godzilla, these two filmmakers made a good movie. Yes, a good movie called Stargate. In the summer of its release it was competing with a powerhouse franchise, Star Trek, whose seventh film, Generations, was also in theaters. Stargate held its own that summer and did quite well. It has since spawned its own television series and a small following of fans. To movie enthusiasts, Dean Devlin's claim to being one of the first ten people in line to see Star Wars in 1977 well known. Therefore, it is no surprise that Stargate has many elements that are reminiscent of George Lucas' other famous series, Indiana Jones.


Excavation at Giza.

The plot is simple, but intriguing. In the year 8000 B.C. in the deserts of Egypt, a massive spaceship lands one night and its alien pilot enslaves the natives. In 1928, during an archaeological excavation at Giza, a group of Swedish diggers discover a massive metal ring with unknown glyphs on its surface. Now in the present day, a fringe Egyptologist and linguist named Daniel (played by James Spader) believes that the pyramids are much older than assumed and not tombs as traditionally supposed by scholars. Out of the blue, a woman comes to him and tells him that she wants him to translate some ancient hieroglyphs for her.

She takes him to an underground facility where she shows him a huge circle of stone tablets, each with known and unknown glyphs. He translates them and learns that the stones speak of the burial of a dangerous "stargate". Daniel also discovers that the unknown glyphs are actually constellations that point to coordinates on the other side of the universe. The woman shows him the actual stargate, the metal ring unearthed seventy years before. Using his knowledge of the glyphs, Daniel manages to activate the stargate and open a portal to an unknown world across the universe.


Daniel's first contact with
the active stargate.

Led by Colonel Jack O'Neil (played by Kurt Russell) a team of soldiers and Daniel enter the portal and arrive on a desert world with no way home, as the opposite stargate's glyphs are different. Daniel knows the only way home is to find someone or something that has these inscriptions. They find an exact duplicate of the Great Pyramid on the planet and they meet a community of natives who worship them as gods. At the same time, a massive ship descends from space, landing atop the pyramid. Daniel and Jack learn that the alien who commands the ship and the people on the planet is Ra, the Egyptian god of myth now revealed as a malevolent alien being, once ruler of Egypt, and using humans as a means of immortality.
While Daniel frantically tries to find the right glyphs to activate the stargate, Jack learns that the nuclear device he was ordered to use in the event that the alien world was a threat to Earth has been taken by Ra. The evil alien intends to send it back through the stargate one hundred times more potent and destroy those that rebelled against him so long ago.


Assault on Colonel
O'Neil's team.

This film is easily the most intelligent and thought-provoking film that Devlin and Emmerich have concocted. The ideas of the story that the pyramids are not actually tombs and may have been the work of aliens or lost civilizations, are very much in the vein of Indiana Jones. More specifically, it is clear that the filmmakers were highly influenced by the theories of scholar Graham Hancock, who has argued for years that there is evidence, which suggests that the pyramids are much older and more complicated than traditional Egyptologists claim. Ironically, Graham Hancock's own pursuits were heavily influenced by Indiana Jones, as he admits in his book, The Sign and the Seal, which documents his quest for the Ark of the Covenant after seeing Raiders of the Lost Ark. The plot of Stargate focuses more specifically on the theories that Hancock expresses in his other comprehensive study, Fingerprints of the Gods.


Horus-like alien soldier.

While the film takes these ideas to extreme levels, with aliens and other planets involved, the essence of the script is very much in the realm of Indiana Jones. The opening scenes of Spader translating the ancient writing to discover the deep implications of its contents feels very much like Indy translating Donovan's tablet in Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade. The desert landscapes and the dark cavernous temples and tunnels with ancient glyphs all have a Raiders of the Lost Ark quality about them. In the 1928 dig scene, watch carefully and see how the platforms the actors traverse to see the site are identical to the platforms the Germans use at the Tanis dig site as well as the way the camera dollies through the chaos of the endeavor.

It is these elements of Stargate that make it a compelling film. Yes, it is fun to watch Kurt Russell fight off huge Horus-like soldiers with laser blasters and see the swirling effects of the stargate itself, but the foundation of the film is the most fascinating element. Indiana Jones fans will find a lot to enjoy in this story.

For those who have superhuman eyes, John Rhys-Davies who played Sallah in Raiders of the Lost Ark and Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade supposedly has an unbilled cameo in the beginning of Stargate as a "Shouting Digger" from the 1928 dig scene. This is according to the Internet Movie Database, so see if you can spot him next time you watch the film. Also of note in the film is the cameo by Kit West, who is famous for working on the visual effects in the Indiana Jones films as well as Stargate. He can be seen in the opening of the film during Spader's lecture scene playing one of the skeptical scholars. (MF)

 

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