Starman theatrical poster
|Directed by||John Carpenter|
|Produced by||Larry J. Franco
|Written by||Bruce A. Evans
|Music by||Jack Nitzsche|
|Cinematography||Donald M. Morgan|
|Edited by||Marion Rothman|
|Distributed by||Columbia Pictures|
|Box office||$28.7 million|
Starman is a 1984 American science fiction film, directed by John Carpenter, that tells the story of an 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 which starred Robert Hays, Christopher Daniel Barnes and Michael Cavanaugh.
Launched in 1977, the Voyager 2 space probe carried a gold phonographic disk with a message of peace, inviting other 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. However, instead of greeting the alien craft, the US government shoots it down. Crashing in Chequamegon Bay, Wisconsin, the alien occupant, looking like a ball of energy, finds the home of recently widowed Jenny Hayden (Karen Allen). 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" (Jeff Bridges) has seven small silver spheres which provide energy to perform miraculous feats. He uses the first to send a message to his people about his craft being destroyed and that Earth is hostile. 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.
Jenny is initially both hostile and frightened of him, but the Starman assures her he means no harm. As they continue on their journey, the Starman, who has a rough understanding of English language from the Voyager 2 disk, learns to communicate with Jenny, who in turn teaches him that humanity is not completely savage. He explains to Jenny that he has three days to get to the rendezvous point, Arizona's Barringer Crater, or he will die. Intent on escaping, Jenny teaches him how to drive a car and use credit cards so he can continue the journey alone. However, when she witnesses him miraculously resurrect a dead deer, she is deeply moved and resolves to help him, but they are pursued by the authorities. 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. Down to his last two silver spheres, the Starman uses one to heal Jenny. While stowing away on a boxcar train, the couple make love. The Starman tells Jenny "I gave you a baby tonight." Jenny explains that she is infertile and cannot have children, but the Starman insists she is pregnant. He explains that the baby will be the son of her dead husband, because he is a clone of Scott, but will possess all of the Starman's knowledge and will grow up to be a teacher. He 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 realises 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 jackpot. The couple use their winnings to buy a new car to complete the journey to Arizona.
Meanwhile, Government official George Fox learns that the Starman's flight trajectory, prior to being shot down, was to Barringer Crater. Fox arranges to have the Starman captured, dead or alive, by the US military. Mark Shermin, another 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 kill him.
Jenny and the now 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. He tells Jenny he will never see her again. Jenny begs 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.
- Jeff Bridges as Starman/Scott Hayden
- Karen Allen as Jenny Hayden
- Charles Martin Smith as Mark Shermin
- Richard Jaeckel as George Fox
- Robert Phalen as Major Bell
- Tony Edwards as Sergeant Lemon
- John Walter Davis as Brad Heinmuller
- Ted White as Deer Hunter
- Dirk Blocker as Cop number 1
- M. C. Gainey as Cop number 2
- George Buck Flower as Cook (as Buck Flower)
- Ralph Cosham as Marine Lieutenant
- Lu Leonard as Roadhouse waitress
- Mickey Jones as truck driver
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, which became the highest-grossing film of all time, 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.
Release and reception
Starman grossed $2,872,022 in its opening weekend, debuting at number 6. The film grossed a total of $28,744,356 from its domestic (US and Canada) run.
Awards and nominations
Jeff Bridges was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Actor, marking 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.
|Starman: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack|
|Soundtrack album by Jack Nitzsche|
|Released||December 14, 1984|
|2.||"Here Come the Helicopters"||5:04|
|5.||"Do You Have Somebody?"||1:18|
|7.||"What's It Like up There?"||1:46|
|8.||"All I Have to Do Is Dream"||3:29|
|10.||"I Gave You a Baby"||2:11|
In popular culture
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 in the manner in which the Starman from the film departs Earth. The music video itself contains scenes which pay homage to several Jeff Bridges films, including Tron and King Kong.
- "'Starman' stirs up a storm from sci-fi fans and experts". Chicago Tribune. January 18, 1985. Retrieved 2010-11-18.
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- "Golden Globe Awards 1985 Winners and Nominees". Retrieved August 20, 2014.
- AFI's "100 Years...100 Passions Nominees". American Film Institute. Retrieved August 23, 2012.
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- "Starman Album Information". Fast-Rewind.com. Retrieved August 5, 2010.
- "Dan Black - Symphonies music video". Polydor Ltd. Retrieved 25 September 2010.
- Starman at the Internet Movie Database
- Starman at the TCM Movie Database
- Starman at Rotten Tomatoes
- Starman at AllMovie
- Starman at theofficialjohncarpenter.com
- LA Weekly interview with John Carpenter on the making of Starman
- Karen Allen: An ACME Page - includes a Starman page