Monday, 1 August 2011


1994 was the year that started the Stargate franchise with Dean Devlin and Roland Emmerich's film Stargate. It's in this film that, despite a few minor plot holes and differences to the series (which have surely been discussed to death elsewhere), we see the genesis of a fully-formed, fleshed-out universe for the story to take place in. Many aspects of this universe will later be reused as central tenets of the TV show, such as Goa'uld posession of humans, their impersonation of (or perhaps inspiration for) the gods of antiquity, and most importantly the use of a Stargate to create a wormhole to travel vast distances through space. We are also introduced to characters, settings, and technology that will become familiar (or at least recurring) in later years.

Dr. Daniel Jackson (James Spader) is presented as a crackpot Egyptologist with unorthodox theories about the builders of the Great Pyramids. Much of his behaviour in the movie would continue into the series (where he's portrayed by Michael Shanks), most obviously at the outset before Shanks began to take more control of the character.
Conversely, the Colonel O'Neil of the film (Kurt Russell) is a stoic, humourless opposite to the wry, joking O'Neill (Richard Dean Anderson) we would come to love in the series. Despite this, we do see the beginnings of his emotional healing - after losing his son to a gun accident before the events of the film, he begins to see Skaara as a kind of son, most notably when Skaara picks up O'Neil's gun, sending O'Neil into a protective rage - he doesn't want to see anybody else hurt themselves because of him (at least in his eyes, his son's death was his own fault). This theme is continued into the series, notably in the pilot episode, Children of the Gods, where, upon arriving on Abydos, O'Neill walks right past Daniel to embrace Skaara.

The film also offers the first glimpses of Anubis and Horus guards, staff weapons, death gliders, ring transporters, glowing goa'uld eyes, the Cheyenne Mountain complex housing the Stargate Program (called the Creek Mountain complex in the film), the MALP, and even the star map that's in the background of many SGC scenes in the TV show. At the time they all just seemed like cool elements padding out the stargate world, but they were integrated almost seamlessly into the series, elements such as the staff weapon being used every week by ex-enemy combatant Teal'c.

Nobody save the film's writers can say how the original 2 sequels planned would have been, but in my opinion Stargate is a great film that laid the foundations for an even greater TV series. Check back tomorrow when I'll have watched the Stargate: SG-1 series pilot, Children of the Gods!

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