An adventure across the universe.
"It's not 'Door to Heaven', it's... 'His Stargate'."
An action-adventure film, released in 1994, that later bloomed into the Stargate Verse
In 1928, a strange circular device
is uncovered in Egypt. Cut to the present day, where it somehow ended up in possession of the United States military. With the mind of the unorthodox, absent-minded archaeologist and linguist
Daniel Jackson (James Spader), they manage to figure out how to use that ancient device. What they learn is that this "Stargate" opens a wormhole, leading to a desert planet
A recon team led by Colonel Jack O'Neil (Kurt Russell
), and with Jackson along to reopen the gate from the other side, finds an Egyptian-style pyramid and primitive human society. While Jackson is struggling to identify the correct symbols to get the team back to Earth, the Sufficiently Advanced Alien
Ra (supposedly the same entity as the Egyptian god of the sun) appears on a humongous pyramid-like starship, using the alien pyramid as a landing pad. Declaring his intentions to eliminate the Eartheans
, it forces the team to cooperate with the natives to free them from Ra's tyrannical control.
Originally, two feature film sequels were planned, but they were scrapped by director Roland Emmerich and producer Dean Devlin in favor of Independence Day
. A lot of back story was written for the movie and the supposed sequels, which was eventually released in the form of several tie-in novels. However, when the sequel series Stargate SG-1
was handed to Jonathan Glassner and Brad Wright, the new producers threw out most of this behind-the-scenes backstory, while keeping the majority
of the actual on-screen Canon
The TV series it spawned was very popular and went on for 10 seasons — it is the third-longest-running scifi seriesnote
after Doctor Who
. The planet where this movie takes place was named "Abydos" in the series and other material, so if you are new to this movie and haven't seen the series and you see that name listed on this page or a subpage, it means the planet in this movie.
This film also has significance in that it was the first movie to get its own promotional website.
This movie provides examples of:
- Absent-Minded Professor: Daniel.
- Accidental Marriage: Sha'uri is given as a gift to Daniel. After he turns her down sexually, he thinks this is the end of it. Once he knows their language though, he hears Skaara refer to him as her husband and finally puts two and two together.
- Adorkable: Daniel.
- Aliens Speaking English: Notably averted — the only time in the entire Stargate franchise that this trope is not in effect — with Ra and the local humans speaking an Ancient Egyptian dialect throughout the film. Interestingly, the language isn't subtitled until Daniel learns how to speak it.
- All Animals Are Dogs: The Mastadges. Oddly enough, the one that dragged Daniel through the sand was actually played by a dog in that shot.
- Aluminum Christmas Trees/What Are Records?: Besides Everything's Better with Spinning, the idea behind the gate spinning to encode its coordinates was to draw the analogy with a rotary telephone for the viewership. This made sense in 1994, but in later media from The Verse it has become The Artifact.
- Ancient Astronauts: Ra. And the Pyramids were, indeed, landing platforms for spaceships.
- And Starring "And Jaye Davidson" (He plays Ra).
- Applied Phlebotinum
- Artistic License – Military: While the film's treatment of the military is far from accurate or flattering in general, there is one military error that could have been corrected by anyone with a little military experience. At one point O'Neil calls Kawalski, his second in command, "Lieutenant". Not only that, he's credited as "Lieutenant Kawalski" in the credits. The problem is that his rank insignia are a pair of silver oak leaves, which he wears throughout the entire movie in plain sight. Those silver oak leaves mark him as a Lieutenant Colonel, a considerably higher rank than Lieutenant. It can be presumed that filmmakers Emmerich and Devlin were simply unaware that you don't call a Lieutenant Colonel "Lieutenant" unless you want him very, very, angry at you. And if you don't want to use his entire rank, you'd call him "Colonel."
- Artistic License – Astronomy:
- Not only are the three moons too close to the planet, but they look exactly like our moon.
- They're also all in alignment (all on the same side of the planet at once) — the tidal forces on that planet would be insane.
- You can't — or at least shouldn't — use constellations for coordinates for a transportation system that can exist for thousands of years. Stars move — not much during our own lifetimes, over the course of thousands of years.
- The TV series uses this as a Hand Wave to explain why they never found any other gates until they thought to make the dialing computer take stellar drift into account. Apparently the DHD network as shown in the series does this automatically, so the symbols wind up being more like a phone number than coordinates.
- Most galaxies don't have names — and certainly not ones "on the other side of the known universe".
- The clear "map" they have the tracker move across when they open the Stargate makes no sense at all — the first issue of all being that it is 2-dimensional.
- Author Tract: Kind of? The writer really was into the whole "aliens built the pyramids" theory, so the whole movie could be seen as a theory about how and why.
- Background Halo: Ra invokes this trope with a classical Sun Disk.
- Badass Bookworm: Daniel Jackson.
- Berserk Button: To O'Neil, untrained kids handling firearms. Understandably.
- Bishōnen: Ra. (Which led to some Viewer Gender Confusion.)
- Blatant Lies:
Officer: Once on the other side, you would have to decipher the markings on their gate and in essence, dial home in order to bring the team back.
General West: Based on this new information, I don't see how we could do that.
Jackson: Well I could do that.
General West: Are you sure?
O'Neil: (mutters to West) He's full of shit.
- Bold Explorer: The recon team sent through to explore the worlds on the other side of the Stargate.
- Brand X: In the film, the gate is located inside a Cheyenne Mountain analogue. SG-1 ironically Retconned it to actually be Cheyenne Mountain.
- Chekhov's Gift: The lighter. There is a reflection when he gets it, and later they reflect the sunlight to let Daniel know they have a plan.
- Chekhov's Gun: Two of them — the pendant and the bomb.
- The pyramid with the three moons over it turns out to be exactly the symbol Daniel is looking for.
- Collapsible Helmet: One of the most iconic examples, with the scene where the Horus Guards, Anubis and Ra reveal their faces.
- Conspiracy Theorist: Daniel Jackson.
- Constellations: The film used the constellations as seen from Earth as coordinates for the gate's destination, marked as the 38 symbols on the rim of the gate. The subsequent TV series recognized the flaw in this idea (the constellations are not static and would look completely different from every planet with a gate anyway) and retconned them in various ways to make up for it, eventually settling on them being the letters of one form of the Ancient alphabet. Presumably they formed some type of comprehensible coordinate system when the gates were first built, but as the dialing devices periodically update to compensate for stellar drift they no longer do so.
- Conveniently Close Planet: Averted — the earth-like planet is in a completely different galaxy.
- Played straight in the TV series — the location was Retconned to within our galaxy, and the closest planet to Earth with a Stargate.
- Conveniently Precise Translation: The term "Stargate".
- Cool Gate: The titular Stargate.
- Cool Old Lady: Catherine Langford. Starting out as a little girl very interested in her father's Egyptian archaeology, she educates herself thoroughly on the subject as she grows up, and earns plenty of money, all so she can get her hands on the Stargate and solve the mystery her father never could. She rescues Daniel when it looks like his career has been torpedoed and convinces him to join her team. And when the military take over the expedition, she is quite ready and willing to stand up to them, even the general.
- Cunning Linguist: Daniel Jackson.
- Played for Laughs when the team first meets the people of Abydos and O'Neil tells him to communicate with them. All Jackson can manage is a nervous "Hi" before the natives see his Ra amulet and assume he's an emissary. Later on it's played completely straight where he learns their language in less than a day with some help from Sha'uri.
- He does note, however, that he can only learn it so fast because he knows the language in its modern form and is acquainted a fair bit with the ancient form, and merely has to learn where the language Sha'uri's people speak diverged. He's essentially taking a refresher course rather than learning the whole language from nothing.
- Cynicism Catalyst: Colonel O'Neil originally left the military and went basket case because his son accidentally killed himself with O'Neil's own gun. He only joins the mission to the alien planet (from which there is little chance of returning) because he's downright suicidal.
- Darkened Building Shootout: That building being the temple of the Stargate.
- Death Seeker: Jack O'Neil.
- Deus Ex Nukina: O'Neil reveals that he has orders to use a nuclear weapon on the Stargate should they find anything that might not be friendly on Abydos. The weapon is then captured by Ra, who intends to arm it and send it back through the gate to Earth with a shipment of Naquadah (called "Stargate material" here), which would increase its destructive potential a hundredfold. During the climax, the newly-enriched bomb is beamed aboard Ra's ship.
- Didn't Think This Through: Daniel just assumed the cover stone with the symbols needed to dial the Stargate back to earth would be nearby when they came through. He also didn't know what the seventh chevron (the point of origin) was going to be.(see also Idiot Ball) The fact that he didn't tell anyone this really pisses off the guys he came with.
- The military didn't really give Daniel time to think this through, using Conflict Ball. They pressure him into a snap judgement, merely asking if he can get them back despite the fact that he knows as exactly as much about the destination as the military does — practically nothing. Of course if they would have thought this through the movie would be lacking, and Tropes Are Tools.
- Distant Prologue: The movie begins in 1927, where a team of archaeologists and slaves uncover the gate.
- The Dragon: Anubis.
- Dramatic Alien VTOL: When Ra's ship descends on the pyramid.
- Dramatic Gun Cock: There's a LOT of this going on, especially for elite military men, and often with weapons that were already fully loaded and chambered (in the first encounter with the Anubis guards under the temple, the same guns get cocked over, and over, and over).
- Empty Quiver: Ra plans to send the nuke back through the Stargate.
- Energy Weapons : The staff weapons of Ra's personal guard.
- Engaging Chevrons: The Trope Namer.
- Enhance Button
- Eureka Moment: Daniel finally figures out that the symbols aren't hieroglyphs, but star constellations when he sees a picture of Orion on a guard's newspaper and recognizes the shape as one of the symbols.
- Evil Sounds Deep: Ra especially, but his guards are also in the James Earl Jones vocal range. The TV series would later reveal that members of Ra's species are capable of speaking in their human host's normal voice, but typically choose to use this deeper voice in order to intimidate both their enemies and their own human slaves.
- Fake Nationality: The inhabitants, who presumably should be ethnically Egyptian, are played by actors of various nationalities. Most of them are Hispanic.
- Floating Head Syndrome: See the poster on this page.
- Get On With It Already: Ra and his buddies only show up about an hour into the movie.
- Give My Regards in the Next World:
- God Emperor / God Guise: Ra uses alien technologies to pose as one. The Abydonians believe it to be true, but the humans from Earth aren't fooled for even a second.
- Grand Theft Me: Ra, as a dying alien, stole a human's body to achieve immortality via his technology.
- The Greys: Ra's true form is depicted as such in Stargate. The official explanation from the Stargate SG-1 showrunners via the Stargate RPG is that the Goa'uld calling itself Ra was inhabiting an Asgard when it took over the human host.
- Hollywood Nerd: Daniel.
- Humans Advance Swiftly: While Ra's been living the same lifestyle for thousands of years, Humans have been busy.
- Averted by the Abydonians, who have been purposefully halted in their technological development by Ra to prevent them from deducing his status as a fake god and revolting against him.
- Humans Are White: Strongly averted. The Abydonians are all clearly of Egyptian descent, which is really the only way it would make sense given that Egypt was where Ra got them from.
- Idiot Ball: As Siskel & Ebert point out in their review, the leaders of the Stargate program take Daniel at his word that he can bring them back...without asking him how. So of course, once on the other side, when they ask Daniel to take them back, he says he can't because they don't have the coordinate symbols and that he just assumed they'd be there.
- Imported Alien Phlebotinum: The Stargate.
- Infant Immortality: Harshly averted in the backstory; O'Neil's son died of a fatal gunshot wound suffered because he was playing around with O'Neil's service pistol.
- I Was Just Joking: Meta-example: Jaye Davidson did not want to act again after The Crying Game, so he demanded a million dollar salary, thinking it would be unreasonable. He got it.
- Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Jack O'Neil is a right ass for most of the movie, but it's only because his son died.
- Language Barrier: The Tau'ri Stargate team is unable to communicate with the Abydonians due to them speaking a derivative of Ancient Egyptian, whose script is known but not its pronunciation. Daniel Jackson is quickly able to learn the language after discovering a wall of hieroglyphics and having Sha'uri walk him through the pronunciation.
- Leaving Audience: The audience at Daniel's lecture laughs at him and walks out after he admits that even though he is certain that the 4th Dynasty Egyptians did not build the pyramids, he has no ready explanation as to who did.
- Let's Get Dangerous: Daniel acquits himself pretty well in combat, especially when he turns the weapon meant for executing his team on Ra and his guards, allowing him and the team, save for Freeman, to escape back to the village.
- Lost Colony: The humans were originally transported from Earth by Ra.
- Magic Countdown: In SPADES. As O'Neil tries to disarm the nuke, the timer has 45 seconds left to detonation. Then the villagers arrive on the horizon, charge the pyramid/temple complex, and defeat the 2 Horus guards outside. Ra witnesses this and decides that it is time to beat a retreat, possibly also realizing that the nuke has not been sent through the Stargate to Earth anyway and therefore will wipe out his pesky opponents for him, along with him if he sticks around (a moment of Fridge Logic there, but what the hell). Ra puts the sunroof up on the pyramid ship, takes off, and manages to achieve AT LEAST a low orbit by the time Jackson and O'Neil use his portal to send the nuke from the temple to the ship above. When the nuke arrives, there are still 6 seconds left on the timer. This must be the longest 39 seconds in film history. The brilliant bit is, everything moves so fast that the audience doesn't have time to question what point the countdown must be at — we are just rooting for the heroes to beat the clock!
- Mistaken for Special Guest: The team is mistaken for Ra's emissaries because of Daniel's pendant.
- Mysterious Benefactor: Catherine Langford is this to Daniel—sending a car to fetch him right when he needs it (humiliated, in the rain), summoning him to her darkened apartment, and offering him a job translating a lost language on an unknown artifact. Played with in that she doesn't stay hidden in the shadows during this meeting, at Cheyenne Mountain she's actually a visible member of the team (albeit merely overseeing), and Daniel even recognizes her when they meet. The job she summons him for, though, does remain mysterious, at least until after he cracks the code.
- Nepharious Pharaoh: The film uses the general imagery, although the bad guy was the god Ra.
- No Sense of Humor: Colonel O'Neil. Used for a joke in the television series, whose Colonel O'Neill actively distinguishes himself from the movie version.
SG1!Jack: It's "O'Neill," with two Ls. There's another Colonel O'Neil with only one L, and he has no sense of humor at all.
- Although one could argue that considering that he starts the film as a suicidal mess, his sense of humour returning at the end of the film is him finally letting go of his own personal demons. Likewise, he often seems bemused at Jackson's antics and during his interaction with Skaara and the Abydonian kids, so it's clear he's not always The Stoic.
- Nuclear Option: They send O'Neil in because they know any nuclear deployment will be last ditch and suicidal.
- Nuke 'em: Daniel finds out about the plan, which would kill all the locals to seal the gate.
- Only Mostly Dead: Daniel Jackson.
- Pet the Dog: About the only time any of the military members of the team treat Jackson with any kind of sympathy is after he first exits the Stargate, covered in frost and disoriented from the transport process. Even so, they probably only give him said sympathy because they just dealt with that themselves moments before.
- Portal Cut: Please keep your hands, feet, and head inside the Ring transporter at all times.
- Portal Slam: They ended up trapped on Abydos because they couldn't get the gate working due to not knowing Earth's address.
- Pre-Mortem One-Liner: "Give my regards to King Tut, asshole!"
- Prepare to Die: Ra is no longer amused...!
- Product Placement: Even alien ox-monsters love 5th Avenue bars. Which hadn't been popular for quite a while at the time of the film's release, so maybe Hershey's were hoping for a revival? (Didn't work so much.)
- Protected by a Child: Ra has a whole group of children trained to do this.
- Reality Has No Subtitles: Ra and the local humans speak an Ancient Egyptian dialect throughout the film. The language isn't subtitled until Daniel learns how to speak it.
- Recycled: The Series: Stargate SG-1
- Shell-Shocked Veteran: Jack is sent specifically to stay behind and detonate the bomb if something goes wrong. They know he has suffered tragedy and has nothing to live for.
- Shown Their Work: Kurt Russell gets a detail of military etiquette right that some people who actually were in the military often forget (or choose to ignore): you don't salute civilians. When the young rebels salute him, he clearly appreciates the gesture and wants to return it, but doesn't until his own men salute him so that he can salute them in return. Of course, he's also the one that made the aforementioned "calling a Lieutenant Colonel a Lieutenant" mistake.
- Sickly Neurotic Geek: Daniel. His allergies act up when traveling.
- He's apparently allergic to sand, considering the lack of vegetation on Abydos for there to be pollen from.
- Could just have sensitive sinuses in general. Thus not only are they getting sand in them, they're drying out. Ow.
- The Smart Guy: Daniel.
- Sufficiently Advanced Alien: Ra. Did anyone say "Goa'uld"? Hmm...
- Ironically, his technology isn't very good in the context of his own civilization but it works wonders on human biology.
- Tastes Like Chicken: The desert lizard thing the locals eat, according to Daniel. And you should see him trying to convey this to a group of people whose language he doesn't speak and who have never seen a chicken.
- Tastes Like Friendship: Daniel, basically when meeting anything.
- Tele-Frag: The movie's Crowning Moment Of Awesome. See Pre-Mortem One-Liner, above.
- Teleporters and Transporters: The Stargate and the not-quite-Star Trek ring transporter.
- Tempting Fate: "It's OK, it has a harness! It's domesticated!"
- This Is My Boomstick: The staff weapons are much more powerful here than in the series.
- Training the Peaceful Villagers
- Transplanted Humans
- Trapped in Another World
- What the Hell, Hero?: Daniel gives O'Neil one when he sees the nuclear bomb; O'Neil's team joins in once they find out what the plan with the bomb was.
- The Worm Guy: Daniel Jackson embodies this trope.
- You Didn't Ask: The team are not happy when they find out that Daniel admits he can't get them home, meekly explaining that he'd been under the assumption that the tablets with the address to dial home would be located near the Gate.
Kawalsky: "Find it?" What do you mean "find it?" You didn't say about finding anything?!
Daniel: Well, I assumed the tablet would be here, right here?
O'Neil: You assumed?!
Kawalsky: You're a lying son of a bitch! *knocks Daniel over* You didn't say a word about FINDING ANYTHING!
- You Have Failed Me: One of Ra's henchmen blunders. Ra punishes him by frying his brain with a hand device.
- You Have GOT To Be Kidding Me