Starman is a 1984 American science fiction romance film directed by John Carpenter, that tells the story of a humanoid 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. Touted as Columbia’s answer to ‘E.T.’, this magical, sweet and wonderfully-acted story of love between an extra-terrestrial and a human woman won the hearts of critics and audiences everywhere.
A gentle, kind alien (Bridges) crash-lands in Wisconsin and assumes the human form of Jenny Hayden’s (Allen) recently deceased husband, at least physically. Like a child, Starman is charmingly inquisitive, intuitive and unintentionally funny, accompanied by an awkward walk and jerking head movements with an almost emotionless, yet poignant expression. In order for the ‘Starman’ to return home, he must get to a rendez-vous point in Arizona, so, after her initial shock, the grieving Jenny agrees to drive him there.
The audience quickly grasps what Jenny does not: that Starman means her no harm. She spends the first half of her enforced trip from her remote Wisconsin house trying to escape. Starman repeatedly coerces Jenny’s help in escaping nasty government scientist-types (often very stiff and too hard-edged in their portrayal- namely National Security Agency baddie (Jaeckel), dissecting table at the ready), who wish to capture and study the otherworldly visitor and are perpetually hot on their trail. In contrast, the agents are led by curiously sympathetic Agent Mark Shermin (Smith), which works to the pair’s advantage.
Despite the obvious ‘E.T.’ modus operandi of the piece, this film has a different edge. As Starman learns how to be more human the alien begins to take on more and more qualities of Jenny’s late husband, ever drawing the woman closer to him and eventually falling in love. Now Starman must decide whether to remain on Earth and risk his life, or go home and leave Jenny forever.
Directed by: John Carpenter
Starring: Jeff Bridges, Karen Allen, Charles Martin Smith, Richard Jaeckel, John Walter Davis, George ‘Buck’ Flower, David Wells
Screenplay by: Bruce A. Evans, Raynold Gideon
Production Design by: Daniel A. Lomino
Cinematography by: Donald M. Morgan
Film Editing by: Marion Rothman
Set Decoration by: Robert R. Benton
Music by: Jack Nitzsche
Distributed by: Columbia Pictures
Release Date: December 14, 1984