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Fire in the Sky

Fire in the Sky

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Fire in the Sky is a 1993 film based on an alleged extraterrestrial encounter, directed by Robert Lieberman
Robert Lieberman
Robert Lieberman is a Canadian director of movies and television series.-Biography:Lieberman was the founder of the legendary west coast commercial production company Harmony Pictures and has directed close to two thousand commercials, many of them winning awards. He has received countless Clio...

, and written by Tracy Tormé
Tracy Tormé
Tracy R. Tormé is an American screenwriter and television producer. He has worked for Saturday Night Live, Odyssey 5, Sliders, Star Trek: The Next Generation, Fire in the Sky and Carnivàle.-Sliders:...

 based on Travis Walton's book The Walton Experience. The film stars Robert Patrick
Robert Patrick
Robert Hammond Patrick, Jr. is an American actor, known for his leading and supporting roles in a number of films and television shows....

 in the leading role as Walton's best friend and future brother-in-law, Mike Rogers, and D. B. Sweeney
D. B. Sweeney
Daniel Bernard "D. B." Sweeney is an American actor.-Early life:Sweeney was born on Long Island, New York and raised in Shoreham by an educator father and a municipal government employee mother. He attended Shoreham-Wading River High School and both Tulane and New York University...

 as Walton himself. James Garner
James Garner
James Garner is an American film and television actor, one of the first Hollywood actors to excel in both media. He has starred in several television series spanning a career of more than five decades...

, Craig Sheffer
Craig Sheffer
Craig Eric Sheffer is an American film and television actor. He is known for his leading role as Norman Maclean in the film A River Runs Through It and of Keith Scott on the television series One Tree Hill.-Early life:...

, Scott MacDonald
Scott MacDonald (actor)
Scott MacDonald is an American actor. He is best known for his recurring roles as Captain Manning on short-lived series Threshold, Burley from HBO series Carnivàle, and as Commander Dolim from Star Trek: Enterprise, and as the title character from 1996 horror film Jack Frost.He grew up in Libby,...

, Henry Thomas
Henry Thomas
Henry Jackson Thomas, Jr. is an American actor and musician. He has appeared in more than 40 films and is best known for his role as Elliott in the 1982 Steven Spielberg film E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial.-Early life:...

, and Peter Berg
Peter Berg
Peter Berg is an American actor, film director, producer and writer. He is known for directing films such as Friday Night Lights, The Kingdom, The Rundown, Hancock and Battleship. He also developed the television series Friday Night Lights, which was adapted from the film he directed. As an actor...

 also star.

Plot


On November 5, 1975 near Snowflake, Arizona
Snowflake, Arizona
Snowflake is a town in Navajo County, Arizona, United States. It was founded in 1878 by Erastus Snow and William Jordan Flake, Mormon pioneers and colonizers. According to 2006 Census Bureau estimates, the population of the town is 4,958....

, logger
Lumberjack
A lumberjack is a worker in the logging industry who performs the initial harvesting and transport of trees for ultimate processing into forest products. The term usually refers to a bygone era when hand tools were used in harvesting trees principally from virgin forest...

 Travis Walton (D. B. Sweeney
D. B. Sweeney
Daniel Bernard "D. B." Sweeney is an American actor.-Early life:Sweeney was born on Long Island, New York and raised in Shoreham by an educator father and a municipal government employee mother. He attended Shoreham-Wading River High School and both Tulane and New York University...

), becomes the victim of an alien abduction. Walton and his co-workers—Mike Rogers (Robert Patrick
Robert Patrick
Robert Hammond Patrick, Jr. is an American actor, known for his leading and supporting roles in a number of films and television shows....

), Allan Dallis (Craig Sheffer
Craig Sheffer
Craig Eric Sheffer is an American film and television actor. He is known for his leading role as Norman Maclean in the film A River Runs Through It and of Keith Scott on the television series One Tree Hill.-Early life:...

), David Whitlock (Peter Berg
Peter Berg
Peter Berg is an American actor, film director, producer and writer. He is known for directing films such as Friday Night Lights, The Kingdom, The Rundown, Hancock and Battleship. He also developed the television series Friday Night Lights, which was adapted from the film he directed. As an actor...

), Greg Hayes (Henry Thomas
Henry Thomas
Henry Jackson Thomas, Jr. is an American actor and musician. He has appeared in more than 40 films and is best known for his role as Elliott in the 1982 Steven Spielberg film E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial.-Early life:...

) and Bobby Cogdill (Bradley Gregg
Bradley Gregg
Bradley Gregg is an American actor, director, writer, and producer. Gregg's first film was the 1985 movie Explorers, but his big role came in 1986 in the hit drama film Stand by Me as Eyeball Chambers, the older brother of River Phoenix's character...

); are engaged in forestry operations under a business contract to clear a wilderness area.

After completing a day's work, the men come across what appears to be an unidentified flying object
Unidentified flying object
A term originally coined by the military, an unidentified flying object is an unusual apparent anomaly in the sky that is not readily identifiable to the observer as any known object...

 on their drive home. Curious to learn more about the spectacle, Walton steps out of their vehicle, but is struck by a beam of light from the phenomenon. Fearing Walton was possibly killed after the encounter, the others leave the scene in horror. Rogers decides to make a trip back to the spot of the confrontation to pick up Walton, but he is nowhere to be found. Upon making their way back to the local town to report the incident, the loggers are greeted with skepticism, as they relate what sounds like an outrageous story to Sheriff Blake Davis (Noble Willingham
Noble Willingham
Noble Henry Willingham, Jr. was an American television and film actor.-Career:Willingham had appeared in more than thirty feature films, including Harry's War , Up Close and Personal , City Slickers , The Last Boy Scout , City Slickers II , Ace Ventura: Pet Detective , Chinatown...

) and Lieutenant Frank Watters (James Garner
James Garner
James Garner is an American film and television actor, one of the first Hollywood actors to excel in both media. He has starred in several television series spanning a career of more than five decades...

). They are suspected of foul play despite no apparent motive or knowledge as to Walton's whereabouts.

After interviewing the men, Lieutenant Watters deduces that tensions had arisen between Walton and Dallis, substantiated by a wound on Dallis's hand from a previous altercation between the two, leading him to believe there might be a murder investigation on the way. The Lieutenant also discovers a tabloid newspaper with headlines surrounding aliens in the seat of their truck, hinting there is a strong possibility they used the article to help concoct their story. Meanwhile, Sheriff Davis encourages the men to take a polygraph examination to which they agree and appear to pass; however, Dallis's test comes out inconclusive. The men are still accused of murder and are being threatened by Travis's Brother Dan Walton (Scott MacDonald
Scott MacDonald (actor)
Scott MacDonald is an American actor. He is best known for his recurring roles as Captain Manning on short-lived series Threshold, Burley from HBO series Carnivàle, and as Commander Dolim from Star Trek: Enterprise, and as the title character from 1996 horror film Jack Frost.He grew up in Libby,...

).

Five days later, Walton is found alive at a gas station, naked, dehydrated and incoherent. During a welcome home party thrown by his friends and family, Walton suffers a paranoid delusion as he recounts a flashback of the abduction by the extraterrestrials
Extraterrestrial life
Extraterrestrial life is defined as life that does not originate from Earth...

 aboard the UFO. In his hallucination, Walton wakes up in a cocoon-like setting attempting to escape his captivity in a suspended weightless environment. After discovering that he is not sedated or unconscious, the aliens drag him through a series of corridors to be subsequently experimented on against his will. Stripping him to his underwear and then covering him with a rubber-like sheet, which eventually pins him to an examination table, the aliens subject him to an extremely painful autopsy in which he is forced to endure an optical probe.

While briefly interviewing Walton, Lieutenant Watters continues to express his doubts on his abduction as merely an elaborate hoax. He notes Walton's new found celebrity status after his popularity increased by tabloids attempting to profit from his tale. The film culminates with a denouement between Walton and Rogers, with the UFO mystery essentially unresolved. The closing titles of the film inform the viewer that in February 1993, the loggers agreed to resubmit to an additional polygraph examination which they passed, corroborating their innocence.

Cast

  • D. B. Sweeney
    D. B. Sweeney
    Daniel Bernard "D. B." Sweeney is an American actor.-Early life:Sweeney was born on Long Island, New York and raised in Shoreham by an educator father and a municipal government employee mother. He attended Shoreham-Wading River High School and both Tulane and New York University...

     as Travis Walton
  • Robert Patrick
    Robert Patrick
    Robert Hammond Patrick, Jr. is an American actor, known for his leading and supporting roles in a number of films and television shows....

     as Mike Rogers
  • James Garner
    James Garner
    James Garner is an American film and television actor, one of the first Hollywood actors to excel in both media. He has starred in several television series spanning a career of more than five decades...

     as Lieutenant Frank Watters
  • Craig Sheffer
    Craig Sheffer
    Craig Eric Sheffer is an American film and television actor. He is known for his leading role as Norman Maclean in the film A River Runs Through It and of Keith Scott on the television series One Tree Hill.-Early life:...

     as Allan Dallis
  • Peter Berg
    Peter Berg
    Peter Berg is an American actor, film director, producer and writer. He is known for directing films such as Friday Night Lights, The Kingdom, The Rundown, Hancock and Battleship. He also developed the television series Friday Night Lights, which was adapted from the film he directed. As an actor...

     as David Whitlock
  • Henry Thomas
    Henry Thomas
    Henry Jackson Thomas, Jr. is an American actor and musician. He has appeared in more than 40 films and is best known for his role as Elliott in the 1982 Steven Spielberg film E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial.-Early life:...

     as Greg Hayes
  • Bradley Gregg
    Bradley Gregg
    Bradley Gregg is an American actor, director, writer, and producer. Gregg's first film was the 1985 movie Explorers, but his big role came in 1986 in the hit drama film Stand by Me as Eyeball Chambers, the older brother of River Phoenix's character...

     as Bobby Cogdill
  • Noble Willingham
    Noble Willingham
    Noble Henry Willingham, Jr. was an American television and film actor.-Career:Willingham had appeared in more than thirty feature films, including Harry's War , Up Close and Personal , City Slickers , The Last Boy Scout , City Slickers II , Ace Ventura: Pet Detective , Chinatown...

     as Sheriff Blake Davis
  • Kathleen Wilhoite
    Kathleen Wilhoite
    Kathleen Wilhoite is an American film and television actress, as well as a singer-songwriter. She also voiced the title character in the animated series Pepper Ann...

     as Katie Rogers
  • Georgia Emelin as Dana Rogers
  • Scott MacDonald
    Scott MacDonald (actor)
    Scott MacDonald is an American actor. He is best known for his recurring roles as Captain Manning on short-lived series Threshold, Burley from HBO series Carnivàle, and as Commander Dolim from Star Trek: Enterprise, and as the title character from 1996 horror film Jack Frost.He grew up in Libby,...

     as Dan Walton

Development


The film is based on the book The Walton Experience by Travis Walton. In the book, Walton tells of how he was abducted by a UFO
Unidentified flying object
A term originally coined by the military, an unidentified flying object is an unusual apparent anomaly in the sky that is not readily identifiable to the observer as any known object...

.

Walton's original book was later re-released as Fire in the Sky (ISBN 1-56924-710-2) to promote the book's connection to the film. The real Travis Walton made a cameo appearance in the film.

Filming


Unlike other movies of this nature, this film does not focus primarily on the more fantastical elements of the story. Much screen time is spent on the distress experienced by Walton's friends due to his inexplicable disappearance, and his reappearance in a seemingly disturbed emotional state. A major issue depicted in the film is Rogers' guilt about leaving his friend in the woods. The film was shot in Roseburg
Roseburg, Oregon
Roseburg is a city in the U.S. state of Oregon. It is the county seat of Douglas County. The population was 21,181 at the 2010 census.-History:...

, Sutherlin
Sutherlin, Oregon
Sutherlin is a city in Douglas County, Oregon, United States. The population was 6,669 at the 2000 census. Nearby features include Cooper Creek Reservoir, the Umpqua River, a few golf courses, and numerous vineyards.-Geography:...

, and Oakland
Oakland, Oregon
Oakland is a city in Douglas County, Oregon, United States located two miles from Interstate 5. The population was 954 at the 2000 census.-History:...

 (Oregon
Oregon
Oregon is a state in the Pacific Northwest region of the United States. It is located on the Pacific coast, with Washington to the north, California to the south, Nevada on the southeast and Idaho to the east. The Columbia and Snake rivers delineate much of Oregon's northern and eastern...

) between August and October 1992 for a production cost of $15 million, but is not connected to a 1978 telefilm of the same name, though coincidentally it is also set in Arizona. The special effects in the film were coordinated by Industrial Light & Magic, and the cinematography
Cinematography
Cinematography is the making of lighting and camera choices when recording photographic images for cinema. It is closely related to the art of still photography...

 was handled by Bill Pope
Bill Pope
William Homer "Bill" Pope, A.S.C. is an award-winning American cinematographer, best known for his work on Sam Raimi's films and the Matrix trilogy.-Filmography:1989 - Pet Sematary1990 - Darkman1991 - Closet Land...

.

The X-Files
The X-Files
The X-Files is an American science fiction television series and a part of The X-Files franchise, created by screenwriter Chris Carter. The program originally aired from to . The show was a hit for the Fox network, and its characters and slogans became popular culture touchstones in the 1990s...

creator Chris Carter
Chris Carter (screenwriter)
Christopher Carl Carter is an American screenwriter, film director and producer. He is the creator of The X-Files and Millennium.- Ten Thirteen Productions :...

 was impressed by Patrick's performance in the film, which lead to his casting Patrick as FBI Special agent John Doggett
John Doggett
FBI Special agent John Jay Doggett is a fictional character in the American Fox television series The X-Files, a science fiction show about a government conspiracy to hide or deny the truth of alien existence...

 for the show's eighth season in 2000. MSNBC
MSNBC
MSNBC is a cable news channel based in the United States available in the US, Germany , South Africa, the Middle East and Canada...

 covered the film in a 2009 article on alien abductions in film, ranking it number seven of ten and describing the scenes in question as "harrowing" and "genuinely frightening." They also praised Torme and Lieberman
Robert Lieberman
Robert Lieberman is a Canadian director of movies and television series.-Biography:Lieberman was the founder of the legendary west coast commercial production company Harmony Pictures and has directed close to two thousand commercials, many of them winning awards. He has received countless Clio...

's writing, declaring; "Credit should go to screenwriter Tracy Torme and director Robert Lieberman, as they were called upon to punch up Walton’s original account."

Music and soundtrack


The original music score for the film was composed and arranged by Mark Isham
Mark Isham
Mark Isham is an American trumpeter, synthesist, and film composer. He works in a variety of genres, including jazz, electronic, and film.-Life and career:...

. The audio soundtrack was released in Compact Disc
Compact Disc
The Compact Disc is an optical disc used to store digital data. It was originally developed to store and playback sound recordings exclusively, but later expanded to encompass data storage , write-once audio and data storage , rewritable media , Video Compact Discs , Super Video Compact Discs ,...

 format on March 30, 1993.

Critical reception


Despite mixed critical reviews upon release, Fire in the Sky has gone on to be described as a cult favorite among science fiction
Science fiction
Science fiction is a genre of fiction dealing with imaginary but more or less plausible content such as future settings, futuristic science and technology, space travel, aliens, and paranormal abilities...

 fans, with many praising the alien abduction scenes as being among the most well-executed in the history of film. Prominent critic Roger Ebert
Roger Ebert
Roger Joseph Ebert is an American film critic and screenwriter. He is the first film critic to win a Pulitzer Prize for Criticism.Ebert is known for his film review column and for the television programs Sneak Previews, At the Movies with Gene Siskel and Roger Ebert, and Siskel and Ebert and The...

 offered a mildly positive review, exclaiming; "The scenes inside the craft are really very good. They convincingly depict a reality I haven't seen in the movies before, and for once I did believe that I was seeing something truly alien, and not just a set decorator's daydreams." He disliked certain aspects of the film though noting, "the movie's flaw is that there's not enough detail about the aliens, and the movie ends on an inconclusive and frustrating note." Ironically, the scenes so praised by Ebert bear almost no resemblance to Walton's actual claims. Walton claimed to have flown the ship at the end of the "abduction" event, which was not portrayed in the film. Scriptwriter Tracy Tormé
Tracy Tormé
Tracy R. Tormé is an American screenwriter and television producer. He has worked for Saturday Night Live, Odyssey 5, Sliders, Star Trek: The Next Generation, Fire in the Sky and Carnivàle.-Sliders:...

 reported that executives thought Walton's actual story was boring, and insisted on the changes. Another inconclusive review leaning more towards being positive, was screened by Chris Hicks of the Deseret News. He wrote, "Fire In the Sky leans in favor of believers, suggesting that all of this really did happen. And some of it is fairly entertaining." However, he duly remarked, "the film tells its story in deadly earnest, and that is its greatest failing. Had the approach been more humorous or satirical, without necessarily sacrificing the sense that these characters believe it all — in the manner of "Melvin and Howard," for example — it might be more palatable." Alternatively though, film critic James Berardinelli
James Berardinelli
James Berardinelli is an American online film critic.-Personal life:Berardinelli was born in New Brunswick, New Jersey and spent his early childhood in Morristown, New Jersey. At the age of nine years, he relocated to the township of Cherry Hill, New Jersey...

 noted; "Fire in the Sky is a muddled-up mess. It can't make up its mind whether it wants to be horror, drama, or science-fiction, and, consequently, succeeds as none." Accordingly, Lawrence Cohn
Lawrence Cohn
Lawrence Cohn is best known as head of Legacy Recordings, a branch of Sony Music Entertainment and as creator and producer of the Roots 'n' Blues series....

 of Variety Magazine voiced his negative opinion on the film crew saying; "Unfortunately, scripter Tracy Torme (son of singer Mel) has no ear for the way people speak, delivering corny dialogue that sounds like a pastiche of ancient B-movie cliches."

Awards


The film receiving three 1994 Saturn Award
Saturn Award
The Saturn Award is an award presented annually by the Academy of Science Fiction, Fantasy & Horror Films to honor the top works in science fiction, fantasy, and horror in film, television, and home video. The Saturn Awards were devised by Dr. Donald A. Reed in 1972, who felt that films within...

 nominations including; Best Actor
Saturn Award for Best Actor
The Saturn Award is an award presented annually by the Academy of Science Fiction, Fantasy & Horror Films to honor the top works in science fiction, fantasy, and horror in film, television, and home video. The Saturn Awards were devised by Dr. Donald A. Reed, who felt that films within those genres...

 for Robert Patrick
Robert Patrick
Robert Hammond Patrick, Jr. is an American actor, known for his leading and supporting roles in a number of films and television shows....

, Best Music
Saturn Award for Best Music
The following is a list of Saturn Award winners for Best Music.-Multiple Winners:*John Williams - 7 awards*Danny Elfman - 5 awards*James Horner - 3 awards*Alan Silvestri - 3 awards*Alan Menken - 2 awards*John Ottman - 2 awards*Miklós Rózsa - 2 awards...

 for Mark Isham
Mark Isham
Mark Isham is an American trumpeter, synthesist, and film composer. He works in a variety of genres, including jazz, electronic, and film.-Life and career:...

 and Best Writing
Saturn Award for Best Writing
The following is a list of people who have won the Saturn Award for Best Writing.-Multiple Winners:*James Cameron - 3 awards*Christopher Nolan - 3 awards*William Peter Blatty - 3 awards-External links:* http://www.saturnawards.org/past.html#writing...

 for Tracy Tormé.

Box office


At its widest release in the U.S., the film was screened at 1,435 theaters grossing $6,116,484 in its opening weekend. The film went on to gross $19,885,552 in ticket sales through a 4-week theatrical run.

Home media


The film was initially released in VHS
VHS
The Video Home System is a consumer-level analog recording videocassette standard developed by Victor Company of Japan ....

 video format on November 16, 1994. The Region 1 Code
DVD region code
DVD region codes are a digital-rights management technique designed to allow film distributors to control aspects of a release, including content, release date, and price, according to the region...

 widescreen
Widescreen
Widescreen images are a variety of aspect ratios used in film, television and computer screens. In film, a widescreen film is any film image with a width-to-height aspect ratio greater than the standard 1.37:1 Academy aspect ratio provided by 35mm film....

 edition of the film was released on DVD
DVD-Video
DVD-Video is a consumer video format used to store digital video on DVD discs, and is currently the dominant consumer video format in Asia, North America, Europe, and Australia. Discs using the DVD-Video specification require a DVD drive and a MPEG-2 decoder...

 in the United States on October 19, 2004. Currently, there is no set date on a future Blu-ray Disc
Blu-ray Disc
Blu-ray Disc is an optical disc storage medium designed to supersede the DVD format. The plastic disc is 120 mm in diameter and 1.2 mm thick, the same size as DVDs and CDs. Blu-ray Discs contain 25 GB per layer, with dual layer discs being the norm for feature-length video discs...

 release for the film.

External links

  • Fire in the Sky at Allmovie
  • Fire in the Sky at the Movie Review Query Engine
    Movie Review Query Engine
    The Movie Review Query Engine also known as MRQE, is an index of movie reviews published online. Registered users are able to access movie-specific forums and provide their own reviews. The site aggregates reviews, news, interviews, and other material associated to specific movies...

  • Fire in the Sky at Rotten Tomatoes
    Rotten Tomatoes
    Rotten Tomatoes is a website devoted to reviews, information, and news of films—widely known as a film review aggregator. Its name derives from the cliché of audiences throwing tomatoes and other vegetables at a poor stage performance...

  • Fire in the Sky at Box Office Mojo
    Box Office Mojo
    Box Office Mojo is a website that tracks box office revenue in a systematic, algorithmic way. Brandon Gray started the site in 1999. In 2002, Gray partnered with Sean Saulsbury and they grew the site to nearly two million readers when, in July 2008, the company was purchased by Amazon.com through...