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Enemy Mine is a 1985 West German-American science fiction film directed by Wolfgang Petersen and written by Edward Khmara, based on Barry B. Longyear's novella of the same name. The film stars Dennis Quaid and Louis Gossett, Jr. as a human and alien soldier, respectively, who become stranded together on an inhospitable planet and must overcome their mutual distrust in order to cooperate and survive.

Enemy Mine
Enemy mine.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed byWolfgang Petersen
Produced by
Screenplay byEdward Khmara
Based onEnemy Mine
by Barry B. Longyear
Starring
Music byMaurice Jarre
CinematographyTony Imi
Edited byHannes Nikel
Production
company
  • Kings Road Entertainment
  • SLM Production Group
Distributed by20th Century Fox
Release date
  • December 20, 1985 (1985-12-20)
Running time
108 minutes
Country
  • United States
  • West Germany
LanguageEnglish
Budget$29 million
Box office$12.3 million[1]

The film began production in Budapest in April 1984 under the direction of Richard Loncraine, who quickly ran into "creative differences" with producer Stephen Friedman and executives at 20th Century Fox; the project was shut down after a week of shooting. Petersen then took over as director and reshot Loncraine's scenes after moving the production to Munich.

Originally budgeted at $17 million, the film ultimately cost more than $40 million after marketing costs were factored in, and was a box office bomb during the 1985 holiday season, earning only a little over $12 million. However, the film had a big success in the former Soviet Union, where it became the first Western sci-fi film shown in the theaters. It gained a cult following afterwards.

Plot summaryEdit

In the late 21st century, an interstellar war between humans (associated as the Bilateral Terran Alliance, or BTA) and Dracs (bipedal reptilian humanoids) is fought. Battles are periodically fought between fighter spacecraft, and no human hates the Dracs more than Willis E. Davidge (Dennis Quaid). During one such battle, Davidge and Drac pilot Jeriba Shigan (Louis Gossett, Jr.) engage in a dogfight which results in their both crash-landing on Fyrine IV.

After initial hostilities where they viciously hunt one another, the two eventually learn to cooperate to survive. They work together to build a shelter for protection against meteorite storms, a natural phenomenon that periodically strikes the planet. Over the next three years, they become friends, each saving the other's life several times.

Davidge, haunted by dreams of spaceships landing on the planet, leaves in search of help. He finds evidence of humans, but learns that the planet has only periodically been visited by human miners known as "Scavengers", who use Dracs as slave labor. He returns to warn Jeriba, (nicknamed "Jerry"), only to have Jerry explain, "sometimes it just happens." (Dracs reproduce asexually and Jerry is pregnant).

A blizzard and an attack by an indigenous predator force Davidge and Jerry to flee their shelter. To pass the time they memorize each other's ancestry, agreeing that Davidge's lineage is "very thin". Jerry later dies in childbirth, but not before making Davidge swear to take the child, Zammis (Bumper Robinson), back to the Drac homeworld and recite his lineage and join Drac society. Davidge raises Zammis, who calls him "Uncle", forming a very close bond as any child and parent.

One day a ship flies overhead and Davidge goes to investigate. Zammis is curious and follows. He is discovered by a pair of Scavengers. Davidge attacks the men, but Zammis inadvertently stands between Davidge and one miner, and Davidge is gunned down. Later, a BTA patrol ship finds Davidge apparently dead, and returns him to his base space station.

On the station during an impersonal funeral ceremony, Davidge suddenly awakens when a technician tries to take the book Jerry gave him years before. Davidge's old team vouch for his loyalty, even after they find he speaks Drac fluently. Davidge is later reinstated to duty, but not as a pilot, as his superiors want to make sure he has not been brainwashed by the Dracs. Unable to get help in rescuing Zammis, Davidge steals a ship to find the child by himself. He manages to find the Scavenger ship and sneak aboard. Davidge speaks to the Drac slaves in their own language as he searches for Zammis. The slaves know about Zammis and realize Davidge is Uncle. Davidge enters the facility and fights with one miner after another as he searches for Zammis. In the confusion, the slaves revolt against the miners. Towards the end of the battle, Davidge is assisted by the BTA crew who pursued the stolen ship. They realize that whatever it was he experienced while MIA has made him more human; he no longer hates Dracs.

In the epilogue, Davidge and Zammis return to the Drac homeworld for Zammis's heritage ceremony. As he had promised Jerry, Davidge recites the complete Jeriba ancestry before the Holy Council. The narrator says, "... and when, in the fullness of time, Zammis brought its own child before the Holy Council, the name of 'Willis Davidge' was added to the line of Jeriba."

CastEdit

  • Dennis Quaid as Willis "Will" Davidge (called "Dah-witch" by Jeriba)
  • Louis Gossett, Jr. as Jeriba Shigan (called "Jerry" by Davidge)
  • Brion James as Stubbs, the Scavenger leader
  • Richard Marcus as Arnold, Davidge's squad-mate
  • Carolyn McCormick as Morse, Davidge's squad-mate
  • Bumper Robinson as Zammis
  • Jim Mapp as Old Drac Slave
  • Lance Kerwin as Joey Wooster, Davidge's co-pilot
  • Scott Kraft as Jonathan, a Scavenger
  • Lou Michaels as Wilson, a Scavenger
  • Andy Geer as Bates, a Scavenger
  • Henry Stolow as Cates, Davidge's squad-mate
  • Herb Andress as Hopper, Davidge's superior officer
  • Danmar as Wise Guy
  • Mandy Hausenberger as 1st Medic

ProductionEdit

 
(from left) producer Stanley O'Toole, Dennis Quaid, director Wolfgang Petersen while filming Enemy Mine in 1984.

The novella was published in 1980 and won a Hugo Award for Best Novella.[2]

Richard LoncraineEdit

The film began shooting in April 1984 with Richard Loncraine (Brimstone & Treacle) as director and a budget of $18 million.[3] However, after three weeks of shooting in Iceland and Budapest, producers became concerned about a mixture of budget overruns, creative differences and poor quality dailies.

"It looked like the planet Earth," said one executive close to the production. "It was costing millions of dollars to create a different look and both the location and Lou Gossett's costume made it look like a cheap '50s horror movie." [4]

"He kind of directed himself into a corner," Gossett said later. "Because of the weather, he couldn't shoot anything that matched. We would still be there." [5]

Filming was stopped. The studio had already spent $9 million in production costs and had "pay or play" contracts committing an additional $18 million, so executives needed to decide whether to cut losses or go with a new director.[6][7]

Wolfgang PetersenEdit

At the same time, Fox changed its upper management and new Chairman, Barry Diller, and head of production, Lawrence Gordon, decided to move ahead with a new director. The studio had faith in the story and actors involved, and asked Wolfgang Petersen to take over as director.[6]

"They made it sound as if they were having a bad dream," said Petersen. "I explained that I'm not the kind of director who can jump on a plane and finish someone else's work."[4]

However Peterson changed his mind when he read the script. "I'm not a fan of 'Star Wars' science fiction," said Petersen. "I thought I would hate 'Enemy Mine,' but after reading the script, I realized that there was more going on than just a shoot-'em-up in outer space. I really was very much impressed with the script but I had too much to do. That's when they offered to stop production until I was done with 'The Neverending Story.' "[4]

Petersen did not like any of Loncraine's work. "All the magic was gone," he said. "Lou Gossett Jr. looked like a man in a rubber lizard suit and Iceland looked like Iceland. You always had a feeling of a human inside something and the feeling of the (foreign) planet was missing."[4] He opted to start anew, scouting locations along the African coast. Stars Quaid and Gossett remained on during the duration of the film's delays and were paid "holding" money.[3] Petersen moved the production from Budapest to Munich and the studio he used for Das Boot.[6]

Large sets were constructed, including a man-made lake, and Gossett's Drac makeup was redesigned, taking several months on its own. Filming resumed in December 1984 in the Spanish Canary Islands before going on to Germany.[8]

"I can't tell you how much it cost to scrap the original," says Petersen. "And I don't even want to know. All I do know is between $24 million and $25 million was the new budget they gave me and I ended up with that figure."[9]

The film finished shooting seven months after its delay.[6] The film's budget, originally planned at about $17 million[6] rose to $29 million,[10] and ended up costing more than $40 million with marketing costs.[6]

ReleaseEdit

The president of Fox's marketing department felt the film was an "extremely difficult movie to market", that its story of two species evolving from enemies to friends made the science fiction picture less about the technology used to film it and more "along the lines of brotherhood." This was epitomized by the film's tagline: "Enemies because they were taught to be, allies because they had to be, brothers because they dared to be."[6]

The studio pushed the film with a full marketing blitz: on the Sunday before Thanksgiving, full-page advertisements ran in 43 of the largest newspapers in the United States. Meanwhile, Fox arranged for a "network roadblock": three 30-second television commercials ran at virtually the same prime time moment on what were then the three television networks. Still that same day, 3500 theatrical trailers were shipped to theaters across America and 164 of the nation's biggest shopping malls were covered with posters for the film.[6]

The campaign received some critical scorn from those in the industry. The poster, with the two leads staring at each other, was singled out for failing to convey the warmth of the story. A marketing head at another studio called it "one of the worst of the year, really terrible. There was a way to make the movie much more palatable."[6]

In the United Kingdom, the original 108m 38s movie was cut down to 93m 5s when first released theatrically, and later on VHS,[11] although the full-length version was reinstated for the 2002 DVD.[12]

ReceptionEdit

Critical responseEdit

Enemy Mine was met with mixed reviews upon its release, and in 2015 scored 59% positive on review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes.[13] Roger Ebert gave the film ​2 12 out of 4 stars, saying it "made no compromises in its art direction, its special effects and its performances – and then compromised everything else in sight."[14] Janet Maslin of The New York Times referred to it as "This season's Dune", referring to the critically panned science fiction epic from the previous year.[15] Variety magazine called it "an anthropomorphic view of life but touching nonetheless."[16] Seventeen years later, another New York Times reviewer gave the film a more positive assessment, noting that if it were "taken in the intended spirit it's often moving, suggesting what might happen if two of earth's perpetually warring peoples were stranded together."[17] The Los Angeles Times praised the film, calling it "surprisingly coherent, surprisingly enjoyable." The movie received similar praise from critics Gary Franklin, Gene Siskel, and Leonard Maltin.[6]

Box officeEdit

With Enemy Mine costing over $40 million, the studio hoped for a large first weekend opening. That did not occur, with the film pulling in only $1.6 million at 703 theaters nationwide. As of Christmas day, the film had taken in $2.3 million at the box office. When asked exactly how much the movie would have to take in during its theatrical run to make its money back, an executive with Fox replied "It doesn't really matter, because it's not going to do it."[6]

MusicEdit

The score was composed and conducted by Maurice Jarre, and performed by the Studioorchester in Munich and a synthesiser ensemble. The soundtrack album was released by Varèse Sarabande.

Enemy Mine
Soundtrack album by
Released1985
Recorded1985
GenreFilm score
Length40:52
LabelVarèse Sarabande
  1. Fyrine IV (5:03)
  2. The Relationship (3:55)
  3. The Small Drac (2:45)
  4. The Crater (2:15)
  5. The Birth of Zammis (6:14)
  6. Spring (1:27)
  7. The Scavengers (4:48)
  8. Davidge's Lineage (3:33)
  9. Football Game (:44)
  10. Before the Drac Holy Council (9:54)

See alsoEdit

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ http://boxofficemojo.com/movies/?id=enemymine.htm
  2. ^ Hugo Awards Announced The Washington Post 1 Sep 1980: C6.
  3. ^ a b Roderick Mann, A Gentleman And A Drac, Los Angeles Times, December 7, 1985, Accessed December 23, 2010.
  4. ^ a b c d WOLFGANG PETERSEN; THE CREATOR OF 'DAS BOOT' VENTURES INTO OUTER SPACE: Blowen, Michael. Boston Globe 17 Dec 1985: 67.
  5. ^ Gossett makes his own breaks Scott, Jay. The Globe and Mail 19 Dec 1985: D.7.
  6. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k David T. Friendly, One Studio Has Seen The 'Enemy,' And It Is Costly, Los Angeles Times, December 30, 1985, Accessed December 23, 2010.
  7. ^ FILM CLIPS: IT'S NO BULL: MGM/UA DROPS 'BO-BOLERO' London, Michael. Los Angeles Times 11 May 1984: i1.
  8. ^ 'COP' DIRECTOR BREST IS BACK ON THE CASE: FILM CLIPS London, Michael. Los Angeles Times 15 Dec 1984: k1.
  9. ^ Lizard-suited Gossett admits transformation to Drac tough: [FINAL Edition] Noel Taylor The Citizen 16 Dec 1985: D8.
  10. ^ Harmetz, Aljean (November 29, 1985). "At the Movies". The New York Times. Retrieved June 13, 2011.
  11. ^ BBFC: Enemy Mine - film
  12. ^ BBFC: Enemy Mine - video
  13. ^ Enemy Mine at Rotten Tomatoes
  14. ^ Ebert, Roger (December 20, 1985). "Enemy Mine". Chicago Sun Times. Retrieved October 28, 2010.
  15. ^ Janet Maslin, Screen: Enemy Mine, The New York Times, December 20, 1985, Accessed December 23, 2010.
  16. ^ "Enemy Mine". Variety. December 31, 1984. Retrieved October 28, 2010.
  17. ^ Neil Genzlinger, Movies: Critic's Choice, The New York Times, March 24, 2002, Accessed December 23, 2010.

External linksEdit