Stargate is a 1994 science fiction adventure film released through Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (MGM) and Carolco Pictures. Written by Dean Devlin and Roland Emmerich, the film is the first release in the Stargate franchise. Directed by Emmerich, the film stars Kurt Russell, James Spader, Jaye Davidson, Alexis Cruz, Mili Avital, and Viveca Lindfors. The plot centers on the premise of a "Stargate", an ancient ring-shaped device that creates a wormhole enabling travel to a similar device elsewhere in the universe. The film's central plot explores the theory of extraterrestrial beings having an influence upon human civilization.
The film had a mixed initial critical reception, earning both praise and criticism for its atmosphere, story, characters, and graphic content. Nevertheless, Stargate became a commercial success worldwide.
Egyptologist and linguist Daniel Jackson, Ph.D., is invited by Catherine Langford to translate Egyptian hieroglyphs on cover stones that her father had unearthed in Giza, Egypt, in 1928. Jackson is taken to a U.S. Air Force installation and told by its commander, Special Operations Colonel Jack O'Neil, that the project is classified information. Jackson determines that the hieroglyphs refer to a "stargate" which uses constellations as spatial coordinates. On this revelation, Jackson is shown that the base has this Stargate, also discovered by Langford's father. They use Jackson's coordinates to align the Stargate's metal ring with markings along its outside, and once all seven are locked in, a wormhole opens, connecting the Stargate with a distant planet. Jackson joins O'Neil and his team, consisting of Reilly, Porro, Freeman, Brown, Ferretti, and Kawalsky, as they pass through the wormhole.
On the arid desert planet, Abydos, they find themselves in a pyramid-like structure. Jackson locates the Stargate's controls, but lacks the coordinates to return home. Colonel O'Neil orders Reilly, Porro, Freeman, and Ferretti to stay behind to guard the Stargate. Nearby, O’Neill’s group discover a tribe of humans working to mine a strange mineral from the planet. Jackson is able to communicate with them as they speak a variation of Ancient Egyptian, and finds the tribe sees them as emissaries of their god Ra. The tribe's chieftain Kasuf presents Jackson with his daughter Sha'uri as a gift, and though Jackson initially refuses her, he later becomes romantically attached to her. O'Neil befriends Kasuf's teenaged son Skaara and his friends, in part because Skaara reminds him of his long-deceased son who had shot himself with O'Neil's service weapon. Through hidden markings and discussions with the tribe, Jackson learns that Ra is an alien being who had come to Earth during the Ancient Egyptian period, looking to possess human bodies to extend his own life. Ra enslaved these humans and brought some to this planet through the Stargate to mine the mineral that is used in the alien technology. The humans on Earth revolted, overthrew Ra's overseers, and buried the Stargate to prevent its use. Ra forbade the humans in the tribe from becoming literate, fearing another revolt. During this investigation, Jackson comes across a cartouche containing six of the seven symbols for the Stargate, but the seventh has been broken off.
That night, Ra's ship lands atop the pyramid structure, and Ferretti and Freeman are captured by Ra's soldiers, while Porro and Reilly are killed. When Jackson, O'Neil, Brown, and Kawalsky return, they end up in a firefight against Ra's soldiers; Jackson and Brown are killed and the others are captured. Ra places Jackson's body in a sarcophagus-like device that regenerates him. Ra then explains to Jackson that he has found a nuclear bomb O'Neil secretly brought with him, has used his alien technology to increase its explosive power a hundred-fold, and threatens to send it back through the Stargate. Ra orders the human tribe to watch as he prepares to force Jackson to execute the others to demonstrate his power, but Skaara and his friends create a diversion that allows Jackson, O'Neil, Kawalsky, and Ferretti to escape, with Freeman being killed. They flee to nearby caves to hide from Ra. Skaara and his friends celebrate, and Skaara draws out a sign of victory in a wall, which Jackson recognizes as the final symbol.
O'Neil and his remaining men aid Skaara in overthrowing the remaining overseers, and then launch an attack on Ra, who himself sends out fighter ships against the humans while he orders his ship to depart. The humans outside are forced to surrender to the fighter ships' pilots when they run out of ammunition, but the rest of the tribe, having the true nature of their false gods revealed by Jackson, rebel against the pilots and overthrow them. Sha'uri is killed, but Jackson takes her body and sneaks aboard Ra's ship using a teleportation system, leaving O'Neil to fight Ra's guard captain, Anubis. Jackson places Sha'uri in the regeneration device, and she recovers, but Ra discovers them and attempts to kill Jackson. O'Neil activates the teleportation system, killing Anubis and allowing Jackson and Sha'uri to escape the ship. O'Neil and Jackson use the teleporter to transport the bomb to Ra's ship; the ensuing blast destroys the ship in space along with Ra. With the humans freed, the remaining team (O’Neill, Kawalsky, and Ferretti) returns to Earth, and Jackson chooses to stay behind with Sha'uri and the others.
- Kurt Russell as Colonel Jonathan "Jack" O'Neil, a career U.S. Air Force Special Operations officer, who suffers a period of suicidal depression after his son accidentally shoots and kills himself with O'Neil's own pistol. When his commission is reactivated, he willingly enters the Stargate, fully aware that he will likely not survive to return to Earth.
- James Spader as Dr. Daniel Jackson, an archaeologist and linguist, who finds little acceptance of his theory that the Great Pyramid of Giza was not built by the pharaohs of the Fourth Dynasty. Actor James Spader was intrigued by the script because he found it "awful", but after meeting Roland Emmerich got excited about it for he "realized that making this picture was going to be such an adventure that out of that would come an adventure on screen."
- Jaye Davidson as Ra, a powerful alien in human form. After voyaging across the universe, searching for a new host that could sustain his dying body, Ra took the form of a curious adolescent boy and enslaved the people of his planet (Earth). Using a Stargate, he transported people from Earth to another planet (where much of the film is set) until the humans on Earth rebelled and buried their Stargate.
- Kelly Vint Castro as Young Catherine Langford, the daughter of Professor Langford. She is in the opening scene and finds the necklace that will later lead her back to the Stargate
- Viveca Lindfors as Dr. Catherine Langford, the civilian leader of the Stargate project who was present when the Stargate was uncovered in Giza in 1928, where her father gave her the amulet depicting the Eye of Ra. Stargate was Lindfors' penultimate film.
- Alexis Cruz as Skaara, the son of Kasuf and brother of Sha'uri. Skaara and his friends aid O'Neil and his men to fight Ra.
- Mili Avital as Sha'uri, the daughter of Kasuf. Kasuf offers Sha'uri to Daniel Jackson in marriage as a gift.
- Erick Avari as Kasuf, the local leader of the people living in a city near the Stargate, and the father of Sha'uri and Skaara
- Leon Rippy as Lieutenant General W. O. West, the commanding officer of the facility housing the Stargate device
- John Diehl as Lt. Colonel Kawalsky, O'Neil's second-in-command
- French Stewart as Lt. Ferretti, a member of O'Neil's team
- Richard Kind as Dr. Gary Meyers, a doctor researching the Stargate
- Rae Allen as Dr. Barbara Shore, a doctor researching the Stargate
- Derek Webster as Lt. Brown, a member of O'Neil's team
- Carlos Lauchu as Anubis, the captain of Ra's personal guard
- Djimon Hounsou (credited as Djimon) as Horus, a personal guard of Ra
- Christopher John Fields as Lt. Freeman, a member of O'Neil's team
- Jack Moore as Senior Airman Reilly, a member of O'Neil's team
- Steve Giannelli as Lt. Porro, a member of O'Neil's team