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Fire in the Sky is a 1993 science fiction film, directed by Robert Lieberman, and written by Travis Walton (from his book The Walton Experience) and Tracy Tormé (screenplay). The film stars Robert Patrick in the leading role as Walton's best friend and future brother-in-law, Mike Rogers, and D. B. Sweeney as Walton himself. Craig Sheffer, Peter Berg and James Garner also star.

The original music score was composed by Mark Isham and the cinematography was by Bill Pope. This film was shot in Oakland, Oregonmarker, but is not connected to a 1978 telefilm of the same name, though coincidentally it is also set in Arizona.

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.

Plot

On November 5, 1975, near Snowflake, Arizonamarker, logger Travis Walton (D. B. Sweeney) disappears mysteriously during an encounter with a flying saucer. Authorities treat with skepticism the outrageous story related by the only witnesses to the alleged event, including Walton's co-workers and his best friend and future brother-in-law, Mike Rogers (Robert Patrick). They are suspected of foul play despite no apparent motive or knowledge as to Walton's whereabouts.

A state lawman finds a tabloid newspaper in the crew's pickup truck and quickly concludes that tensions had arisen between Walton and surly co-worker Allan Dallis (Craig Sheffer), leading the lawman to conclude that a murder cover-up is under way. However, all of the suspects pass lie-detector tests and the case becomes stalled. Five days later, and just as mysteriously as he disappeared, Walton reappears, claiming to have been abducted by extraterrestrials and taken aboard a UFO. A flashback shows Walton being experimented upon against his will.

The film culminates with a denouement between Walton and Rogers, with the UFO mystery essentially unresolved.

Main cast



Sources

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.

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.

Legacy and reception

Despite being greeted with a mixed critical reception upon release, Fire in the Sky has gone on to be described as a cult favourite among science fiction fans, with many praising the alien abduction scenes as being among the most well-executed in the history of film. Prominent critic Roger Ebert offered a mostly positive review, writing: "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 one aspect of the film: "the movie's flaw is that there's not enough detail about the aliens." 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 reported that executives thought Walton's actual story was boring, and insisted on the changes. The film was greeted with a warm reception at the 1994 Saturn Awards, receiving three nominations: Best Actor (Robert Patrick), Best Music (Mark Isham) and Best Writing (Tracy Tormé). The X-Files creator Chris Carter was also impressed by Patrick's performance in the film, which lead to his casting Patrick as FBI Special agent John Doggett for the show's eighth season in 2000. MSNBC 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, writing: "Credit should go to screenwriter Tracy Torme and director Robert Lieberman, as they were called upon to punch up Walton’s original account."

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