Outland : The Press Kit

Outland was released in 1981, very much a product of the popularity science-fiction films were enjoying during the time period. While the film was expected to do well, it was a modest success at best, making back little more than its budget on initial release. Since then, it has remained in print in the home video market. The DVD and Blu-ray releases are very good – if a little light on special features – with the Blu-ray being exceptionally clear and vibrant.


Outland Movie Poster

The US movie poster

Critics were quick to point out the plot was largely derived from the classic Western High Noon. While this is true, the description was used to write off the film as nothing but a poor copy transferred to a space setting.

I think they all jumped on the same dismissive bandwagon, with their intellectual vanity unable to resist pointing out the obvious origins as somehow a weakness.

There have been many remakes in film history, some good and some bad.

Both versions of Cape Fear, the 1962 original with Gregory Peck and Robert Mitchum directed by J Lee Thompson, and the 1991 Martin Scorsese version with Nick Nolte and Robert De Niro, are great films.

However, John Badham’s 1993 Point of No Return with Bridget Fonda and Gabriel Byrne was an atrocity when compared to Luc Besson’s 1990 original Nikita with Anne Parillaud and Tchéky Karyo.

A more apt comparison might be Akira Kurosawa’s 1954 The Seven Samurai, remade in 1960 as John Sturges’ The Magnificent Seven. Both are considered extremely-well-made films, and neither suffers by comparison. So I wonder why we can go from a Japanese samurai film to an American Western, but we cannot go from an American Western to a space station on Io?

I’ve always enjoyed Outland as a science-fiction film that focusses on a human story instead of the fantastic. It’s backed up by well-thought-out world building, production design and special effects.

Collected here are the press kit, stills and other pieces.

Outland Movie Poster

The UK movie poster, possibly illustrated by David Scutt (initialled DFS)


Outland Press Kit

Press kit cover

INTRODUCTION

Io, Volcanic Moon of Jupiter

On March 9, 1979, Voyager I discovered an erupting volcano on Io, the innermost moon of Jupiter, one of the greatest finds of the current planetary exploration program, establishing that some other world in our solar system is still geologically alive.

It was the most remarkable sight in Jupiter’s realm since Galileo, in 1610, first saw the planet was circled by four moons, subsequently named Io, Europa, Ganymede and Callisto, after objects of the mythological Jupiter’s wideranging fancies. (Following her romance with the king of heaven, Io was transformed into a heifer, pursued by Juno’s gadfly.)

Pulled and tugged by the gravity of Jupiter and two of its sister satellites (Europa and Ganymede), the crust of Io seethes with tidal forces that heat its upper layer, inducing volcanic eruptions which spew more than a hundred kilometres above the surface.

Io has no wind and is utterly arid, lighter materials such as water having been lost to space. Because sulphur dominates the landscape, scientists believe Io looks like a painted desert, with an intermingling of sulphurous colors.

Were Io an Earth satellite, it would shine six times brighter than our Moon.

Outland Screencap

Outland Screencap

Outland Screencap

Outland Screencap

Outland Screencap

Outland Screencap

Mine Operation

Outland Screencap

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Outland Screencap


PRODUCTION NOTES

Assignment: To create for the cameras the brilliantly original concept of Con-Am #27, a mining operation on Io, volcanic moon of Jupiter, as envisioned by Peter Hyams for his film, Outland.

It would prove a challenge for even the combined technical genius of the staff assembled for production by producer Richard A. Roth and executive producer Stanley O’Toole.

The Ladd Company, no stranger to the demands of innovative filmmaking, contributed its creative force as well.

The resulting motion picture crackles with dramatic tension. In directing Outland from his original screenplay, Hyams pushes forward the boundaries of cinematic adventure with some of the most extraordinary sequences recorded on film.

Choosing to define the dark and haunting recesses of space in terms other than space suits, ray guns, lucite domes, conveyor belts and permapressed jump suits, Hyams explores the difficult, dangerous, even sinister, underside of a commercial venture such as the mining operation on Io. The emerging universality of his theme makes for powerfully relevant drama. Building to a climax in terms of conflict and character, Outland erupts with stunning force and breathtakingly visual suspense.

Sean Connery and Clarke Peters

Starring in Outland, Sean Connery gives the performance of a career, both distinctive and distinguished. In addition to portraying secret agent 007 with unsurpassed urbanity in six James Bond films, Connery has created a diverse gallery of characters, none more fascinatingly complex than the role of William T. O’Neil, federal district marshal on Con-Am #27.

Peter Boyle and Frances Sternhagen star with Connery in a superbly orchestrated acting ensemble which includes James B. Sikking, Kika Markham and Clarke Peters.

Sean Connery and Kika Markham

The result, enhanced with a score by the Academy-Award-winning composer Jerry Goldsmith, is a spellbinding evocation of a world of advanced industrial technology, in which functionality is the determining factor.

As conceived by Hyams, working with production designer Philip Harrison, the mining complex is a silver-grey city which rises from a sulphurous plain, consisting of seven modules, each with a separate function, including the refinery, a solar station from which power is generated, two greenhouses which produce not only vegetables for the community but also oxygen for the plants, the living quarters and the space shuttle landing pad.

The shuttle itself, resembling a huge, predatory insect, Hyams named Fillii Mei, Latin for My Sons.

Outland Screencap

The principal set – the workers’ quarters complex – is a massive structure. Layer upon layer of starkly functional metallic cubicles tower from floor to ceiling like so many cages. Row upon row of protective helmets and back packs are visible, suspended from enormous metal hangers. Dominating the scene is an awesome airlock door which protects workers from the hostile environment and through which they enter to the mine shaft.

Outland Screencap

“The mining colony is the location, not the subject,” asserts Hyams. “The film is about a man who has reached a point in his life where he draws the line, where he sees a wrong and feels a responsibility to stand up to it.”

Hyams describes that central character, portrayed by Sean Connery, as, “A stubborn man. A decent man. A man with a sense of strength as well as intelligence and vulnerability.”

Sean Connery and Mark Boyle

Hyams, who views Connery as an extraordinary actor, says of his star, “His emotions seem so very close to the surface of the skin that when you see him on screen, you can truly sense what he’s feeling. Certainly an enormous asset for a film actor.”

As Federal District Marshal William T. O’Neil, head of security on Con-Am #27, Connery sees himself as a man on his own particular odyssey. Alone against the system.

He was drawn to the role, he says, because Hyams’ concept of the future was a dramatically taut story dealing with credible conflicts and problems, rather than merely a showcase for futuristic hardware.

Hyams perceives such a future frontier to be hard, gritty and so difficult, demanding and unpleasant that only the promise of quick big money can tempt workers to putting up with the hellish conditions and dangers involved. Living space is at a costly premium in a mining colony like Con-Am #27. Economy dictates that workers be herded together in small functional units which have a sombre, claustrophobic, almost penitentiary-like atmosphere. The attempt at providing a recreational outlet with a leisure club is not enough to allay the building tensions, resentments and personal clashes that charge the atmosphere.

From a production viewpoint, the concept of the leisure club was a challenging one, and depends for its impact, not only on the design of the crowded room in which workers find whatever relaxation is available to them, but in the erotic entertainment provided by the dancers who interweave to electronic music in green laser beams of light. The threat of violence hangs in the air like the haze of smoke in the flourescent lights which shine up harshly from the tables and the bar. On Con-Am #27, the spectre of violent crime seems always imminent. When it erupts, prison cells await the offenders. These too are uniquely designed, with neither bars, nor steel doors. They are, rather, glass-fronted cubicles in which, with no artificial gravity provided, prisoners free float in space suits attached to oxygen pipes.

Sean Connery, James B. Sikking and Mark Boyle

The sense of totally believable reality with which Hyams invested both script and production inspired Academy-Award-winning costume designer John Mollo to create workmen’s space suits with what he calls a technological look quite different from the classical, heavy space suit designs.

But, of course, the ultimate reality is conveyed in the performance, and the company of actors Hyams has chosen reflect this brilliantly.

In addition to Connery’s commanding portrayal, Peter Boyle creates a powerful portrait of malevolence as the head of Con-Am #27. Frances Sternhagen, as the doctor, brings insight and great inner strength to her role as the one person in the mining operation with the courage and integrity to be supportive of Connery. James B. Sikking as the marshal’s aide, Kika Markham as his wife, and Clarke Peters as a deputy officer all bring a keen sense of presence and awareness to their roles with total commitment to the overview of reality which writer/director Hyams sought and, through both performance and production, achieved.


ABOUT THE CAST

Sean Connery

Sean Connery (William T. O’Neil). The character of O’Neil is far closer to the real Connery than the smoothly urbane incarnation of James Bond with which he is often associated. For, in truth, Connery is a rugged and outspoken individualist, a quality which gets O’Neil into trouble and has, on occasion, been known to do likewise for Connery himself.

Outland is highlighted by Connery’s commanding and fascinatingly complex performance. He is one film star who projects a sense of heroism offscreen as well as on. In fact, the classical proportions of Greek drama can be traced in his portrayal of one man against the system.

Physically, he is strikingly tall, broad-shouldered and handsome. But there is an indefinable inner quality that also suggests an extraordinary presence. It is this combination of the inner and outer man that galvanises the screen with his charisma.

“I have never really been concerned with my image, but have always taken parts because they are interesting,” asserts Connery, who sports a grizzled beard for the film.

Dressed in blue shirt and pants adorned by badges and patches denoting the official rank of the character he portrays, Connery paused set side during the filming of Outland, to consider a career that has seen him in a great diversity of characterizations in addition to his unforgettable incarnation as James Bond.

John Huston, who directed Connery in The Man Who Would Be King, says he brings clout to a part, referring undoubtedly to that same indefinable quality of heroism which Connery projects from the screen.

It may well come from an unusual aspect of the actors own personality. Journalist Roderick Mann pinpointed it when he said, “Connery is that rarest of creatures, a totally secure man in a business riddled with insecurity.” Small wonder that director Peter Hyams sensed in Connery the perfect embodiment of the heroic character he had envisioned at the heart of his screenplay for Outland. District Marshal O’Neil, too, is a totally secure man in a business riddled with insecurity.

Very much a part of Connery’s highly personal charm, on screen and off, is his humour. He does not stand on ceremony, nor does he expect others to do so. In his blunt, Scottish fashion, he teases unmercifully, but is capable of taking as good as he gets with the mischievous grin that totally transforms his face.

The idea of directing a comedy intrigues him, for either stage or screen. But he is definite about not wanting to appear in a theatrical venture. “I don’t have the sort of compulsion that makes me want to go on night after night,” says Connery.

When the call came for Connery to return to the set, he stood up, raising himself to his full 6’2″, pausing a moment to adjust the leather belt around his waist.

“Are you loosening it a notch?” queried the script girl loudly.

Connery, glowering, bent down and whispered to her, “Don’t tell on me, please.” And, every inch a hero, he strode back to work.

Sean Connery

Background

Born in Fountainbridge, Edinburgh, Scotland, Sean is the elder son of Joseph Connery and his wife, Euphania.

Times were hard for the Connerys. As a youngster, Sean’s cot had been the long bottom drawer of a wardrobe, and the lavatory outside on the stairway was shared with 12 other families. Only movies seemed to offer an escape. Young Sean liked westerns, adventure films and Flash Gordon.

He began his working career at age nine, helping a milk delivery man. Nor is it likely they would have guessed that he left school at the age of 13. Looking back on his impoverished youth, Connery says, “In those days it was never a question of one’s ambitions. It was the struggle of going from day to day that counted.”

An active sea cadet, he signed for seven years with the Royal Navy when he turned 17. In scarcely half that time, he was discharged for a duodenal ulcer.

Connery then drifted through a series of unrelated occupations: milkman, truck driver, cement mixer, bricklayer, steel bender, printer’s devil, lifeguard and even coffin polisher.

Ultimately, and by sheer chance, he stumbled into the theatre. In the days that he was a struggling out-of-work actor in London, his mother in Edinburgh was informed by a door-to-door turbanned soothsayer that she had a son who would one day be very, very famous.

“That’ll be the day,” the lady is said to have retorted with a laugh.

Although the prognostication was to prove incredibly correct, one cannot blame Sean’s mother for her skepticism.

“The very fact that I didn’t have anything made it easier, because I didn’t have anything to lose,” recalls Connery.

Spending his hard-earned cash on tickets to the current theatrical offerings, he met a buddy who was in the then #1 musical smash, South Pacific. Told they were looking for someone who could dance and sing as a replacement in the chorus, Connery met the director, assured him he could do both, spent the next 48 hours straight taking lessons so he could support the claim, and got the job.

After 18 months with South Pacific, Connery ventured into straight acting, mostly provincial productions and fringe theatres in London’s suburbs. Then came an opportunity to appear in a live television production of Requiem for a Heavyweight, because Jack Palance, originally chosen for the role, had a conflict in commitments.

The acclaim for Connery’s performance brought with it the opportunity to appear in such prestigious TV productions as Anna Karenina with Claire Bloom and the BBC’s Age of Kings. It also brought him his first job as a film actor in No Road Back.

In 1957, Connery signed a contract with 20th Century-Fox and was loaned out to make Another Time, Another Place, with Lana Turner, the Disney film Darby O’Gill and the Little People, as well as Tarzan’s Greatest Adventure, The Frightened City and On the Fiddle. In 1962, after playing a soldier in The Longest Day, Darryl Zanuck’s epic of the Normandy landings, he got a release from his contract.

Later that year, with the decision to bring the James Bond novel Dr. No to the screen, it was author Ian Fleming who wanted Sean Connery to star as secret agent 007. His performance, as well as the film itself, created a sensation, immediately establishing the James Bond phenomena, which continued unabated as Connery followed in From Russia with Love, Goldfinger, Thunderball, You Only Live Twice and his final incarnation as Bond, Diamonds are Forever.

Connery’s impressive salary for that last film was used to found the Scottish International Education Trust, of which he is vice chairman. Its aim is to advance educational and recreational facilities for underprivileged Scottish children, helping many of them obtain the educational opportunities Connery himself never had.

Interspersed with the Bond films were a diverse variety of roles which showed Connery’s versatility as an actor. Among them were Woman of Straw, Marnie, The Hill, A Fine Madness, Shalako, The Molly Maguires, The Red Tent and The Anderson Tapes. In 1972, Connery made The Offence for his own production company, directed by Sidney Lumet, then followed it with John Boorman’s Zardoz, Caspar Wrede’s Ransom, and yet another venture with Lumet, Murder on the Orient Express.

His most recent films have been John Milius’ The Wind and the Lion, John Huston’s The Man Who Would Be King, Richard Lester’s Robin & Marian, Richard Sarafian’s The Next Man, Richard Attenborough’s A Bridge Too Far, Ronald Neame’s Meteor, Michael Crichton’s The Great Train Robbery, Richard Lester’s Cuba and, upcoming, Terry Gilliam’s Time Bandits. Connery and his wife, the former Micheline Roquebrune, make their home in Monaco, where his principal recreation is golf.


Peter Boyle

Peter Boyle (Mark B. Sheppard). Versatility is certainly the keynote to the acting career of Peter Boyle who portrays Sheppard, general manager of Con-Am #27. The role offers Boyle the chance to add an intriguingly-different characterization to his growing gallery of roles.

On the set, Sean Connery kept a watchful eye on his co-star, as the latter rehearsed for a sequence in which he is seen playing a form of executive golf involving the use of an elaborate computerised toy.

In the role of general manager Sheppard, Boyle takes the pressure off by practicing his golf.

Even though Sheppard is the antagonist to the character Connery portrays, that of Federal District Marshal William T. O’Neil, Connery is very sympathetic to this desire to relieve tension by improving one’s golfing technique.

It’s something Connery is very much into himself, away from the cameras. The fact that he is very good at it accounts for his coaching of Boyle whose appreciation for the sport has grown during filming.

For Outland, Boyle practiced his golf diligently to the delight of Connery, an avid follower of the sport who was eager to have someone with whom he and writer/director Hyams, another fan of the fairways, could swap golf stories.

Outland explores the difficult, dangerous, even sinister underside of a commercial venture such as the mining operation headed by the character Boyle portrays.

“I see Sheppard as an opportunist,” says Boyle. “He wants to make as much money as possible and move up in the company as fast as he can, no matter what the consequences.”

Peter Boyle

Background

Born in Philadelphia, PA, Boyle attended La Salle College where he kept changing his major. After graduation, he was still not sure what he wanted to do. He taught high school and was a member of the Christian Brothers for a while, until finally the New York stage tempted him.

Uta Hagen, one of the US’s foremost teachers of acting, recognised the ability and potential in the young aspirant and encouraged him, not only with her teaching, but by introducing him to people of influence in the theatre. As a result, he began to get roles in off-Broadway productions and, within a year, was featured in The Balcony at the famed Circle-in-the-Square Theatre. This led to roles in the New York Shakespeare Festival under Joseph Papp’s direction. Boyle also appeared at The Premise, as well as the Judson Poets’ Theatre, and toured with the national company of The Odd Couple, later joining the Second City improvisational troupe in Chicago.

In 1970, he burst onto the screen in an unforgettable performance as a hard hat in the title role of Joe, causing critics to cheer that a new force in acting had arrived.

It is indeed Boyle’s special gift that he can infuse every character he plays with life and intensity. After Joe, however, everything offered Boyle involved bigotry or violence or both. Not wanting to become typed early on in his career, Boyle declined role after role until, at the end of six months, he was offered the chance to appear opposite Candice Bergen in TR Baskin, Peter Hyams’ first feature film.

Among his films, which include Steelyard Blues, Kid Blue, The Man Who Could Talk to Kids, The Friends of Eddie Coyle, Crazy Joe, Swashbuckler, F.I.S.T., The Brinks Job, Where the Buffalo Roam, and In God We Trust, are particularly memorable appearances as the monster in Young Frankenstein, the political mastermind in The Candidate and his role as the late Senator Joseph Mccarthy in Tail Gunner Joe for which Boyle received an Emmy nomination.

An accomplished writer and trained singer, Boyle makes his home in New York City with his wife Loraine.


Frances Sternhagen

Frances Sternhagen (Dr. Marian L. Lazarus). In the pivotal role of the doctor, Sternhagen contributes a portrait of a woman of courage, who befriends the district marshal played by Sean Connery.

She paused on the clinically-white hospital set, surrounded by banks of monitors, to discuss her character.

“Dr. Lazarus is a woman who doesn’t want to show any real emotional involvement in any direction to anybody. Her attitude, at first, is a shoulder-shrugging, ‘Who cares?’ But in the end, she does care, and that’s what intrigued me about the part. It’s what I always look for first: that moment when a character sees something in herself she’s never been aware of before.”

“In film acting,” she notes, “you have to remember it all comes through the eyes. That’s where an audience sees what’s going on in a character’s head. You don’t do much moving around of the face muscles. You have to project what you are thinking in a small way, whereas on stage, you try for a bigger effect.”

A slender, fair-haired lady with a wide, warm smile, she has seemingly boundless energy, an important quality for a busy actress who is also the mother of six children ranging in age from 14 to 23.

Says Sternhagen, “I manage because I have a very understanding husband who cares about all of us a great deal. I just keep praying that my children aren’t going to show appalling signs of neglect as they grow older.”

Frances’ husband and her younger children joined her in England where Outland was filmed. As much as she enjoys acting, she insists, “I would go crazy if it were all I had, if I didn’t have my husband and children. A lot of people come to acting because they enjoy the artificial aspects of it, but I feel my family is my anchor to the windward.”

Frances Sternhagen and Sean Connery

Background

Sternhagen is equally at home on stage as well as before the cameras. She received the Tony for her multiple roles in the Neil Simon play, The Good Doctor. Other nominations came for The Sign in Sidney Brustein’s Window, Equus in which she played the tormented mother, Dora Strang, and most recently for the musical Angel. She has also collected two Obie awards for her roles in The Pinter Plays and The Admirable Bashville.

Born in Washington, DC, USA, Frances played a variety of roles at both The Arena Stage in Washington and The Olney Theatre in Maryland, making her New York debut at The Cherry Lane Theatre in Thieves’ Carnival. She subsequently played more than a score of classical and contemporary roles on and off Broadway, at Lincoln Centre, and with the APA Phoenix, notably The Cocktail Party, The Chalk Garden, The Right Honorable Gentleman, The Country Wife, The Playboy of the Western World, and Beckett’s Play.

Her film credits include Up the Down Staircase, The Tiger Makes Out, The Hospital, Two People, Fedora, and most recently, Starting Over.

Married to Thomas A. Carlin, Frances is the mother of six.


James B. Sikking
James B. Sikking (Sgt. Kenneth R. Montone) has guest starred in more than 200 primetime television shows in addition to co-starring in the NBC series Turnabout and a starring role for three years in ABC’s General Hospital. His films include Peter Hyams’ Capricorn One as well as The Magnificent Seven, The Americanization of Emily, Terminal Man, and recently, The Competition. He was born in Los Angeles, CA, USA.

Kika Markham
Kika Markham (Carol O’Neil) has appeared in some of the best of British television including a recent role in Edward & Mrs. Simpson. Cast as Sean Connery’s wife in Outland, her other films include Operation Daybreak, Le Vengeur and Francois Trauffaut’s Anne and Muriel. She is English born.

Clarke Peters
Clarke Peters (Deputy Ballard) was born in New York’s Harlem and his musical talents took him abroad where, after touring as a member of the group The Majestics, with songstress Shirley Bassey, he appeared on the London stage in the hit musical Bubbling Brown Sugar. Dramatic television followed, and two feature films, The Music Machine and Silver Dream Racer.


ABOUT THE PRODUCTION STAFF

Peter Hyams‘ (writer/director) Outland is the fourth film which he has both written and directed, the others being Hanover Street (1978); Capricorn One (1977); Busting (1974); and the television film, Goodnight My Love (1972). He both wrote and produced his very first feature film, TR Baskin, (1970) and served solely as director on Our Time (1975). Before turning to filmmaking, his creative energies had won him recognition as a jazz drummer, painter and television journalist and commentator. But for the past decade he has devoted himself to motion pictures which involve audiences emotionally, the primary goal he seeks to achieve as a filmmaker.

Richard A. Roth (producer) began his producing career in 1970 with the critical and popular success, Summer of ’42. His professional association with Peter Hyams began in 1974 when he produced Our Time which Hyams directed. A year later, Roth developed and produced Gene Wilder’s comedy hit, The Adventure of Sherlock Holmes Smarter Brother. Born in Chicago, he graduated Stanford University’s School of Law and worked for a law firm before beginning his career in show business as a literary agent.

Stanley O’Toole (executive producer) in 1968 was named European head of production for Paramount Pictures after serving the company as production executive and earlier as chief cost accountant. During this period, he had responsibility for such films as Robert Redfords starrer, Downhill Racer. Among those films he has produced since his initial effort in 1974, The Last of Sheila for Warner Bros., have been Operation Daybreak, The Seven-Per-Cent Solution, The Squeeze, Nijinsky and Sphinx.

Jerry Goldsmith (music) won an Academy Award for best original score for The Omen, his tenth Oscar nomination. Among the feature film credits of this prolific composer and conductor, who began his career in the late fifties, are such memorable motion pictures as The Blue Max, Planet of the Apes, Patton, Chinatown, The Boys from Brazil, Magic and Alien. He has also composed and conducted for television such recognizable themes as Gunsmoke and Doctor Kildare and been awarded three Emmys in recognition of his work.

Philip Harrison (production designer) trained at the Royal College of Art, he began a career in television drama with ABC-TV in england. His first feature film was Karel Reisz’s Morgan, followed by Ken Russell’s Lisztomania and Valentino. Among his other films are How I Won the War, The Ritz and most recently Peter Hyams’ film Hanover Street.

John Stears (special effects supervisor). His contributions to Thunderball and Star Wars won him two Academy Awards. After joining the Rank Organisation as a matte artist, he progressed into floor miniatures and effects. Among his film credits as special effects supervisor, he lists six of the Bond films from Dr. No to The Man with the Golden Gun, as well as Fiddler on the Roof, O Lucky Man and The Last Remake of Beau Geste.

John Mollo (costume designer) is an authority on military costumes and author of the definitive text, Military Fashion, which covers the history of European and American uniforms from 1640 to 1914. Mollo made an auspicious film debut as costume designer with Star Wars for which he won an Academy Award. He has also worked as technical advisor on such films as The Charge of the Light Brigade, The Adventures of Gerrard, Nicholas and Alexandra and Barry Lyndon. Most recently, he designed the costumes for The Empire Strikes Back.


Outland Hyams Connery

Hyams and one of his sons taking a break with Connery between setups


AN INTERVIEW WITH PETER HYAMS

The following interview was given during filming at Pinewood Studios by Peter Hyams. At the time of the interview the young director, dressed in his usual casual working attire, had completed filming a complicated chase sequence with Connery. As lights were switched off on the set, a towering, complex construction of steel, Hyams discussed Outland.

Q: The action of Outland takes place at a mining colony called Con-Am #27 which is situated on Io. Can you tell something of how you derived your concept of such a setting?

PH: I envision it as similar to the Suez when the canal was built, or Alaska when the pipeline was laid. I thought of the Dodge Cities of the past and the oil rigs of the present. These are places which attract people with suspect pasts, who have little to lose and are out for as much gain as possible in the shortest amount of time. For that, they are willing to undergo a life of tremendous hardship, physically and mentally. Creature comforts barely exist on a place like Con-Am #27. Things don’t work particularly well. The heat is oppressive to the point of being unbearable. It’s filthy. It’s claustrophobic. And there are only three things to do: work as hard as you can, pass the time by sleeping, drinking or taking drugs, and sex. Liaisons there are probably as perfunctory as possible. I see it as a place of enormous boredom and physical danger. It’s mean. And it’s nasty.

Sean Connery and Mark Boyle

Q: What is your perception of the future?

PH: It’s not lucite domes where people glide back and forth wearing jump suits, and everybody is perma-pressed. A mining operation like Con-Am #27 represents a frontier, and frontiers strike me as sinister, dangerous places of enormous hardship.

Sean Connery and Kika Markham

Q: Does directing a big budget film affect your approach?

PH: Any movie I’ve made, I’ve tried to get everything I possibly could on the screen. If I get $100, I try to get $120 worth on film. There have certainly been some remarkable films about the future in the past five years. Those movies, not so coincidentally, were made by Alan Ladd Jr., and those who are now with the Ladd Company. I have an enormous heritage, and it’s a formidable task to try to live up to it.

Sean Connery

Q: How do you describe your central character, Federal District Marshal William T. O’Neil, as played by Sean Connery?

PH: He’s a cop. After all, law and order will continue to pose problems on each new frontier as it always has in the past. O’Neil is a stubborn man. A decent man, with a not particularly distinguished career. I imagine hes been on the force about twenty years, is outspoken enough to have gotten into trouble about it. He’s a man who ultimately draws a line and says, “Something’s wrong, and I’m not going to go along with it. I’m going to try to stop it.” It precipitates trouble when a man does that.

Sean Connery and Peter Hyams

Connery and Hyams on set

Q: What’s it been like working with Sean Connery?

PH: Sean is an extraordinary actor, and he has that rare quality, his emotions seem very close to the surface of his skin. You have the impression, when you photograph him, that you can truly sense what he’s feeling. He has a very powerful image on screen, and he’s a tremendous craftsman.

Sean Connery and Mark Boyle

Q: What have you found most difficult about making this film?

PH: Not allowing myself to get distracted by the toys, so that the story gets lost in a welter of special effects. Outland deals with the problems of some very human beings, and those problems are more important than metal and plastic things which do what metal and plastic things have never done before.

Frances Sternhagen and Sean Connery

Q: The sets for Outland are spectacular, particularly the workers’ quarters complex. Can you tell us something of the concepts behind them?

PH: Basically, I envisioned a place where function was the only requisite. The idea of a mining operation like Con-Am #27 would have to be to cram as many men and women workers into the smallest amount of space absolutely necessary. Give them air to breathe, food to eat, clothing to wear, and that’s about it. Take the shuttle, for instance. You design a big box, so you can put as much freight in it as possible, and then stick big, nasty engines on it so you can get it up and get it down. In other words, these places and quarters and vehicles are designed to do something and not to look good. As a result, you see the wheels, the gears, the pipes. Consider the Apollo capsule. If you’ve looked at the landing modules, you’ve seen the rivets and gauges. When I asked a man from NASA why they wrapped mylar around the bottom part of the module that landed on the Moon, he told me that since nobody was in the bottom part, it was cheaper to just wrap the mylar around that section with no particular shape since, after all, it was going to be left there. The only consideration was the performing of a task. And that’s true of all the designs for Outland. Function is the only criterion. The prime object is to protect workers from a hostile environment, while they perform their difficult and dangerous jobs. Outland deals with the future as a location, not a subject.


STAR VISIONS OF THE FUTURE

Sean Connery, Peter Boyle and Frances Sternhagen have formed their own ideas of what the future holds in store for mankind, prompted by the fact that the film takes place on Con-Am #27.

For the taut, suspense-filled adventure itself, writer/director Peter Hyams explores the difficult, dangerous, even sinister, underside of a commercial venture that will likely be a future source of revenue.

As for his view of the future, Connery feels that the fundamentals of the human condition are unlikely to change. To support this theory, he points to the plays written by Euripedes 2,000 years ago. Avarice, greed and man’s inhumanity to man was in evidence then, is still in evidence, and, thinks Connery, will probably continue to be.

Peter Boyle differs from Connery. “I think my child’s life will be very different from mine,” he asserts. “Incredible changes in science and technology make it hard to imagine what the future will be like. I believe people will somehow be different in space.”

Says Frances Sternhagen, “I have a hard time now wondering if my children are going to be able to find work or a place to live, or a place to go on vacation where there will be a sense of privacy. There are so many places that were once open country which are now suburbs. I envision for my children possible loss of privacy and more adaptability to that loss. But it doesn’t seem to me human nature will change that much.”

Writer/director Hyams sees a mining operation such as the one on Io as a frontier. Says Hyams, “Frontiers have always seemed to me to be dangerous places of enormous hardship. People building it are always looking over their shoulders, rather than ahead, trying to stay alive. They’re willing to put up with Hell for the chance to make some big quick money.”

The volcanic moon of Jupiter is indeed a vision of Hell, its crust seething with tidal forces that heat its upper layer inducing eruptions which spew hundreds of kilometres above the surface. To production designer Philip Harrison, special effects supervisor John Stears and costume designer John Mollo, as well as the film’s other designers and technicians has fallen the awesome task of bringing Hyams concepts to life for the film.

As a result of the effort and commitment on both sides of the cameras, Outland emerges as powerfully relevant drama, building to a climax in terms of conflict and character which explodes with stunning force and breathtakingly visual suspense.


JOHN MOLLO: A HISTORIAN DESIGNS FOR THE FUTURE

Outland Screencap

John Mollo, costume designer, had his work cut out for him, so to speak.

Writer/director Peter Hyams sought a harsh look in keeping with the difficult and dangerous work taking place on Con-Am #27. He was not looking for space-age designer clothes. Mollos task was to design for the ordinary man of the future.

An acknowledged expert on military costumes, who has six books on the subject to his credit, Mollos career in films began as a technical adviser on The Charge Of The Light Brigade. But there can be no greater testimony to his talent as a designer for the screen than the fact that his very first effort brought him an Academy Award and the kind of recognition designers dream about but seldom achieve. The name of that first film was Star Wars, and his subsequent efforts have been no less distinguished, encompassing The Empire Strikes Back and Alien in addition to Outland.

Outland Marshal Badge

He finds the challenge of his current assignment particularly fascinating. Basically, these are work outfits that have been issued to the workers by Con-Am. We decided to aim for a more technological look rather than go for the classical heavy space suits with which audiences have become familiar. At Con-Am #27, the workers wear overalls in primary colors which denote their particular jobs. And they put on helmets and backpacks when they go out into the hostile environment.

Prior to his foray into the world of designing for films, Mollo was best known for his book Military Fashion, covering the history of European and American uniforms from 1640 to 1914. It is a comprehensive view of the subject and made its author a recognised authority on uniforms. In line with this, he is particulary proud of the workers’ helmets he designed for Outland. Considering them to be unique.

Sean Connery

“The helmet is made of white plastic and vacuum formed which means that the plastic is drawn down over a mold in a vacuum, like making a box of chocolates, and the result is very lightweight.”

Two lights are affixed to the outside of the helmet on either side of the head with small lights around the inside of the perspex visor. Fans have been put in the back for the convenience of those wearing the helmets.

Says Mollo, “Without ventilation, you often find the actors are flaking away.”

Outland Suit Helmets
Outland Space Suit
Outland Suit Patches

One of the original suits used in the film

Outland Sticker and Patches

The society on Con-Am #27 is androgynous. Men and women dress alike. The leisure clothes are not too dissimilar from those worn by off-duty oil rig workers. “Or,” Mollo adds slyly, “a film crew on location after work.”

In his office at Pinewood Studios in England, Mollo sat amidst countless pairs of laceless boots in various stages of being dyed. On the walls were a variety of multi-coloured patches, each neatly labelled to symbolise the different functions of various workers. Some are obvious, such as the classic snake design indicating medical staff and crossed spanners for maintenance.

Why does Mollo prefer designing uniforms to general fashion? “Because,” he replies, “every uniform has a job that goes with it. That defines it and gives it a function. I suppose I really like it because it’s practical.”


GIVING SPACE THAT LIVED-IN LOOK

Sean Connery

Coffee dregs splattered against an already grimy locker door. Hyams, on set, grinned with satisfaction as he watched the liquid drip down unevenly, staining the surface even more.

Outland, is a suspense-filled drama set on Con-Am #27. Living space is at a premium dictating that workers be herded together in small, functional units which have a sombre, claustrophobic, almost penitentiary-like atmosphere.

Explains the writer/director, “The mining colony is a location, not a subject. A frontier is a hard, gritty, unpleasant place to be, and the people building it are always looking over their shoulders rather than ahead. Trying to stay alive and putting up with Hell while making some quick big money is the kind of commerical venture Con-Am #27 is involved in.”

Working closely with Hyams, production designer Philip Harrison created a very realistic milieu. The workers’ quarters, dominated by the bunk area, tower from floor to ceiling. The layer upon layer of metallic, horizontal cubicles resemble an endless succession of rabbit hutches.

The cubicles represent a masterpiece of minimal design. Over each bed are two television screens: one for data on the mining community, the other for entertainment.

Says producer Richard A. Roth, “You can imagine that the kind of entertainment programmed to the workers is not for children.”

Points out Harrison, “The beds themselves are made of thermal foam so they can be hosed down.”

Outland Screencap

The lack of privacy, Roth likens to life aboard an aircraft carrier. The locker room is on the ground floor, with its long row of shower heads backing onto a row of grimy basins. Flat flourescent light emanates from ceiling and floors.

Says Harrison, “We used perforated sheet metal because you can light through it. Also, it has an interesting texture and looks industrial.”

The airlock door is superbly engineered. Protecting the workers from the hostile environment outside, it offers entrance to the mine shaft elevator. Harrison is particularly proud of its design. The door is the machine itself rather than having hidden works, and a complex mass of machinery and mechanics it is.

A corridor leads to the airlock door with ugly pipes jutting out at waist level, where the men can fill up their oxygen tanks. Adjacent to this, row upon row of helmets and bulky backpacks are in evidence, suspended from giant metal hangers like disembodied tin soldiers.

“They give a sinister look to the place,” observes Hyams. “You imagine they could come to life.”

Hyams and Harrison feel that when technology is advanced enough, in the near future, for this kind of commercial community to exist, many of the designs for the film will in fact be accurate.

Says Harrison, “To design something functionally means to design it logically.”


A PERFECT MODEL FOR THE FUTURE

Outland concept painting

Outland concept painting

Outland concept painting

Concept paintings the model builders used to guide them

The silver-grey city on stilts, rising from a sulphurous plain, is an awe-inspiring sight. It is a superbly intricate model of a mining complex on Io, built on a scale of 1 to 200.

Explains Hyams, who conceived it with production designer Philip Harrison, “We decided the place would look like an oil rig, extraordinarily functional with the machinery very much in evidence.”

The model was built by Martin Bower and Bill Pearson of Bowerhouse Model Associates, and special effects supervisor John Stears.

Outland 27 Mining Complex

Says Stears, “Io is unable to escape the magnetic forces of Jupiter and gets pulled in all directions, like a lump of dough. As a result it generates a lot of heat and is much hotter than the other moons orbiting Jupiter. Besides which, it is volcanic. Because of this, we conceived the complex as being built on stilts. Each stilt is on a ball bearing which moves in response to signals from lasers. Therefore, if the surface moves, the stilts will realign themselves and the actual structures will always stay perpendicular.”

Outland Screencap

The length of the model is approximately 18 feet, which represents two miles.

“It is made,” Stears explains, “of many different types of plastic and metal. Because we used extremely thin injection moulding, we had to have a tool especially made for us that was sufficiently fine to make all the geodetic structures. These all come from one small piece of injection moulding about 5″ x 4″. And they all have to be cut up and joined together.”

Outland Screencap

The mining complex consists of seven separate modules, each with a specific function. There is the mine; the refinery – nicknamed the Pompidou Centre after Frances’ controversial modern museum; a solar station from which power is generated; two greenhouses which produce not only vegetables for the community but also oxygen for the plants; the living quarters and the space shuttle landing pad. Most of them are mechanised and include radar scanners, elevators, deflector shields and gantries.

Hyams envisioned the space shuttle as looking something like the Statten Island Ferry. “The object of the shuttle is to take as much freight as possible, so it seemed expedient to just take a big box and stick huge engines on it, so you can get it up and down.”

Outland Shuttle Model

Martin Bower and the shuttle model, restored some years after the original production

In further describing the model, Stears says, “We used more than four miles of fibre optics to light it, and had to test 20 or 30 different types before finding one that would transmit the right resolution of light. Normal fibre optics are directional, so you can only see the light being passed through it if you look straight at the fibre. If you look at it from a slightly oblique angle, it normally diminishes rapidly. What we are using, however, is a particular type of plastic optic which disperses the light and gives us an angle of light of about 45 degrees with little or no fall off. We are able to photograph at f22 which is the equivalent of a 250w halogen bulb.”

Outland

“The idea behind the design,” says Hyams, “is that the people who built the mining complex weren’t concerned about how it looked but about how it functioned in protecting people from a hostile environment.”


WE’RE OFF TO SEE THE WIZARD

Outland

A group of miners, wearing gear necessary to protect them from the hostile environment of Io, walks from the mine across a bridge and waits for an elevator bringing down the next shift of workers, which will then take them to their living quarters on the mining complex known as Con-Am #27.

Certainly there is no reason to suspect from the foregoing description of the scene that it represents a total technical departure in filmmaking.

Yet, such is the case for Outland. The mine in the scene is an image projected onto a huge screen, and there is no elevator to take the workers up and down. The whole illusion has been created by a revolutionary process invented by John Eppolito, and financed and developed by Tom Naud and his partner Peck Prior. On the part of all three gentlemen, there is a reluctance to discuss the mechanics of the illusion, just as a magician does not disclose how he does his tricks. The particular wonder of it is the total realism with which visual effects are created through a revolutionary use of perspective and illusion.

“The greatest compliment Introvision receives is that no one detects where it was used,” says Eppolito.

“Introvision has a lot to do with magic,” says Tom Naud. “A trickle of hypnotism, too, of a certain sort. After all, it’s your mind that puts three dimensions into a picture.”

Outland Screencap

After seven-and-a-half years of hard work to bring their system to perfection, at a cost of more than $1.5 million, Eppolito, Naud and Prior feel that Introvision is making the most auspicious possible debut because director Hyams has made such imaginatively creative use of the full range of its possibilities.

“How did it start?” reflects Eppolito. “Well, I suppose I’ve been working on it all my life because I’ve always been fascinated by illusion and perspective. In a sense, this system was born of sheer necessity because the making of motion pictures has become so costly. And it’s not necessary to build giant sets when you use Introvision. You can suggest them and they look real. At any rate, I was working on a television show which I wanted to sell, and when I discovered how expensive the special effects were going to be, I said to myself, ‘There’s got to be a better way. I’m going to find out how to do those things on my own.’ So, for two years, I came home from my job at ABC and worked in my garage at night. Mind you, if I hadn’t had the kind of help Tom and Peck gave me, I would have lost everything.”

Recollects Naud, “John Eppolito had been experimenting about four years when a friend told us that he had accomplished something incredible, and persuaded us to see for ourselves. What we saw was so astounding, I decided then and there to give up my work as a producer and writer in films and concentrate on helping Eppolito seeing his work to completion.”

There is a picture which Eppolito treasures because it represents the beginning of it all for him.

“At about midnight one night on a deserted sound stage,” he recalls, “I was fooling around with an idea I had, a way to put a real live person into a still picture. I had projected a frame from The Wizard of Oz with Judy Garland standing on the yellow brick road with her back to the camera, her little dog, Toto, beside her. Then I put myself above her on the road, facing her and pointing my finger at her.”

Eppolito still has, and treasures, the Polaroid picture of himself directing the young Judy Garland. “It was a great moment for me,” he says. “Probably the way Edison felt when he first discovered motion pictures.”


FUN AND GAMES ON IO

Outland Screencap

In a smoke-clouded laser beam of light, two blackened bodies sway erotically to electronic music. The girl’s blonde mane breaks cleanly through the conical beam, sparkling with atoms of light. On the other side of an oblong bar, a beam encircles three bodies, arms and legs intertwined.

“I suppose you might say my assignment was to choreograph sex,” says choreographer Anthony Van Laast of his work for Outland.

The leisure club on Con-Am #27 represents one of the few opportunities for relaxation to the hard-working miners who have to exist under dangerous, difficult and demanding conditions.

A dark, crowded room, with flourescent lights shining harshly from tables and the bar, the club is a pick-up joint, filled with workers and hookers, intent on the serious business of drinking and negotiating liaisons.

The challenge to Van Laast was to choreograph his dancers within the confines of a 3’11” diameter laser beam spotlight. It represented a bizarre contrast to his last assignment which was staging medieval costume balls for John Boorman’s sword-and-sorcery production, Excalibur.

Outland Screencap

In a sense, Outland provided an even greater challenge. Firstly, dancers had to be chosen with the right hair and bodies to fit the beams.

Says Van Laast, “The most exciting thing is when their hair breaks through the light. We had to find dancers who had the strength to do this kind of dancing, and people who are compatible. Being erotic for hours on end is easier if you like each other.”

There were five dancers in all. Two males, one fair and one dark, and three girls, two blondes and one brunette, who worked together, in constantly-changing combinations.

Continues Van Laast, “We rehearsed for five days to build up the strength in the boys’ thighs so they wouldn’t get cramps, and to break down the inhibitions of the dancers. We also spent a lot of time working out what positions we could use, within the limitations of space. We ended up with a variety of eight different positions and then worked out a series of movements based on them. The effect we achieved is pretty sensational.”

Van Laast pauses for a moment and smiles with a twinkle in his eye. “Is it possible to describe something as more erotic than sex?”

Outland Connery Bar

The Marshal keeps an eye on the patrons


ADAPTATION PERFECTION

No mention of Outland can overlook Jim Steranko‘s stunning comic book adaptation, which ran in Heavy Metal magazine June through October 1981, and January 1982. Steranko’s drawing economy paired with his graphic design excellence was seamlessly integrated with the production design of the film itself. The shame of it is, is that it hasn’t been reprinted in English. Ever. There’s a French volume out there, I’m told.

 

[ipages id=”1″]


DOWNLOAD A PDF OF THE SCRIPT

Outland · Revised Draft · January 15, 1980

Outland · January 15, 1980 Revised Script · PDF
314 KB


CREDITS

The Ladd Company

Sean Connery

OUTLAND

Peter Boyle
Frances Sternhagen
James B. Sikking
Kika Markham
Clarke Peters
Steven Berkoff

Music
Jerry Goldsmith

Executive Producer
Stanley O’Toole

Producer
Richard A. Roth

Writer/Director
Peter Hyams

THE CAST

William T. O’Neil
Sean Connery

Sheppard
Peter Boyle

Lazarus
Frances Sternhagen

Montone
James B. Sikking

Carol O’Neil
Kika Markham

Ballard
Clarke Peters

Sagan
Steven Berkoff

Tarlow
John Ratzenberger

Paul O’Neil
Nicholas Barnes

Lowell
Manning Redwood

Mrs. Spector
Pat Starr

Nelson
Hal Galili

Hughes
Angus Macinnes

Walters
Stuart Milligan

Cane
Eugene Lipinski

Slater
Norman Chancer

Fanning
Ron Travis

Morton
Anni Domingo

Hill
Bill Bailey

Caldwell
Chris Williams

Spota
Marc Boyle

Yario
Richard Hammat

Rudd
James Berwick

Worker
Gary Olsen

Nurse
Isabelle Lucas

Prostitute
Sharon Duce

Man #1
PH Moriarty

Man #2
Doug Robinson

Maintenance Woman
Angelique Rockas

Female Prostitute
(Leisure Club)
Judith Alderson

Male Prostitute
(Leisure Club)
Rayner Bourton

Dancers
(Leisure Club)
Julia Depyer
Nina Francoise
Brendon Hughes
Philip Johnston
Norri Morgan

THE CREW

Writer/Director
Peter Hyams

Producer
Richard A. Roth

Executive Producer
Stanley O’Toole

Music
Jerry Goldsmith

Editor
Stuart Baird

Production Designer
Philip Harrison

Director of Photography
Stephen Goldblatt

Production Manager
Denis Johnson

First Assistant Director
David Tringham

Art Director
Malcolm Middleton

Costume Designer
John Mollo

Special Effects
John Stears

Special Optical Effects Supervisor
Roy Field

Casting
Mary Selway

Makeup
Peter Robbking

Head of Video Department
Richard Hewitt

Associate Producer
Charles Orme

Second Assistant Director
Bob Wright

Continuity
June Randall

Camera Operator
Freddie Cooper

Focus Puller
Steve Claydon

Clapper/Loader
Martin Hume

Camera Grip
David Cadwallader

Music Editors
Leonard Engel
George Korngold

Supervising Sound Editor
Gordon Davidson

Sound Editors
David M. Horton
Chester L. Slomka
Neil Burrow
Richard Oswald

Sound Mixer
Robin Gregory

Boom Operator
Terry Sharratt

Supervising Model Makers
Martin Bower
Bill Pearson

Model Engineer
Roy Scott

Stunt Coordinator
Alf Joint

Wire Effects
Bob Harman

Set Decorator
Stuart Rose

Production Buyer
Peter Dunlop

Construction Manager
Albert Blackshaw

Hairdresser
Colin Jamison

Costume Supervisor
Tiny Nicholls

Wardrobe Mistress
Jackie Cummins

Unit Publicist
Lynda Levy

Stillsman
George Whitear

Traveling Matte Consultant
Martin Shortall

Optical Printer
Richard Dimbleby

Optical Matte Camera Operator
Martin Body

First Assistant Editor
Russ Woolnough

Second Assistant Editors
Paul Miller
Bill Meshover

Assistant Editor Opticals
Peter Watson

ADR Editor
Jay Engel

Assistant Sound Editors
Joey Ippolito
Scott Burrow

Dubbing Mixers
Dialogue
John K. Wilkinson
Music
Robert W. Glass, Jr.
Sound Effects
Robert M. Thirlwell

Property Master
Danny Skundric

Gaffer
John May

Model Unit Camera Operator
Robert Kindred

Focus Puller
Barry Brown

Clapper/Loader
Tim Dodd

Camera Grip
Jimmy Spoard

Assistant Director
Russell Lodge

Stills Cameraman
Douglas Dawson

Choreographer
Anthony Van Laast

Production Accountant
Fred Harding

Filmed in Panavision®

Colour by Technicolor®

Recorded in Dolby Stereo

Dolby Consultant
Clide McKinney

A Ladd Company release
through
Warner Bros.
A Warner Communications Company


Outland TV Guide Ad


There’s also a post on Connery’s later film Finding Forrester


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