Captain EO: Three Geniuses at Work

The decade of the 80s was a time plagued with difficulties for The Walt Disney Company. Since the death of its founder in 1966, the company began to experience a loss of relevance during the following years, releasing films with little repercussion, not adapted to the new tastes of the youth, and unable to compete with other successful sagas like Star Wars or Superman. Indeed, most of the movies they put on the big screen were a flop at the box office. In this context, in 1986, the company decided to set up an ambitious and innovative project to bring Disney back on track. This project was the 3D science-fiction short-film called Captain EO (1986), intended to be shown at Disney theme parks.

Captain EO wasn’t only remarkable for the use of innovative special effects, but also for the people who got involved in the production of the project. In that sense, Captain EO counted with Francis Ford Coppola as a director, George Lucas as a screenwriter and executive producer, and Michael Jackson as a composer and main star. In addition to them, there were other remarkable names such as James Horner, composer of the soundtrack, and Anjelica Huston, who played the villain in the short-film. All of this made Captain EO become, at the time, the most expensive film ever produced on a per-minute basis.

The plot consists on an infamous crew lead by Captain EO (Michael Jackson) who is sent to accomplish the mission of delivering a gift to The Supreme Leader (Anjelica Huston), who lives in a lugubrious world. Once the crew arrives to the planet after being persecuted by an enemy spaceship, they are immediately arrested by the henchmen of the Supreme Leader and sentenced by her to 100 years of torture.

Despite the evilness and cruelty showed by the Supreme Leader, Captain EO believes that there is a hidden beauty within her which needs a key to be unlocked. This key resulted to be his song, ‘We Are Here to Change the World’. Finally, after going through some obstacles, Captain EO and his crew managed to transform the Supreme Leader into a beautiful woman and the dark planet into a stunning paradise.

The second track of the film, ‘Another Part of Me’, which is played at the end during the triumphal exit and fly off into the space of the crew, was included two years after into the track list of the album Bad (1987). Nonetheless, the version used for Captain EO was an earlier mix.

Although nowadays very few people know of the existence of this short-film, we consider that it is a very curious fact to see the director of historical movies like The Godfather or Apocalypse Now, the creator of the Star Wars saga, and one of the most successful musical artists of all time, working together side by side in the same project.