When I was a kid, my favourite movie in the world was 1985's Captain EO. Yes, the 17-minute Michael Jackson sci-fi fantasy played at the Disney theme parks, but it also made an appearance on TV. My parents recorded it on VHS for me, and I honestly wore out the tape rewatching it so many times. And if you loved the movie as much as me, you should get excited. We now have some never-before-seen insights into the making of this Francis Ford Coppola-directed classic. Someone has uploaded a rough cut of the film to YouTube.
First spotted by WDW News Today, the rough cut is missing a ton of audio and special effects. But it gives us a peek at how Captain EO was ultimately put together by showing us the rough animation for things like when the robot turns into a drum set.
GIF: Captain EO 1985/YouTube
As WDW News Today notes, the ending of the rough cut ends with some footage from Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, which was animated by a division of George Lucas’s computer graphics company that would later become Pixar. Lucas was a co-writer with Coppola on the short film, which was advertised as the most expensive movie ever produced at the time if you measure by the minute.
Michael Jackson ultimately teaches us that if you have enough magic flowing from your hands, you can overcome evil through the power of dance. And as you can see, that glowing magic wasn’t quite flowing until George Lucas and his special effects wizards got ahold of it.
If you’ve never seen Captain EO at Disneyland or on TV during its run from 1986 to 1996, you should definitely watch the completed version first. There are plenty of options for that on YouTube as well. But if, like me, you know the entire show by heart from repeated viewings as a toddler, you really have to check out the rough cut. You won’t regret it.
And if I’ve scratched a nostalgia itch and you just need more Captain EO, you can also check out the web series episode of Defunctland that focuses on Captain EO. It has all kinds of fun facts and background on how the movie got made.