Star Trek: The Motion Picture (1979) – Robert Wise


The Sci-Fi Chronicles lets me settle in to enjoy another one of my favorites… featuring one of my favorite film scores, this one by Jerry Goldmsith, the U.S.S. Enterprise leaps from the small screen to the the theatrical one with this first film which isn’t for everyone, but the older I get, the more I enjoy.

Originally planning for a second television series, after Paramount saw the success of Star Wars, they shifted gears and worked to bring Captain James T. Kirk (William Shatner), Spock (Leonard Nimoy) and McCoy (DeForest Kelley) to theater houses across the world.

Featuring a story that seems pretty familiar, the film can be seen as slow and ponderous, but I honestly prefer to see it as one that takes its time. It doesn’t rush. It takes the time to let us enjoy examining the refit Enterprise in a four minute long sequence, that has nothing to do with the plot so much as it is about showing off the beauty of the new model, but it’s the Enterprise, looking gorgeous, familiar, and yet brand new.

After serving at Starfleet Headquarters for the past few years, Kirk leaps at the chance to take command of his beloved ship, when a strange energy cloud is charted on a direct path to Earth. With his old crew at his side, Sulu (George Takei), Uhura (Nichelle Nichols), Chekov (Walter Koenig),Scotty (James Doohan), and joined by a new first officer, and exec, Decker (Stephen Collins) and new navigator, Ilia (Persis Khambatta), they are forced to use this confrontation as a shakedown cruise for the refurbished starship.


While the film may not have all the humor we’d come to expect from the original series, it does have the sense of wonder and exploration, as well as the examination of ourselves, that the show was famous for.

As the crew, particularly our trio of Kirk, Spock and McCoy try to reconnect, they find themselves drawn into the energy cloud, and the massive ship within it. The discovery of what is at its heart no longer shocks and surprises, in fact, it makes a lot of sense, but the whole concept of a machine seeking out its creator, one it believes was made in its own image is not a new concept, and has, in fact, been explored in Star Trek before.

But that doesn’t change the sheer beauty of the film. I like everything about it. The uniforms took forever to grow on me, but I quite like them now, and would love to see them show up again at some point, the bridge, the production design, all of it, still completely enchants me.

It’s epic, it’s beautiful, and it doesn’t rush. It’s a film that wouldn’t be shot like that today, it would all be rushed, and chances to enjoy the beauty of the universe would be passed over for an explosion or two. I like that this film takes its time, it becomes more experiential for me that way, it’s a world we’re getting to look into for a time, and catching up with friends we’ve missed.

The music, the look, the cast, the Enterprise, it still resonates with me, and makes me smile, recalling my youth, and the adventures I enacted in my own imagination as I took on Kirk’s mantle, and boldy went.

The Human Adventure is just beginning…



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