“Star Trek: The Motion Picture”

No, I haven’t gone mad.

I used to love the original Star Trek tv series, especially the early ones, and especially the ‘cheap’ ones where they encounter something alien in space that wants to kill them.

There were lots of things I didn’t understand about this universe. The plots got sillier as the three series and 79 episodes progressed. I hated Kirk, but loved Spock and Scotty and Yeoman Rand. But everyone hated Kirk.

It’s a fake

The tv series fizzled to an end. It had a small but loyal audience, not enough to sustain it, and it died in 1969. And that was that.

Except, in the 1970s, “Star Wars” appeared and was a phenomenon. Companies were looking to cash in on the new interest in space films and what better than Star Trek. The cast were around, most were willing, people would be interested to see how they were…

Thus was “Star Trek: The Motion Picture” born in 1979. Spoiler alert: it was a hit.

Legendary director Robert Wise (“The Sound Of Music”) came on board. There was a script, effects companies were engaged (very little cgi and even that was basic), the cast came and the film was made.

Well, kind of. There were problems with the effects and other companies (Douglas Trumbull) were brought in to get something done. Even by the release, bits were not completed properly and newer director’s versions are available with better effects and more polished editing.

All the regular cast were there, plus some new people who suffer the usual fate. Shatner was as obnoxious as ever and some of the photography is very strange. But Janice Rand is there. And Spock.

The film had mixed reviews. Slow and boring, too long (132 minutes) were common complaints.

But let’s be clear about this. The intention was to create a big screen epic. The scene where the Enterprise is in the dry dock being refitted looks superb on the big screen. You have time to admire it and take in the detail. For Trekkers, this was heaven.

You can be a part of this place, with Jerry Goldsmith’s magnificent score taking you along for the ride. Sure on tv the effect is lost, but that was not the original intention. In 2022 it was released onto the big screen again and did OK.

The film was successful enough to spawn numerous sequels, new tv series and even memorabilia. The first sequels are good, then it goes off the rails a bit, especially as the budgets are reduced, but nearly all did well at te box office.

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