Friday, November 11, 2011

Revisiting Star Trek: The Motion Picture (1979)

When I was growing up I had a very long introduction to Star Trek.  I recall watching a lot of The Next Generation, I remember the Borg, Data, and the rest of the crew.  I even recall getting many of the MicroMachines versions of the ships, including a life size phaser that opened up to reveal a scene.  I knew little if anything about the original series.  My first introduction to Captain James T. Kirk was not through any of the episodes but through the first movie.
 My aunt had all the films on VHS and when I was nine or ten, the first one I watched was The Motion Picture.  I was very much into adventure and science fiction (being a huge fan of Lost in Space as a kid) so when I first saw this film I was totally captivated.  The music first of all gripped me from beginning to end.  Jerry Goldsmith's score, in my opinion, is one of the greatest scores for a science fiction film (or any other film for that matter).  I remarked to myself that there must have been a soundtrack release for it. (I had just became aware of soundtrack albums after seeing my mother's LP of 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968) in the basement)  What also enthralled me was the sense of exploration and the unknown the movie instilled in me.  The scene of the Enterprise diving into the V'ger cloud was so awe inspiring for me, because of how much it reminded me of exploring the deep ocean.
I've always been fascinated by the ocean and seeing part of the V'ger ship reminded me of a giant squid, thus creating a most memorable experience.  I didn't understand all of the dialogue or themes going on in the movie, but it didn't stop me from enjoying it.  This was my first time watching the original crew of the Enterprise and I fell in love with them right away.  Many have bashed the film for its slow pacing and length, and they certainly would not have believed that a ten year old sat for over two hours watching this film, but watch it I did.  I must say I did forget this film for a long time, but watching it again today really brought back my excitement for it, my appreciation doubled.  Certainly the film is slow at times but the element of investigating the mysterious brings this film closer to the original series than most of the other Star Trek films.  I find it extraordinary that a film like this (with a lot in common to 2001) could be made only two years after Star Wars.  Its no wonder it was a financial disappointment.  People wanted swashbuckling in space and to not have to think too hard about their science fiction.  I hate to break it to you, but science fiction is supposed to make you think hard.  I know there are many people who appreciate this film as the gem it is and I'm glad to have grown up with it.  (I must have nearly worn out the VHS tape by re-watching it so much!)

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