Luckily it’s just a few people that get to read this so I hopefully won’t get the Wrath of Khan treatment from the Trekkie community. But wait before you fire me out of a photon torpedo tube for my sins please, I beg, grant me one day of freedom from execution. Maybe the chance to have one last meal? I’d like to try some Klingon delights. A bregit lung and krada leg perhaps. To wash it down with a pint of that galaxy wide favourite, the intoxicating blue juice of Romulan ale. And if I was to be so bold and ask for my last night to be spent in the arms of maybe three beautiful green Orion slave girls? Well after that I’d be happy to be blasted into the Mutara Nebula or gas cloud of your choice.
As my body jettisons through the blue and purple hues my giant smile would be forever frozen on my face. But what are you going on about this time wolf boy? Well? (an inaudible whispered murmur) What was that? I can’t hear you? “Ummm Star Trek: The Motion Picture might be my favourite from the film series!” (ducks for cover)
Please let me explain before you start opening that torpedo tube door.
Kirk – “Mr Scott is it possible to fit a wolf shaped man in the torpedo tube?“
Scotty – “I dannae Captain looking at his beer belly it could be a squeeze. I cannae change the laws of physics! but aye we canna give it a go!“
Kirk – “Ok wolf make it quick you’ve got five minutes to redeem yourself“
Thank you for granting me this time Captain Kirk. So before I carry on please don’t get me wrong. I of course understand that The Wrath of Khan (1982) The Undiscovered Country (1991) and even The Voyage Home (1986) can be seen as better films. The action, humour and for all round entertainment but for me, Robert Wise’s Star Trek – The Motion Picture will always have the top spot in my heart.
Ok I need to take you back to my first viewing experience. There I was, a wide-eyed 8 year old wolf cub all fluffy and innocent. Sat mesmerised and excited on my cinema chair. The room was massive, screen 1 at the ABC Cinema on Westover Road, Bournemouth. I’d been the year before for Superman (1978). So I knew what to expect. The lights go off, you sit for a few long seconds in the pitch dark. Some kid, or maybe it was my Dad, does a fart noise! People giggle all around the darkness. You wait, the anticipation drives you crazy. Through the dark, music starts to fill the cinema. Music that would soon become iconic to me. Thanks to Jerry Goldsmith. As the soundtrack played the beginning credits started. The darkness opens to the sight of three city sized ships. Birds Of Prey. Vivid blue hues start to add contrast to the blackness of space. The visuals and sound all wash over you like a wave of wonder. Then! Klingons! This was just the opening.
For two hours I was taken on a visually stunning epic odyssey. You go from knowing there are hundreds of people sat around you to it being just you. The imagination takes over and there I was in my very own spaceship flying through the big screen before me. Hands gripping the armrest as I warp-drive long side the Enterprise. Joining the arduous and dangerous quest through space. I was part of the crew seeking out new life and new civilisations together.
I’d never seen the original Star Trek series. This was my first time. I was joined by you, Kirk (William Shatner) and that guy with the ears, Spock (Leonard Nimoy) also the one with the accent, Scotty (James Doohan). Haha, yeah you with your finger on the torpedo launch button. But however cool all you guys were there was one crew member that stood out. A strange but beguiling baldy lady. I remembered being transfixed by her screen presence. She felt alien but not in a Vulcan way. Ilia (Persis Khambatta) was her name. Even after all these years my mind goes straight to her image whenever I hear Star Trek: The Motion Picture mentioned. Iconic image. Lovely legs too. She had made a big impression me.
Another key scene that would make an impression was the gigantic blue orb of the Earth taking up the background. Whilst we pan across the space landscape from the viewing station of a small transport pod. Jerry’s strings and orchestra build the atmosphere. Slowly we see the USS Enterprise (NCC-1701) docked within an encased floating maintenance platform in orbit. People floating about fixing things. Pods slowly drifting around the ship. The grand scale of this city sized ship. That design, it looked like no other space ship I had seen. When you see your face, Captain, you can tell there had been a beloved history embedded in that smile with admiring eyes. Even as a kid you could see this ship and it’s crew had been through many adventures before. It was all overwhelming and I get a wave of warm nostalgia wash over me thinking about it.
The various visual sequences dotted about the film were like nothing I had seen before. Later in my love of film life I’d learn those visuals and dramatic sequences had been overseen and created by the legendary effects guru, Douglas Trumbull. It was truly epic and alien to me. More was to come! That Vulcan man suited up and drifted in the vastness of the technicolor void. I chuckled as he disappeared in the otherworldly bum holes! (Sorry maybe sphincter is a better term, hey I was eight years old. Mrs Wolf would probably say I still haven’t really grown up!) It was all so spectacular.
There was many more moments that I pondered. Why in the future does everyone have triangle sideburns and edges to their hair? Shocked by the human blob mess that came through the transporter. That was crazy. And even being a kid the story line blew me away with the V’Ger and Creator plot. The pure wonder was fascinating. As I grew older I’d religiously watch the original series. Fell in love with Uhura (Nichelle Nichols) and later Counselor Deanna Troi (Marina Sirtis) in the The Next Generation and Seven of Nine (Jeri Ryan) in Voyager. Yep the Star Trek opera just kept giving and expanding. And I loved every second of it.
So hopefully all of the above has shown you why I think The Motion Picture is my favourite. But just in case you are still not onboard with my statement then nothing beats Dr “Bones” McCoy (DeForest Kelley) being beamed up from the Playboy Mansion after partying with Hugh Hefner’s head in a fishbowl. Turning up moody like a pimp daddy with big beard and wearing an open necked jump suit dangling a gold medallion resting comfy on a bed of hair. Yep that’s one thing that The Motion Picture has over the other films.
Kirk – “You give a compelling argument. I will grant you your freedom and as a gesture of goodwill I’ve chatted to my friend D’Nesh. She and her two sisters, Navaar and Maras are looking forward to meeting you. Mr Scott beam him down to Orion. Have fun Wolfy…… I know you will”
Me – “Well thank you for kindness Captain I am very humbled”
I salute him whilst trying to do the Vulcan hand signal, it doesn’t quite work with my clumsy hands. I wink and smile as I start to de-materialize. Haha I’ll leave my fun with the Orion girls for your wicked imagination.