Star Trek The Motion Picture (1979) Can I Save My Own Life In The Court Of Kirk?

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.

12 thoughts on “Star Trek The Motion Picture (1979) Can I Save My Own Life In The Court Of Kirk?

  1. 🤣😂👍Love it mate! Huge Trekkie here and I can feel the Trek love in every word you write here. My first intro to Trek was a few episodes of Deep Space Nine when I was very little. Had no clue what was going on, but I knew I loved it. Later learnt what Star Trek was and I watched the original and Next Gen films, then moved on to the other TV series.

    I was blown away by the Motion Picture and loved it. My first intro to the TOS crew. As I got more into Trek I went through a long phase of considering this flick slow and not as good as the others. But now I’m back to considering it a masterpiece.

    While I do think the warmth and bond between the crew is missing here, the effects and ship models are the best we’ve ever had and it’s probably the most Trek of all the films; by that I mean it’s not crew vs enemy and all about action. This film really takes us into the unknown and uncharted territory. It also makes you think. The film is more an experience than anything else.

    I choose to believe that after retiring from Starfleet, Bones opened a 70’s themed club and styled himself after the Bee Gees. 😁Hope you had fun on Orion. 😉🤣 Live long and prosper,Mikey.🖖

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    • I remember Maddy you recommending me some great episodes from the original series. Your comment brings out a big buzz for your Trekkie love. Super passionate.
      That’s the beauty with the Star Trek universe, it’s so vast. So good to hear where people started their journey. It spans so far and so many decades that where ever you’d happen to begin, you’d have years worth of adventures to enjoy.
      I to loved Next Gen and Deep Space Nine and Voyager. I didn’t watch Enterprise that regularly though but enjoyed it when I did.
      Dare I say I’m not over fussed with Discovery though I did watch most of season 1. I do keep meaning to go back. I might not of been in the right place..
      Plus did you watch Picard? I keep meaning too. I’d heard it was a little slow paced but has lots really deep pondering moments. I reckon I like that very much. Plus Patrick Stewart is brill. Note to self “Get on with it Mikey!!!!!!!!!!!”

      HAHA Bones and his 70s themed club blasting out Bee Gees tunes. LOL..

      Great comment Maddy. Thank you 🙂

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  2. Hug fan of the original Star Trek tv series and while not wishing to divert attention away from STAR TREK THE MOTION PICTURE I will say my favorite Robert Wise movie is THE ANDROMEDA STRAIN (1971).

    He thoroughly deserved his Lifetime Achievement Award from the American Film Institute in 1998.

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  3. Talk about a love letter to The Motion Picture AND Persis Khambatta. Sounds like you’ve never gotten over that first love. Or shall I say 2? I think the film has aged well overall but no doubt that lack of action hurts it. But then it was going for Space Odyssey feel and not the old show 48 minute action plot. Still the scenery chewing and one liners between Kirk and Khan make part 2 the most enjoyable film of the series. The Best? All in the eye of the beholder as you so adeptly point out.

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  4. Very underrated ST movie. I introduced my wife to all ST movies, and at the end of the marathon I asked her, “which one is your favorite?” She picked ST:TMP. It is, as she put it, the only one that feels like the old TV show. I agreed with her. Maybe because it is the only movie produced by Roddenberry, you really get the TV series vibe. I do have to say that I prefer the Director’s Cut (different from both the theatrical version and the extended edition), which Wise prepared shortly before he died.

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  5. Well, I do believe I’ve already detailed in the past that I’m [cough, hack, cough] years older than you, so I was on a date to the first Star Trek movie. Remember the white pants that I was wearing that I hated?! It’s okay if you forgot. Obviously it was traumatic for me and I’ll NEVER forget, lol.

    What a beautiful love letter to a movie that left a huge impression. Trumball’s visuals, Goldsmith’s soundtrack, triangle sideburns, the beautiful bald lady, city-sized ships….
    I know the feeling, Mr. Wolf. I have special feelings for movies that people would probably look at today and say, “Have you stopped taking your meds?”
    Not that I feel that way about Star Trek, the Motion Picture! I liked it a lot, despite the white disco pants. My favorite is and always shall remain, though, Undiscovered Country.

    I used to call Deanna Troi “Touch Feely” woman. She annoyed me to no end! I’m sorry! Seven of Nine was Seven of Ka-Blam, right? Strategically placed to pull in the 13 to 16-year-old boys. I felt sorry for Jeri ’cause she basically couldn’t eat more than a grape and a glass of water for the entire time she was on that show, you know?!
    Of course everyone knows that Dr. King convinced Uhura to remain on Star Trek. That’s amazing. I’m glad she did!

    I’m so happy you weren’t shot out of a photon torpedo. Krada leg and Orion girls are MUCH better than floating through space, frozen and dead, even IF a smile was plastered on your face… and even IF the description of “blue and purple hues” was lyrical and almost makes one desire a similar death…..
    almost…….
    🙂 🙂 🙂

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    • Haha the infamous white pants! How could I forget that story though I’m happy to say I don’t wake up screaming in the middle of night anymore thinking about your traumatizing “date”.

      Lady Uhura was the best. It’s an amazing factoid that about MLK-JR.
      Touch Feely Troi HAHA that’s so funny. I forgot she was half-human, half-Betazoid with a psionic ability to sense emotions. (I looked it up) Yeah poor Jeri and her grapes. I was in my mid 20s when she arrived but you could say I had the mind of a 16 year! KaBlam!
      TBH my minds still not far off that age! It does make me laugh to put “deviantart” after say Seven of Nine in Google images LOL…. People are crazy!

      I’m with you on Undiscovered Country such a brilliant fun film. Especially after Shatners crazy GOD directing debut. The whodunit style and of course the quips and jokes between each other make number 6 so great. A worthy send off for the beloved old crew. They so need a rest…

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  6. “Hey there Wolfie!” Ha, that made me laugh!

    And don’t worry, Mikey, you’re not alone, as is evident by the comments above. I saw all six ST films in the theater when they were first released, and though it may be sacrilege on my part to say I only liked the first three, I will say that I watched those first three again last year, and truly loved ST: The Motion Picture, despite all the negatives I’d read about it over the years. I thought it was great there WAS a story, and not just wall-to-wall action, and I didn’t consider it slow and/or boring at all.

    But what’s weird is, after watching ST: TMP, I discovered that there was that Robert Wise director’s cut out there, and figured it had to be even better. And after tracking it down finally at my local library, I was surprised to discover that, dare I say…I liked the original version more! Part of that MAY be due to the fact that I watched the original on Blu-ray, and the director’s cut (the library rental) on DVD. Either way, it prompted me to immediately buy the first three films on Blu-ray, as well as the original series, which I’d seen many times before on TV, but am watching for the first time in order, with the enhanced effects and sound. What a blast!

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