Star Trek is first science fiction film from the Star Trek series, released in 1979. The film was directed by Robert Wise and stars actors from the original television series, including William Shatner, Leonard Nimoy, and DeForest Kelley.
The film’s plot follows the crew of the USS Enterprise, who are called into service to investigate a menacing alien entity approaching Earth. The entity is eventually discovered to be a Voyager probe that has been modified by an advanced alien race. Kirk and his crew try to communicate with the probe, which responds in an alien language. After deciphering the message, they discover that the probe seeks to return to its creator, a race of mechanical beings called the V’ger. Kirk, Spock, and Dr. McCoy infiltrate the probe to find out more about the V’ger and convince them not to destroy Earth.
The film was a major commercial success, grossing more than $139 million worldwide. While critical reviews were mixed at the time of release, the film was popular with fans of the Star Trek franchise and had a significant impact on the franchise, leading to many more films and television series.
In reality, the film is a mediocre product with a rather flat and standardized television language, notable only for its great success and impact on the popular culture of the eighties, an era destined to produce a great deal of similar stuff.
The plot of Star Trek: The Motion Picture follows the crew of the USS Enterprise, under the command of Captain James T. Kirk (played by William Shatner), who are called back to duty to investigate an alien threat approaching Earth . The entity, which appears to be a giant cloud of energy, is capable of destroying anything in its path.
Kirk and his crew try to communicate with the mysterious entity, but to no avail. Meanwhile, Admiral Nogura orders the Enterprise to search for Mr. Spock (played by Leonard Nimoy), who has departed from Starfleet on a personal meditation mission to Vulcan.
Once Spock is found, Enterprise returns to investigate the alien menace and discovers that the entity is actually a Voyager probe that has been modified by an advanced alien race. Kirk and his crew try to decipher the message transmitted by the probe, which appears to be in an alien language.
After deciphering the message, Kirk and his crew discover the probe trying to reach its creator, a race of mechanical beings called the V’ger. Kirk, Spock, and Dr. McCoy (played by DeForest Kelley) infiltrate the probe to learn more about the V’ger and convince them not to destroy Earth.
Later, Kirk discovers that the V’ger is actually an evolved version of the Voyager probe, which has been modified and enhanced by the V’ger themselves to become a self-aware life form. Kirk manages to communicate with V’ger, convincing him not to destroy the Earth and to go in search of new life forms and new worlds.
Star Trek: The Motion Picture was produced by Paramount Pictures, directed by Robert Wise and written by Harold Livingston. The film was produced on a budget of approximately $46 million, making it one of the most expensive films ever made at the time.
Principal photography for the film began in June 1978 and took place primarily at Paramount Studios in Hollywood, California, with some scenes filmed in other locations, including California’s Mojave Desert. The film’s production ran into several problems, including delays due to costumes, special effects, and editing.
The design of the objects and space shuttles was entrusted to a young artist named Andrew Probert, who created many of the concepts used in the film. The alien entity, known as the “V’ger,” was designed by Douglas Trumbull, a noted special effects specialist who worked on films such as 2001: A Space Odyssey and Close Encounters of the Third Kind.
The film score was composed by Jerry Goldsmith, who created an iconic theme song that would become a staple of the Star Trek series.
Despite the difficulties encountered during production, Star Trek: The Motion Picture was a box office success and spawned a series of television sequels and spin-offs.
Distribution and Reception
Star Trek: The Motion Picture was released in U.S. theaters on December 7, 1979, and was released in Italy on April 18, 1980. The film was a major commercial success, grossing more than $139 million worldwide, an notable for the time.
Critics had mixed opinions of the film: some critics praised Jerry Goldsmith’s special effects and score, calling them innovative and impressive for its time, while others criticized the screenplay and lack of action-adventure.
In reality the film, despite the effort of some American critics of the time to incense it, is rather mediocre and often unintentionally ridiculous. Banal television language lowers its level even more, suitable for a mass audience not interested in art and quality cinema.
Still, Star Trek: The Motion Picture resonated with fans of the series, who were thrilled to see the original cast get back together on the big screen. Additionally, the film’s success led to the creation of a new television series, Star Trek: The Next Generation, which would air from 1987 to 1994.
Overall, Star Trek: The Motion Picture represented a major turning point for the series, marking the beginning of a new era for the Star Trek franchise and cementing its position in the collective imagination as one of the most icons of television. If you like art and quality cinema then avoid it calmly: it’s not stuff for you.
The style of Star Trek: The Motion Picture is influenced by the science fiction genre and the original Star Trek series, which already had a large television audience in the 1960s. The film features many of the same themes and ideas as the original series, including the discovery of new worlds and life forms, the exploration of space, and confronting the ethical and philosophical challenges that arise.
The style of the film is characterized by the presence of numerous special effects, which were a technical innovation at the time. The space scenes are spectacular and full of detail, while the space shuttles and other technologies have been designed in a detailed and realistic way. In addition, Jerry Goldsmith’s score contributes to an exciting and atmospheric atmosphere, which underscores the story’s sense of adventure and discovery.
The style of Star Trek: The Motion Picture is based on the idea of creating a fantastic and immersive universe in which the audience can immerse themselves and dream, letting themselves be carried away by the adventures of Captain Kirk and the crew of the Enterprise. And it does so in a rather trivial and stereotyped way, suitable for an audience looking for entertainment without too many pretensions.
The director of Star Trek: The Motion Picture was Robert Wise, a well-known American filmmaker who had already directed many successful films, including West Side Story and The Sound of Music. Wise brought his experience and vision to the making of the film, working closely with the cast and crew to create a work that lived up to the expectations of fans of the original series.
Wise paid close attention to the direction of the actors, trying to maintain consistency with the characters that the audience already knew from the television series. Additionally, he worked closely with the special effects artists and soundtrack composer to ensure the film had a uniquely immersive look and feel.
Thanks to his experience and his ability to manage large productions, Wise was able to successfully direct a film that had a lasting impact on popular culture and helped to solidify the popularity of the Star Trek series in the world of cinema and of television.