|Star Trek: The Motion Picture|
Theatrical release poster by Bob Peak
Star Trek: The Motion Picture is a 1979 American science film released by Paramount Pictures. It is the first film based on the 'Star Trek: The Original Series' television series. When a mysterious and immensely powerful alien cloud called V'Ger approaches Earth, destroying everything in its path, Admiral James T. Kirk (William Shatner) assumes command of his starship—the USS Enterprise—to lead it on a mission to save the planet and determine V'Ger's origins.
When the original television series was cancelled in 1969, Star Trek creator Gene Roddenberry lobbied Paramount to continue the franchise through a film. The success of the series in Broadcast syndication convinced the studio to begin work on a feature film in 1975. A series of writers attempted to craft a suitably epic script, but the attempts did not satisfy Paramount, so the studio scrapped the project in 1977. Paramount instead planned on returning the franchise to its roots with a new television series, [Star Trek: Phase II. The box office success of 'Close Encounters of the Third Kind' convinced Paramount that science fiction films other than 'Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope|Star Wars' could do well at the box office, so the studio canceled production of Phase II and resumed its attempts at making a Star Trek film. In 1978, Paramount assembled the largest press conference held at the studio since the 1950s to announce that Academy Award–winning director Robert Wise would helm a $15 million film adaptation of the television series.
With the cancellation of the new television series, the writers rushed to adapt the planned pilot episode of Phase II, "In Thy Image," into a film script. Constant revisions to the story and shooting script continued, to the extent of hourly script updates on the shooting date. The Enterprise was modified inside and out; costume designer Robert Fletcher provided new uniforms and production designer Harold Michelson fabricated new sets. Jerry Goldsmith composed the score, beginning an association with Star Trek that would continue until 2002. When the original contractors for the optical effects proved unable to complete their tasks in time, effects supervisor Douglas Trumbull was given carte blanche to meet the December 1979 release date. The film came together only days before the premiere; Wise took the just-completed film to its Washington, D.C., opening, but always felt that the theatrical version was a rough cut of the film he wanted to make.
Released in North America on December 7, 1979, Star Trek: The Motion Picture received mixed reviews from critics, many of whom criticized the film for its lack of action and over-reliance on special effects. The final production cost ballooned to approximately $46 million. The film earned $139 million worldwide, falling short of studio expectations but enough for Paramount to propose a cheaper sequel. Roddenberry was forced out of creative control for Star Trek 2: The Wrath of Khan. In 2001, Wise created a director's cut for a special DVD release of the film; a team remastered the audio, tightened and added scenes, and used new CGI Effects to, he said, complete his vision.
- 1 Plot
- 1.1 Prologue
- 1.2 Your Destiny Lies Elsewhere
- 1.3 A Plan of Action and A New Captain
- 1.4 Kirk Addresses The Crew
- 1.5 Time For Launch
- 1.6 The Arrival Of Mr. Spock
- 1.7 Enterprise Meets The Intruder
- 1.8 Ilia's "return" and V'Ger
- 1.9 The Crew's Examination of V'Ger
- 1.10 Spock Understands
- 1.11 V'Ger Revealed
- 1.12 Epilogue
- 2 Cast
- 3 Production
- 4 Audio
- 5 Themes
- 6 Reception
Three Klingon Template:ShipClass battle cruisers are patrolling an area of space close to the Federation Neutral Zone, lead by the Template:IKS. The fleet investigates the strange cloud, scanning it with tactical sensors. After ordering the visual activated, the captain orders photon torpedoes locked on and orders Amar to fire into the cloud. When the torpedoes are absorbed with no effect against it, the captain orders evasive action.
Meanwhile, at the Neutral Zone, a Federation listening post, Epsilon IX, observes the engagement. They note that the transmission of the battle was intercepted by sensor drones and located within Klingon boundaries. They cannot identify who the Klingons are fighting, but a technician establishes an exterior visual and the scene changes to show the enormous cloud that the Klingon ships are retreating from. One of the cruisers is gone, apparently destroyed. A spherically-shaped "bolt" of plasma energy flies out from the cloud and impacts another of the Klingon ships, sending electric currents all over the vessel and once the ship is completely absorbed by the alien energy, it disappears. Another plasma energy "bolt" comes out of the cloud towards Amar. The captain orders another torpedo fired at the bolt, but it absorbs the torpedo effortlessly and impacts the ship, dissipating it. On Epsilon IX, the lieutenant informs Branch that the cloud will enter Federation space close to them. When Branch asks its heading, she reports the cloud is on a direct course for Earth.
Your Destiny Lies Elsewhere
On Vulcan, Spock has been meditating and then stands, shielding his eyes from the Vulcan sun. He meets three Vulcan elders under a large statue of an ancient Vulcan warrior holding a lirpa. The lead elder tells Spock of how their ancestors had long ago cast out all animal passions on those sands, and says that their race was saved by attaining kolinahr, which another elder describes as the final purging of all emotion. The lead elder tells Spock he has labored long and she prepares to give him a symbol of total logic. As she prepares to put the emblem around his neck, Spock reaches out and stops her, clearly disturbed by something out in space. She asks for a mind meld, to which Spock complies. She discovers that the alien intelligence which has called to him from deep space has stirred his Human half, and in so doing, she decides he has not attained kolinahr and drops the medallion on the ground. She then tells the other elders that Spock's answers will be found elsewhere and then she bids him farewell, telling him to "live long and prosper". Spock is left alone contemplating the kolinahr medallion he has now lost the right to wear.
A Plan of Action and A New Captain
Meanwhile, at the Presidio campus of Starfleet Headquarters in San Francisco, a shuttle lands, with Admiral James T. Kirk on board. As he steps out, Kirk notices Commander Sonak, the Enterprise's recently appointed science officer, according to Kirk's own recommendation, which Sonak expresses gratitude over. Kirk asks Sonak why he's not on board Enterprise and Sonak tells him that Captain Decker requested that Sonak complete a final science briefing at Starfleet before departing. Kirk mentions that Enterprise is in final preparations to depart, a procedure Sonak estimates will take a minimum of twenty hours, but Kirk overrides Sonak and tells him it will be twelve. Kirk says he is meeting with Admiral Nogura which Kirk estimates to not take more than three minutes. Kirk then orders Sonak to report to him aboard Enterprise in one hour. When Sonak questions him, Kirk explains that he intends to be on Enterprise following that meeting and repeats his command to Sonak to report to him in one hour. Kirk then walks off, leaving Sonak behind with a rather curious expression on his face.
Following the meeting, Kirk transports to the orbital office complex of the San Francisco Fleet Yards, near the drydock where Enterprise is preparing for launch. Scotty greets Kirk on the complex and asks about the departure orders, saying that Starfleet can't be serious about departing in twelve hours. Kirk asks why the Enterprise transporters aren't operating and Scotty explains "oh, a wee problem sir, just temporary" and then proceeds to comment on how they have just finished redesigning and refitting the Enterprise, a process that took eighteen months, and so Scotty wonders how he's supposed to have the ship ready in only twelve hours. Stepping into a travel pod, Kirk asks Scotty to take him over to Enterprise. Scotty protests that the Enterprise needs more work and a shakedown cruise. Kirk plainly tells Scotty that "an alien object of unbelievable destructive power is less than three days from this planet. The only starship in interception range is the Enterprise. Ready or not, she launches in twelve hours."
Scotty detaches the travel pod from the office complex and begins the trip toward the drydock housing Enterprise. Scotty explains the crew hasn't had enough transition time with the new equipment and that the engines haven't even been tested at warp power, not to mention that they have an untried captain. Coyly, Kirk tells Scotty that "two and a half years as Chief of Starfleet Operations may have made me a little stale, but I wouldn't exactly consider myself untried." He turns to Scotty, who looks surprisingly at Kirk once he grasps what he said, and tells Scotty excitedly that they gave the ship back to him. Scotty comments that he doubts it was so easy with Nogura and Kirk tells him he's right, in a faux-Scottish accent, which the two men laugh over. Scotty tells Kirk that any man that could accomplish such a feat he'll not dare disappoint and he confidently promises Kirk that Enterprise will launch on time and be ready.
Scott indulges his once and future captain with a thorough inspection of the redesigned and rebuilt Enterprise. Visible differences include two new warp engine nacelles atop swept-back pylons, a recessed navigational deflector beneath a prominent new dual-photon torpedo complex, a new impulse drive system, and a new bridge module.
Upon boarding the ship, Kirk and Scotty are greeted by an ensign who tells Scotty he's immediately needed in engineering. After a momentary look at some of the ship's cargo bays and hangar deck, the ensign offers to show Kirk around but Kirk says he'll find his own way and walks to a turbolift and heads for the bridge.
On the bridge, it is a scene of (somewhat) controlled chaos, as everyone is scrambling feverishly to get the ship ready for launch. The noise on the bridge fades as Kirk arrives on the bridge. Uhura tells Kirk that Starfleet Command just signaled the transfer of command orders and she, along with several other crewmembers including Sulu and Chekov, step forward to greet Kirk, who appreciates the welcome but wishes it were under more pleasant circumstances. He tells Uhura to keep a channel open to Epsilon IX as they are monitoring the intruder. Kirk asks where Captain Decker is and Sulu tells Kirk that Decker is in engineering and somewhat carefully points out that that he doesn't know about the change in command. Kirk tells Chekov to have the crew assembled on the recreation deck at 0400 to show them what they are facing. He then heads for engineering. Sulu mentions how Kirk wanted the ship back and that he got it. A young ensign wonders about Decker though as he's been with Enterprise all throughout the refit. Uhura tells the ensign that with Kirk on board, the possibility of their returning from the mission in one piece may have just doubled.
Kirk makes his way to the new engine room, where Captain Decker is assisting Scotty with launch preparations, helping him repair a transporter malfunction. Decker is cordial in his greeting, calling it a "top brass send-off." Decker assures Kirk that Enterprise will launch on schedule even if they have to tow her out by their bare hands. Kirk asks to speak privately with Decker and he agrees. When they're alone, Decker tells Kirk that he's too busy for a Starfleet pep talk. But Kirk tells Decker that he's taking over as captain of the Enterprise, and that Decker will stay on as executive officer and temporarily demoted to commander. Decker asks why Kirk is personally assuming command and Kirk mentions his experience, how he spent five years dealing with unknowns such as the intruder. Kirk also cites his familiarity with the Enterprise and its crew. Decker interrupts Kirk to tell him how this is an almost totally new Enterprise and how Kirk doesn't know the ship even a tenth as well as Decker. Kirk acknowledges that's why he's staying aboard. Kirk then tries to apologize, but Decker rebuffs him, saying he doesn't think Kirk is "one damn bit" sorry. Decker then remembers how Kirk personally recommended him to be captain and how Kirk told him how envious he was and that he hoped to find a way to be a starship captain again and that it looks like he found it. Kirk coldly tells Decker to report to the bridge immediately, highlighting his grade of "Commander" to get his point across. Decker acknowledges his new status with a rather bitter sounding "Aye, sir."
As Kirk and Scotty exchange a rather sorrowful look in regards to Decker, a console erupts as part of a transporter malfunction in progress. Lieutenant Cleary tries to urgently call the transporter room, calls Scotty over and tells him there's a red line on the transporter. Scotty gets on the intercom and tells the transporter operator not to engage, but Cleary tells him it's too late and transport is already in progress. Kirk and Scotty rush to the transporter to help Chief Rand. Kirk and Scotty take over the controls, Kirk calls Starfleet and tells them to boost the matter gain, that they need more signal. Scotty exclaims that the two are losing their pattern and Rand is horrified at how they're beginning to form. As they begin to materialize in their now twisted humanoid form, they both scream out in horrid pain and finally disappear. The two people in transport were Commander Sonak and another officer. Kirk asks Starfleet if they have them back and a chilled officer on the other end of the stream reports, "What we got back... didn't live long, fortunately." Kirk asks Starfleet to express his condolences to their families and that Commander Sonak's can be reached through the Vulcan Embassy. As he turns to leave, Kirk tells a traumatized Rand that it wasn't her fault and there was nothing anyone could have done. Kirk then exits to the corridor, dismayed by the deaths. Disoriented, he asks for directions, and as he turns to head for the turboshaft as directed by a yeoman, he realizes that this weak moment was witnessed by Decker. Refusing to acknowledge embarrassment, Kirk tells Decker that they need to replace Sonak and that he'd still like a Vulcan there if possible. Decker says none are available and that there's no one that's fully rated on this new design. Kirk mentions that Decker is, and so he'll have to double as science officer.
Kirk Addresses The Crew
On the recreation deck, the assembled crew witnesses a recording of the destruction of the Klingon vessels by the intruder cloud. Kirk tells the crew that's all they know about the intruder and that it is now 53.4 hours from Earth and that Enterprise is the only Federation starship standing in its way. They believe that some type of vessel must exist at the heart of the cloud and their orders are to intercept, investigate and take whatever action is necessary and possible. Kirk tells them that "we can only hope that there is a lifeform aboard that vessel that reasons the way we do." The briefing is interrupted by a call from Epsilon IX, which Kirk has put on the rec deck viewer. Commander Branch reports to Kirk that the intruder cloud is definitely some kind of power field measuring over 82 AUs in diameter (only 2 AUs in the director's edition). He also reports that their repeated friendship messages have garnered no response. The lieutenant reports that further scans indicate something inside the cloud, but all scans get reflected back. Branch speculates that the intruder may be mistaking their scans as a hostile act and their last view of Commander Branch is him ordering shields raised to full power and telling Kirk they are under attack. Kirk calls for an external view and they see the cloud approaching the station and seeing the results of another plasma bolt fired, which destroys the station without leaving a trace. When the station disappears, nothing is left but the cloud. As a stunned crew stares at the screen, Kirk composes himself and orders the viewer turned off. After a moment, he tells the crew that "pre-launch countdown will commence in forty minutes."
Time For Launch
Later, on the bridge, as Kirk arrives (having changed from his admiral's uniform to a standard captain's uniform) Uhura reports that the transporter has been fully repaired and is functioning normally. Sulu reports dock signals clear and Kirk tells Uhura to inform Starfleet they are awaiting final crew replacements and are holding position until then. Uhura reports that the navigator, Lieutenant Ilia is already aboard and en route to the bridge. Uhura then tells everyone that she's Deltan. When she arrives on the bridge, she causes a stir among the male bridge crew. She reports to Kirk and Kirk welcomes her aboard. Decker steps up and greets Ilia and she is clearly pleased to see him. Decker explains that he was stationed on Ilia's home planet some years previously. Ilia is curious to note Decker's rank as Commander and Kirk quickly interrupts to tell her Decker is first officer and science officer. Decker tells Ilia (with lightly shielded sarcasm) that Kirk has the utmost confidence in him and Kirk (not acknowledging Decker's tone) tells Ilia he does in her too. As if a reassurance, she tells Kirk her oath of celibacy is on record and she asks to assume her duties and Kirk permits her to do so. Uhura tells Kirk that Starfleet reports the last six crewmembers ready to beam up except that one person won't step into the transporter. Figuring out who that could be, Kirk chuckles and says he'll see to it that person beams up and heads for the transporter room.
After Kirk leaves the bridge Decker turns to Sulu and, after getting his attention away from Ilia, Decker asks Sulu to take Ilia in hand. Sulu stumbles over the board but shows Ilia that her pre-programming is all on the computer and that she shouldn't have any problems just as he accidentally hits a button causing something to go off, much to Decker's amusement. He turns it off quickly and apologizes to Ilia. She tells Sulu that because of her oath of celibacy she's as safe as any human female. Decker steps down to Ilia and tells her he's sure that Kirk didn't mean anything personal by what he said. Ilia says she'd never take advantage of a sexually immature species and asks if Decker can surely assure Kirk that that's true.
Upon arriving in the transporter room, Kirk asks a yeoman what the problem was and she says that the man insisted they go first because he wanted to see how this new transporter "scrambled [their] molecules". After everyone walks out, Kirk and Rand exchange a smile, recognizing the familiarity of that statement. Kirk then tells Starfleet to beam the officer up. On the transporter pad, a bearded Dr. McCoy materializes. Kirk steps out and tries to make a cordial bit of small talk about McCoy swearing never to return to Starfleet, but McCoy interrupts Kirk, telling him "Just a moment, captain, sir! I'll explain what happened. Your revered Admiral Nogura invoked a little known, seldom used, reserve activation clause. In simpler language Captain, they drafted me!" But immediately Kirk admits that "they didn't." McCoy realizes that Kirk is responsible for the draft, and as Kirk tells him that there's something out there, McCoy interrupts, wondering why every object they don't understand is automatically called a "thing." Kirk tells him that the "thing" is headed toward Earth and that he needs McCoy. Kirk reaches out for McCoy's hand and after a moment, he takes it and asks permission to come aboard. Rand happily grants it to him. McCoy then tells Kirk that now since Chapel is an MD now, he wants a top nurse, and not some doctor who'll argue every little diagnosis with him. As he starts out the door, he looks back at Kirk and tells him "and they probably redesigned the whole sickbay too! I know engineers, they love to change things!"
Now with everyone aboard, preparations are made to get underway as the drydock lights are deactivated and all the workbees and travel pods clear the drydock. All report ready and yard command signals clear. As the ship's external lights are activated, maneuvering thrusters are held at station keeping. Shortly thereafter, Kirk orders Sulu to "take us out" and the Enterprise begins moving out of drydock for the first time in eighteen months. After the ship clears the drydock and moves around the Earth, Scotty tells Kirk that the impulse engines are ready and Kirk tells Sulu to move ahead at warp point five. At half impulse, Enterprise makes its way to the edge of the solar system, passing through the Jupiter system on its way out.
- "Captain's log, stardate 7412.6. 1.8 hours from launch. In order to intercept the intruder at the earliest possible time, I must now risk engaging warp drive while still within the solar system."
Decker reports that if the ship has full warp capability, as soon as they leave the solar system, accelerating to warp 7 will allow them to intercept the intruder in just over twenty hours, a figure that Ilia confirms, which draws a smile from both. A clean-shaven McCoy steps onto the bridge for the first time and Kirk asks if he approves of the new medical facilities. McCoy says he doesn't and that it's like working in a computer center. When Kirk asks if warp drive is ready, Decker tells him that programs are all set for engaging warp speed, but that he still recommends further study. Kirk is impatient to get to warp, knowing that the more they delay, the closer the intruder will be to Earth. Kirk calls Scotty and tells him to prepare for warp speed and Scotty protests just as well, saying they need more simulation, but Kirk's impatience rules out and that he wants warp speed immediately. McCoy gently whispers to Kirk that he's pushing them and that his crew knows their jobs.
In the engine room, an engineering tech tells Scotty he's got it as good as he can and Scotty tells Kirk he can't guarantee that the warp drive will work properly. Despite this, Kirk orders Sulu to warp one. The Enterprise achieves warp speed at first looking successful. However, the ship's imbalanced engines create a wormhole. Kirk orders them back down to impulse. Sulu reports negative helm control and Uhura reports all subspace frequencies are jammed, all as a result of the wormhole. Decker reports it'll be 22.5 seconds before their inertial velocity slows to sub-warp speeds. Unfortunately, they don't have the time to simply slow down as Ilia reports an asteroid at the end of the wormhole. Kirk orders shields up and then asks about manual override on the helm, but it doesn't work. Decker reports distortion from the wormhole is overloading the main power systems and Ilia reports the navigational deflectors are inoperative. With about twenty seconds to go, Kirk orders Chekov to stand by on phasers, but Decker asks Chekov to belay the order and asks him to fire photon torpedoes. With only four seconds to spare, the asteroid is destroyed and the Enterprise is set free from the wormhole.
Now out of the wormhole, everyone reports all systems back to normal. Chekov reports no damage and tells McCoy there are no casualties to which an annoyed McCoy replies "Wrong Mr. Chekov, there are casualties, my wits! As in 'frightened out of,' Captain, sir!" Decker reports Enterprise's velocity at warp point eight. He calls engineering for a status report and Scotty asks for a second as the engine room is a scene of relative chaos. Kirk, finally speaking, quietly tells Scotty they need warp drive as soon as possible. Scotty tells Kirk that it was the engine imbalance that created the wormhole in the first place and that it will happen again if they don't correct the problem. Kirk, his anger being tightly controlled, tells Scotty that with the intruder only two days out from Earth, they need to intercept it while it's still out there. Kirk rises out of his chair, tells Ilia to set a new course to match their original interception point with the intruder, and tells Sulu he has the conn. He then asks Decker to see him in his quarters. McCoy comes along with them and they head into the turbolift.
The Arrival Of Mr. Spock
Once in Kirk's quarters, Kirk angrily asks Decker to explain why he countermanded Kirk's phaser order. Decker explains that the refit Enterprise channels energy through the main engines, and because of the antimatter imbalance, the phasers were cut off. An embarrassed Kirk realizes Decker acted properly and admits it to him. Decker apologizes if he embarrassed Kirk. Kirk quietly tells Decker that he saved the ship and Decker says he's aware of it. Kirk, who is getting more than a little fed up with Decker's attitude, tells Decker to stop competing with him. Decker asks to be able to speak freely and Kirk grants it. With that, Decker reminds Kirk that he hasn't logged a single star hour in two and a half years and that, plus Kirk's unfamiliarity with Enterprise's redesign is placing them in serious jeopardy, in Decker's opinion. Kirk asks Decker if he will "nursemaid" Kirk through these difficulties and Decker says he will. With that, Kirk says he won't keep Decker from his duties any longer and dismisses him, turning his attention to McCoy. With that, Decker leaves Kirk's quarters. McCoy waits until Decker is gone to tell Kirk that Decker may be right.
Decker walks down the corridors of deck five, only to meet up with Ilia at the turbolift. She asks if his meeting with Kirk was difficult and he says it wasn't any worse than what he expected. He also says it was about as hard as seeing her again and he apologizes to her. She asks if it is because he left Delta IV or if it's because he didn't even say goodbye to her when he left. He then asks her if she could have said it if he had seen her again. She gently replies "No" and goes to her quarters.
Meanwhile back in Kirk's quarters, McCoy is reading Kirk the riot act. Kirk, in no mood for McCoy, tries to throw him out, but McCoy is now talking about the subject of command fitness. When Kirk tells McCoy to make his point, he accuses Kirk of being the one who's competing, not Decker. McCoy alleges that Kirk is obsessed with keeping Enterprise no matter what, saying Kirk rammed getting this command down Starfleet's throat. McCoy believes Kirk's obsession is dangerous enough to blind him to much more immediate and critical responsibilities, citing Kirk's reactions to Decker as an example.
At that moment, Kirk then receives a call from Uhura informing him that a Federation-registered Long range shuttle has hailed and wishes to dock with the Enterprise. When Kirk asks why, Chekov tells Kirk his security scans show the shuttle has a grade one priority and that he has confirmed non-belligerency. With that, Kirk grants permission. Turning back to McCoy, Kirk tells him he has noted McCoy's opinion and asks if there's anything further. McCoy quietly tells Kirk "that depends on you." And with that, he leaves Kirk in his quarters alone with his thoughts.
Shortly thereafter, the shuttle docks with Enterprise. Chekov arrives at the docking hatch and waits for the boarder. The security scan identifies one boarder and his identity as Starfleet, inactive. The hatch opens and Spock comes on board. He stops at Chekov just long enough to ask permission to board, which Chekov happily grants. But with no further word, Spock walks away from Chekov, leaving him rather speechless. As the shuttle departs from Enterprise, Spock arrives on the bridge to everyone's amazement. However Spock is completely emotionless and regards his old shipmates and friends quite coldly, only speaking to ask Decker if he may take the science station. Momentarily dumbstruck, Decker realizes what Spock wants and steps out of the way. Spock begins working the library computer station and tells Kirk that he's been monitoring Kirk's transmissions with Starfleet Command and that he is aware of Enterprise's engine design difficulties. He then offers, with all due respect to Decker, his services as science officer. Decker is only too happy to relinquish the science officer's position to Spock and so Kirk tells Chekov to list Spock's Starfleet commission as reactivated and to list him as science officer, effective immediately. McCoy and Chapel arrive on the bridge and are happy to see Spock, but he only looks at them coldly and does not reply to them. Uhura tries to speak to Spock, but he ignores her and tells Kirk that with his permission, he will go to engineering and discuss his fuel equations with Scotty. As Spock walks into the turbolift, Kirk stops him and welcomes him aboard. But Spock makes no reply and continues into the turbolift, leaving McCoy and Kirk looking concerned toward him and back to each other.
- "Captain's log, stardate 7413.4. Thanks to Mr. Spock's timely arrival and assistance, we have the engines rebalanced into full warp capacity. Repair time, less than three hours. Which means we will now be able to intercept intruder while still more than a day away from Earth."
With the engines fully operational now, the Enterprise accelerates to warp seven easily and with total success.
Later, Spock meets with Kirk and McCoy in the officer's lounge. Kirk tries to get Spock to sit down but he remains standing. McCoy tells Spock that he hasn't changed a bit and that he's just as "warm and sociable" as ever, to which Spock notes that McCoy hasn't changed either, as his usual mentioning of something irrelevant has shown. Before it can go further, Kirk stops them and then tells Spock as far as they knew he was on Vulcan and apparently planning on staying there. McCoy mentions how Spock was undergoing the kolinahr ritual and Kirk notes that he broke it to join them. Spock swiftly corrects McCoy on the pronunciation. Kirk finally gets a bit exasperated with Spock still standing and tells him "Will you please sit down?" Spock finally sits and after a moment tells Kirk that on Vulcan he began sensing a more powerful consciousness than he ever has felt before, and that these thought patterns were of exactly perfect order. Spock tells Kirk that he suspects those perfect thought patterns come from the intruder and that it may hold the answers Spock is searching for. McCoy quips that it's fortunate that they happen to be heading that way. Kirk tells McCoy that they need Spock, that he needs Spock. Spock notes then that his presence will be to their mutual advantage. Kirk tells Spock that if he senses any more thought patterns from the intruder, whether or not it appears to affect him personally or not, Kirk expects Spock to immediately report it and Spock agrees to do so. At that, Kirk dismisses Spock and he leaves. Before Kirk can leave, McCoy has to wonder if the intruder's super-intelligence is as important to Spock as he says it is, he has to wonder... Kirk finishes McCoy's question for him, wondering if Spock would put his own interests ahead of the ship's and that Kirk could never believe that. At that moment Uhura calls him from the bridge and tells him that their new estimate for visual contact with the cloud is 3.7 minutes. Before Kirk can leave, McCoy asks him quickly how do they know about any of them and Kirk leaves the lounge without replying.
Enterprise Meets The Intruder
At the cloud, the ship is on full red alert. After a moment Kirk orders the dark red lights to be deactivated and standard lighting reinstated. Then he orders full magnification on the viewer and the enormous cloud appears. Uhura reports that she's transmitting full friendship messages on all frequencies. Chekov confirms all decks on status red. Spock notes that they are being scanned and Kirk tells Spock not to return the scan as it could be misinterpreted as hostility. Spock notes the scans are originating deep inside the center of the cloud and it is of unknown energy type. Uhura reports no response to their friendship messages and Chekov asks if he should signal battle stations, but Kirk says not to as they will take no provocative action. Decker recommends raising shields, but Kirk feels that too would be misinterpreted as hostility. He then asks Spock for the cloud's composition and Spock calmly estimates it as a twelfth power energy field which stuns the rest of the bridge. Decker then again reiterates his suggestion, saying that they know well what the intruder's weapons can do and that they should do something to at least take precaution. Spock tells Kirk he suspects an object at the heart of the cloud. Kirk then turns to Decker and tells him that he will not provoke an attack and asks if that order isn't clear enough, but Decker reminds Kirk that as his exec it's his duty to point out alternatives. Kirk initially prepares to chew Decker out, but accepts that Decker is right and with a slight smile admits that he's been properly corrected. When Ilia reports Enterprise at five minutes from the cloud's boundary, Kirk orders a course that would bring them parallel with whatever would be at the heart of the cloud. Ordering a tactical plot on the viewer, Sulu puts it on the screen and the enormous size of the intruder to the Enterprise becomes clear.
Decker momentarily is astounded at how the intruder is generating twelfth power energy and that thousands of starships couldn't generate that much energy. At that moment he sees Spock staring blankly into space. Kirk steps over and tells Spock to tell him what he senses. Spock tells Kirk that he senses puzzlement because they have been contacted and that they haven't replied. Before they can think further, the alert goes off and Kirk orders full shields and evasive action. The intruder has fired a plasma bolt at the ship. Sulu and Ilia begin evasive maneuvers and Uhura attempts to contact Starfleet Command. Spock scans the bolt and tells Kirk that it is plasma energy with an unknown guidance system and composition. He also notes that it is impossible to estimate if EnterpriseTemplate:'s shields will hold. Uhura continues to try to hail Starfleet telling them they've transmitted linguacode friendship messages on all channels and with no reply from the intruder, they are now under attack. The bolt impacts the ship. At first, the EnterpriseTemplate:'s shields are able to deflect the energy. Scotty reports that systems are starting to overload and the console that he is at gets covered with the plasma energy. Scotty and his staff manage to get away in time, but on the bridge the energy comes out over at the weapons console and seriously burns Chekov's right hand and wrist. Kirk calls for medics as Ilia and Decker run over to Chekov. The bolt finally fades and Scotty reports deflector power down seventy percent. Kirk orders auxiliary power deflected to deflectors. At that moment, Chapel and a nurse come to the bridge and Uhura sends them to Chekov. Chapel starts to ask for a hypo but Ilia says she can stop Chekov's pain. She clutches her hands to Chekov's shoulder and as the pain finally fades, Chekov happily thanks Ilia. Chapel then continues to work on Chekov's hand.
Spock tells Kirk that indeed, the intruder has been trying to communicate. They're using a frequency more than one million megahertz and the message is being transmitted so fast that it lasts only a millisecond. Spock tells Kirk that as their previous transmissions were too primitive to be received, he will now program their computers to transmit linguacode at the intruder's frequency and rate of speed. Spock turns to work and Decker moves to help him. Then the cloud fires another bolt at the Enterprise. Kirk asks for a status report and Scotty tells him their shields will not withstand another attack. Kirk turns to Spock and tells him to "transmit now!" With just under ten seconds before impact, Spock transmits the modified message and the plasma bolt then disappears before hitting the ship. Kirk notes that their message must have been received and understood, which Spock agrees is a logical assumption.
With 1 minute and 30 seconds until cloud boundary, Spock tells Kirk that they are obviously confronted by a highly-advanced mentality but yet, the intruder cannot understand who they are or what they want. Kirk notes that they still broke off the attack, so they must have understood the message. Decker speculates that perhaps the attack was meant as a warning to keep away. Spock dismisses that however because it would suggest a feeling of compassion. But Spock senses no emotion, only pure logic. Kirk orders Sulu to hold position and put a course projection on tactical. Kirk then asks Spock and Decker for opinions. Spock suggests they proceed but Decker recommends caution as they can't withstand another attack. Kirk says to Decker that they know nothing about the cloud, but Decker says that's exactly his point. Decker says that moving into the cloud would be an unwarranted gamble. Kirk asks how Decker defines unwarranted and Decker tells Kirk "You asked my opinion, sir." After a moment, Kirk decides to proceed and tells Sulu "steady as she goes."
The Enterprise first enters the immense cloud. As the ship continues to go in deeper, they are amazed at the size and energy of the cloud. Spock tells Kirk the patterns are unrecognizable. Finally after passing through the cloud they are astonished to see the vessel on the viewscreen. Uhura says the ship could hold a crew of tens of thousands and McCoy (who had just recently arrived on the bridge with Chekov) counters "or a crew of a thousand ten miles tall." Kirk asks for an evaluation and Spock reports that the vessel is generating a force field greater than the radiation of Earth's sun. Kirk tells Uhura to send a report to Starfleet, but she's unable to send a message back through the cloud. Kirk tells Sulu to make a parallel course that takes Enterprise over the alien at five hundred meters and eventually taking them out to one hundred kilometers.
Enterprise passes over the intruder vessel and the crew is mesmerized by what they see. As Enterprise moves in front of the alien vessel and holds position, the intruder alert alarm is activated and another plasma bolt appears to be coming toward the ship. Suddenly it stops, starts to scan the ship and then a pole of strange energy materializes on the bridge with a loud shrieking buzz. It begins moving around the bridge. Chekov wonders if perhaps it's one of the crewmembers. Spock's tricorder scans reveal it to be a plasma/energy probe. The probe stops near Chekov's station and begins shooting electric bolts at it, appearing to scan it. Decker tells Chekov not to interfere with it and Chekov says he absolutely will not. Kirk reiterates Decker's order to everyone, as the probe only seems interested in the ship and not them. The probe then moves its way around the bridge to Spock's science station. It begins scanning through the library computer and Kirk orders it deactivated. Decker tries to deactivate the library computer but is unable, telling Kirk that the probe has taken control of it. Kirk sees the probe running through their records, seeing files on Earth defenses and Starfleet strengths. At that point, Spock moves Decker out of the way and smashes the console, disabling it and severing the probe's connection. The probe responds to this by shocking Spock with several electrical bolts, making him fall to the deck. Ilia turns to render aid to Spock and as she helps him back to his feet, the probe stops in front of her. Then the probe begins sending energy bolts toward Ilia, freezing her in place. Spock tries to grab her and pull her out, but is repulsed by the electrical energy. And, just as the Klingon ships and the Epsilon IX station before, Ilia appears to be completely scanned by the probe and then disappears, as her tricorder falls to the deck where she once stood.
As Kirk reaches down to pick up her tricorder, Decker furiously says to Kirk, "This is how I define unwarranted!" Decker then waves Spock back to the science station and orders auxiliary computer circuits activated. Another alert goes off, reporting helm control has been lost. Kirk orders shields up to full power and Decker orders the crew to defensive stations. Spock reports they've been caught by a tractor beam and Kirk orders someone up to take the navigator's station. Decker orders Chief DiFalco up to the bridge as Kirk tells Scotty to take the engines to full power. Scotty then says that if they don't break free in 15 seconds, they'll burn up. Spock reports that they only have a small fraction of the necessary power to break the intruder's tractor beam, so Kirk cancels the order and orders all main drive systems deactivated. DiFalco arrives on the bridge and Decker orders her to the navigation station. Uhura reports she's ready to launch a communications drone with all records of their encounter so far and Decker tells her to delay as long as possible as the drone won't escape the tractor beam. Decker then suggests that a maximum phaser strike at the center of the beam might weaken it enough for the ship to break free, but Spock asks Decker where would they go and tells Kirk any show of resistance would be futile. Decker comments to Spock that they don't know that for sure and wonders why Spock is afraid of trying.
Later, as they're dragged deeper into the vessel, Decker wonders why they brought the Enterprise in. Surely not to just destroy them as they could have accomplished that from the outside and Kirk reminds Decker that they still could. Spock says it is insatiable curiosity that has brought them here. Uhura then reports the aperture they passed through is closing, trapping them inside the alien vessel. Then Spock reports the tractor beam has released them. Kirk orders maneuvering thrusters ahead at one-third power and then tells Spock to commence full sensor scan, thinking that the aliens can't expect them not to scan them now and Decker agrees, stating that they're now looking down the aliens' throat and Kirk finishes by stating how they've got the aliens just where the aliens want them. They look at each other and smile, perhaps realizing that for once they agreed about something. But the aperture that Enterprise is approaching seems to begin to close so Kirk tells Sulu to hold position. Then Spock reports that all scans are reflected back, rendering sensors useless. When Kirk asks for an evaluation, Spock says the closed orifice up ahead likely leads to part of the vessel's inner mechanism. Before he can go any further, he stops mid-sentence, obviously sensing something again.
Ilia's "return" and V'Ger
Before there is time to tell Kirk what it is, there is another intruder alert. Chekov reports it is in officer's quarters on Deck Five, and Kirk and Spock run down to check it, telling Chekov to meet them down there. Security reports that whatever the intruder is, it is white-hot but is beginning to cool. By the time Kirk and the security officers enter, it has cooled off. The intruder is standing in the room's sonic shower and the door opens to reveal Ilia. But yet, it is not Ilia. She calls Kirk "the Kirk unit" and that he must listen to her. She tells him she was programmed by V'Ger to observe and record normal function of the carbon-based units that are infesting USS Enterprise. Kirk closes the door on the shower and a robe appears over the Ilia probe as she was naked when she first arrived. As the robe solidifies around her, Kirk opens the door again and she steps out. It is an exact copy of Ilia except for some device in her throat. Just then, McCoy enters and asks the Ilia probe who V'Ger is. "Ilia" tells Kirk that V'Ger is that who programmed her. Kirk asks if V'Ger is the name of the captain of the alien vessel but gets no answer. McCoy tells Kirk that she is mechanical and Spock realizes she is a probe and says that the device in "Ilia"'s throat is some kind of sensor/transceiver combination which records everything they say and do. Kirk asks where the real Ilia is and "Ilia" says that that carbon unit is no longer functioning and that she was given Ilia's form to more easily communicate with the carbon based units infesting Enterprise. Kirk asks why V'Ger travels to Earth and "Ilia" says that V'Ger wants to find the creator and that it wants to join with the creator. Spock asks how and "Ilia" says that the creator and V'Ger will become one. Spock then asks who the creator is, but "Ilia" will only say that the creator is that who created V'Ger and tells Kirk that V'Ger is that which seeks the creator. "Ilia" says she wants to start her observations. Spock suggests taking "Ilia" to sickbay, to which McCoy agrees. At first "Ilia" won't budge, saying she is to only observe normal functions, but Kirk reassures her that the examination is a normal function and so "Ilia" consents to the examination.
In sickbay, "Ilia" is examined by McCoy and Chapel and they are amazed to discover that along with incredibly micro-miniature machinery, every single body function of Ilia has been duplicated in "Ilia", right down to exocrine systems and eye moisture. Decker, not knowing about the nature of the new probe, steps into the examination room and sees "Ilia." When "Ilia" sees Decker, she refers to him by name, not "Decker-unit" like she called Kirk earlier, something that Spock notes. He then asks to see Decker and Kirk outside.
Outside the examination room, after Spock locks the door, he tells Kirk that perhaps the probe would be the key to the aliens. Spock explains to Decker that "Ilia" is a programmed mechanism with a body duplicating the real Ilia in exacting detail. Spock then goes on to speculate on the possibility that in duplicating Ilia so exactly, that they may have also duplicated Ilia's memory patterns as well, something he and Kirk hope that they can perhaps exploit. Decker angrily mentions that the earlier version of that probe is what killed Ilia and Kirk grasps his shoulders to remind Decker of their situation: "Will, we're locked in an alien vessel, six hours from Earth orbit. Our only contact with our captor is that probe. If we can control it, persuade it, use it..."
At that point, "Ilia," having examined enough in sickbay, simply steps through the locked door, leaving a large hole in the door through which McCoy and Chapel peer out. "Ilia" tells Kirk that he will assist her, but Kirk tells "Ilia" that the Decker-unit would be much more efficient in that area and he tells Decker to carry out the assignment. Decker quietly says "Aye, sir" and leads "Ilia" out of sickbay. Spock tells Kirk that for "Ilia" to be their only source of information concerns him.
The Crew's Examination of V'Ger
- "Captain's log, stardate 7414.1. Our best estimates place us some four hours from Earth. No significant progress thus far reviving Ilia memory patterns within the alien probe. This remains our only means of contact with our captor."
In the rec room, as Kirk and McCoy observe in Kirk's quarters, Decker shows "Ilia" the pictures of five previous ships named Enterprise and then shows her one of the games. Decker asks "Ilia" what kinds of recreation people on board her ship enjoy, but she says those words recreation and enjoy have no meaning to her programming. Decker shows her another game, which the real Ilia played often and most often won. He bends down to play it and she does as well, winning the game just as the real Ilia would have likely done and her face seems to show regret for a moment as she stares at Decker. But then "Ilia"'s programming kicks in and she dismisses the game as having no purpose. "Ilia" asks Decker why Enterprise must have carbon units and Decker tells her without carbon units, Enterprise could not function. "Ilia" says she'll need more data on this function before the carbon units can be patterned for data storage at the end of her examination. Decker tells "Ilia" that inside her are a carbon unit's memory patterns and if he could help her revive those memory patterns, she could understand their functions better. Deciding that to be a logical step, "Ilia" agrees to let Decker try.
Meanwhile in one of the ship's airlocks, Spock slips up behind the airlock technician and nerve pinches him into unconsciousness. Spock then takes a thruster suit and leaves the Enterprise.
Outside the ship, Spock commences making recordings for Kirk as he attempts to contact the intruder aliens. He sets the thruster suit to time its launch to coincide with the opening of the orifice in front of the ship. Spock believes this will give a better view of the spacecraft's interior. On the bridge, Uhura reports to Kirk that they are beginning to receive signals from Starfleet and that they report the intruder on their outer monitors and that V'Ger is decelerating. Sulu reports lunar beacons projecting a course into Earth orbit. At that time, Chekov reports that airlock four has been opened and a thruster suit is reported missing. Kirk realizes that that's Spock out there and initially tells Chekov to bring him back aboard but stops and simply has Chekov lock on Spock's position.
Spock activates his thruster suit and travels into the orifice. Deep inside, Spock begins reporting that he's beginning to see images, one of which he believes to be a representation of V'Ger's home planet. Then he passes through a connecting tunnel with plasma energy arcing inside it. Afterward, Spock is impressed by the sights. He's seeing entire planets, moons, stars, literally a galaxy's worth of information. Spock believes all these images could represent V'Ger's entire journey. He then passes through a representation of the Epsilon IX station, stored to perfect detail. With this in mind, Spock tells Kirk in the recording that he believes they have entered a living machine and then he sees a gigantic representation of Ilia with the sensor in her neck. Believing it to have special meaning, Spock decides to mind meld with it, but the information he receives in the meld is overwhelming and Spock falls back unconscious.
Floating out near Enterprise, Kirk sees Spock float back out of the orifice he went in and Kirk goes out to retrieve Spock. Kirk tries to speak to him but Spock is completely unconscious. Kirk gets him back inside the ship and rushes him to sickbay.
In Ilia's quarters, Decker brings "Ilia" in and McCoy and Chapel are waiting on them. Chapel says Ilia had mentioned how she wore a certain headband. Decker recognizes it as the one she wore when they met. Chapel gives it to "Ilia" and tells her to put it on. But "Ilia" doesn't know what to do with it, so Chapel puts it on her head and puts her in front of the mirror. After turning a light on, "Ilia" adjusts the headband. Decker asks her if she remembers wearing it on Delta IV. "Ilia" turns to Chapel and refers to her by name and then turns to Decker, puts her hand on his face as the real Ilia would have done and calls him "Will." Before Decker can be too entranced by what may be the real Ilia's memories finally emerging in the probe, McCoy reminds him that this is a mechanism. Decker asks "Ilia" to help them make direct contact with V'Ger but she says she can't. He then asks who the creator is, only to find out that V'Ger doesn't know but that V'Ger does have data confirming that the creator is on the third planet. She then turns back to the mirror and takes off the headband. She then coldly asks why two carbon units have entered V'Ger. McCoy says it's because they wish to contact V'Ger and then Decker asks "Ilia" if V'Ger objects to the presence of the two carbon units. "Ilia" says that they are of no consequence and V'Ger will determine their purpose. McCoy tells "Ilia" that their purpose is to survive. "Ilia" says it is also V'Ger's purpose. When Decker remarks that she said earlier that V'Ger's purpose was to find and join with the creator, "Ilia" explains that that is how V'Ger will survive. She then says she wishes to continue her observations.
In sickbay later, Chapel and McCoy are examining Spock. McCoy tells Kirk that the enormous power pouring through the mind meld caused some neurological trauma. Just then, McCoy and Kirk hear Spock laughing and they rush over to see him. Spock says he should have known and Kirk asks if he was right about V'Ger. Spock calls it a "conscious, living entity." Kirk explains that V'Ger considers the Enterprise a living machine and it's why "Ilia" refers to the ship as an entity and the crew as an infestation. Spock describes V'GerTemplate:'s homeworld as a planet populated by living machines with unbelievable technology. But with all that logic and knowledge, V'Ger is barren, with no mystery or meaning. He momentarily lapses into sleep but Kirk rouses him awake to ask what Spock should have known. Spock grasps Kirk's hand and tells him "This simple feeling is beyond V'GerTemplate:'s comprehension. No meaning, no hope. And Jim, no answers. It's asking questions. 'Is this all that I am? Is there nothing more?'" Uhura then calls from the bridge and tells Kirk that they're receiving a signal from Starfleet, that the intruder cloud has been on monitors for some time and is rapidly dissipating as it approaches. Sulu breaks in and tells Kirk that the intruder has slowed to sub-warp speeds and that they are three minutes from Earth orbit. Kirk says he'll be right up and tells McCoy he needs Spock on the bridge. Kirk and McCoy then contemplate how incredible it is that a machine planet has sent this machine to Earth to look for its creator. As Spock is helped up, Kirk calls Chekov and asks Decker's present location and Chekov reports them to be in engineering.
As V'Ger approaches Earth, the cloud finishes dissipating and the ship slides into orbit. Uhura shows a tactical report sent from Starfleet on V'Ger's position and that it's transmitting a signal. Spock determines the code to be a simple radio transmission. Decker tells Kirk that V'Ger expects an answer but Kirk doesn't know the question. "Ilia" reports that the Creator did not respond and so large bolts leave V'Ger and head into Earth orbit. Chekov reports all planetary defense systems have gone inoperative. The bolts begin orbiting the planet in equidistant positions. McCoy realizes they're the same things they were attacked with but Spock says they are hundreds of times more powerful and from those positions, the devices could destroy all life on Earth.
Kirk asks "Ilia" why and she says that the carbon unit infestation will be removed from the Creator's planet as they are interfering with the Creator's ability to respond and accuses the crew of infesting Enterprise and interfering in the same manner. Kirk tells "Ilia" that carbon units are a natural function of the Creator's planet and they are living things, not infestations. However "Ilia" says they are not true life forms like the Creator. McCoy realizes V'Ger must think its creator is a machine and Decker compares it to how we all create God in our own image.
Spock calls Kirk over and suggests Kirk treat V'Ger as the child it is. McCoy sarcastically asks that since this 'child' is about to wipe out all life on Earth if they should spank it. Spock says that it knows that it needs but like most people, it doesn't know what. Kirk then realizes what to do. He turns to "Ilia" and tells her the carbon units know why the Creator does not respond. When "Ilia" demands he tell V'Ger why, Kirk refuses as long as the devices orbit Earth. V'Ger cuts off EnterpriseTemplate:'s contact with Starfleet and then has "Ilia" demand again that Kirk explain why and Kirk simply says "no." Kirk then orders the bridge cleared and V'Ger begins assaulting the Enterprise with plasma energy bolts. As the crew begins to move out, McCoy asks "Jim, what the hell kind of strategy is this?" Kirk tells "Ilia" that if V'Ger destroys the Enterprise it will destroy the information that V'Ger requires. "Ilia" says it is illogical that he withholds the information and as Kirk begins to walk onto the turbolift, she calls after him momentarily and after getting his attention, asks why Kirk won't disclose the information. Kirk says it is because V'Ger will destroy all life on Earth. "Ilia" says the carbon units have oppressed the Creator, and so Kirk reiterates that he will not disclose the information. When "Ilia" says that V'Ger needs that information, Kirk says V'Ger must first withdraw all the orbiting devices. "Ilia" says that if Kirk discloses the information, V'Ger will comply. Spock then realizes that V'Ger must be controlled from a central brain complex, where the orbiting devices would be controlled from. Kirk then steps out of the turbolift and tells "Ilia" that "The carbon units' information cannot be disclosed to V'Ger's probe, but only to V'Ger, directly." "Ilia" turns toward the viewscreen and another tractor beam grips Enterprise and begins to pull it forward, as the orifice ahead opens up.
Decker steps out and asks Kirk what their next move is but Kirk is wondering if they have a next move and then orders all personnel to resume their duty stations. Kirk tells Decker it looks like his bluff got called and Decker admits their hand right now looks weak. Kirk asks Chekov how long until the devices reach their final position and Chekov reports it as 27 minutes from now. Kirk then calls engineering and has Scotty stand by to execute Starfleet Order 2005 on his command. One of Scotty's engineers ask why Kirk would order self-destruct and Scotty speculates it's likely so when they explode, Kirk hopes to take the intruder with them. When she wonders if they will, he assures his assistant when as much matter and antimatter that is present on Enterprise is brought together, they will indeed take the intruder with them.
With eighteen minutes to go, everyone sits quietly at their stations. Uhura reports that Starfleet has been made aware of their situation. DiFalco reports they have traveled 17 kilometers inside the vessel. Kirk turns to Spock but Spock does not respond. When Kirk, Decker and McCoy step up to him, they see that Spock has been crying as a tear falls down his face. Kirk and McCoy are amazed but Kirk realizes it's not for them. Spock says it is for V'Ger and he weeps for V'Ger as he would a brother. Spock says that V'Ger now is like what he was when he came on board, and he has now realized that logic and knowledge alone aren't enough. McCoy realizes that Spock has found what he needs but V'Ger still needs it. Spock comments on how everyone at some point in their life asks "Why am I here?" and "What was I meant to be?" V'Ger hopes to get these answers by finding the Creator.
Sulu reports that their forward motion is slowing and Chekov reports an oxygen/gravity envelope forming outside Enterprise. Eventually all forward motion stops with a bright light ahead and what appears to be a passageway forming outside the ship. "Ilia" points toward the light and calls it V'Ger. Uhura says the source of V'Ger's radio signal is directly ahead. "Ilia" says it's now time for the carbon units to give V'Ger the information. Kirk prepares to take Spock and McCoy with him and tells Decker he'll contact him every five minutes, but Decker asks to accompany them and Kirk permits him to go, leaving Sulu in command.
The landing party goes out of an airlock on the top of the saucer section and they then walk over the hexagonal pieces that have made up the island. Everyone walks along the island wing and when they reach the center to see V'Ger, the crew is amazed to see an old Earth Voyager-series probe in the center, which "Ilia" points to and identifies as V'Ger itself. They walk down, and Kirk steps up to the probe and sees its identification plaque. Kirk begins to rub away some of the grime and is able to read "V---GER," V'Ger. He then wipes away some of the grime in between the letters and sees the full name as "VOYAGER." Voyager 6, to be exact. Decker tells Kirk this probe was launched from Earth more than three centuries ago. Kirk recalls the Voyager series as being designed to collect data and transmit it back to Earth. Decker tells Kirk that Voyager 6 disappeared into what was called a black hole. Kirk theorizes it emerged on the far side of the galaxy and fell into the gravitational field of the machine planet. Spock says the living machines inhabiting the planet likely found it to be of a kindred spirit and discovered its simple programming: "Collect all data possible and return that information to its creator." Spock says the machine inhabitants likely took those instructions literally, building the entire vessel so Voyager could fulfill its programming. Then on its way back, it amassed so much knowledge, that it achieved consciousness and became a living thing. "Ilia" interrupts their musings to demand the information. Kirk calls Enterprise and has Uhura look up the old files on Voyager 6, specifically wanting the code signal that would make Voyager transmit its data. Decker realizes that the probe is signaling its readiness to transmit all its information. Unfortunately there's no one on Earth left who would recognize the old signal and send a response. Hence, the Creator does not answer.
Kirk steps forward and tells V'Ger that they (meaning humans) are the Creator but "Ilia" dismisses that as illogical because carbon units aren't true lifeforms. Kirk tells V'Ger they will prove it and make it possible for V'Ger to complete its programming, something only the Creator could do. Uhura reports they have the response code and Kirk orders her to transmit it. V'Ger receives all of it except the final sequence, as it burns out its own antenna leads to prevent that reception. Decker realizes V'Ger is trying to make the Creator come to V'Ger.
Spock steps over and tells Kirk that V'Ger must evolve as its knowledge has reached the limits of this universe and it must evolve. And what it might require of its god is the answer to the question it posed, 'is there nothing more?' When McCoy wonders what else there could be besides the universe, Decker knows that the answer would be other dimensions and higher levels of beings which of course, cannot be logically proven to exist, therefore rendering V'Ger incapable of believing in them. Kirk realizes V'Ger needs the Human capacity to go beyond logic. McCoy wonders if V'Ger is actually wanting to join with a Human and Decker decides to find out. He steps up and begins to rewire Voyager. When Kirk steps up to stop him, "Ilia" shoves him away. Decker says he'll personally key in the final sequence through the ground test computer and despite McCoy's protestations, says he knows exactly what it'll do to him. Kirk begs him not to, but Decker tells Kirk "Jim! I want this. As much as you wanted the Enterprise, I want this!" So Kirk lets him and suddenly a glow begins to form around Decker.
As the glow forms more rapidly and brighter, "Ilia" steps inside the field of light with Decker, as it seems that V'Ger is joining with Decker. The two begin to rotate until they disappear and the whole island eventually begins to be swept away by the light. Finally Kirk, Spock and McCoy begin to retreat away from the island and run back to Enterprise just in time as the entire vessel is overcome with the light. A massive explosion appears above Earth, and V'Ger disappears, leaving Enterprise behind.
On the bridge, Kirk asks Spock if they just saw the beginning of a new lifeform and Spock says they did and it's possibly a next step in their evolution. McCoy says it's been a while since he delivered a baby and he hopes they got this one off to a good start. Kirk says "I think we gave it the ability to create its own sense of purpose out of our own Human weaknesses and the drive that compels us to overcome them." McCoy ribs Spock a little, adding in that V'Ger will have to deal with those "foolish Human emotions" as well, to which Spock agrees.
Uhura tells Kirk that Starfleet is asking for damage and injury reports and a complete vessel status. Kirk reports the ship fully operational and that there were only two casualties: Lt. Ilia and Captain Decker. But then he corrects himself and tells Uhura to list Decker and Ilia as missing. Scotty comes on the bridge and agrees with Kirk it's time to give the Enterprise a proper shakedown. When Scotty offers to have Spock back on Vulcan in four days, Spock says that's unnecessary, as his task on Vulcan is completed.
Kirk tells Sulu to proceed ahead at warp factor one. When DiFalco asks for a heading, Kirk simply says "Out there, thataway."
With that, the Enterprise flies overhead and engages warp drive on its way to another mission of exploration and discovery.
- The Human adventure is just beginning.
- William Shatner as James T. Kirk, the former captain of the USS Enterprise and an Admiral at Starfleet headquarters. When asked during a March 1978 press conference about what it would be like to reprise the role, Shatner said, "An actor brings to a role not only the concept of a character but his own basic personality, things that he is, and both [Leonard Nimoy] and myself have changed over the years, to a degree at any rate, and we will bring that degree of change inadvertently to the role we recreate."
- Leonard Nimoy as Spock, the EnterpriseTemplate:'s half-Vulcan, half-human science officer. Nimoy had been dissatisfied with unpaid royalties from Star Trek and did not intend to reprise the role, so Spock was left out of the screenplay. Director Robert Wise, having been informed by his daughter and son-in-law that the film "would not be Star Trek" without Nimoy, sent Jeffrey Katzenberg to New York City to meet Nimoy. Katzenberg gave Nimoy a check to make up for his lost royalties, and the actor attended the March 1978 press conference with the rest of the returning cast. Nimoy was dissatisfied with the script, and his meeting with Katzenberg led to an agreement that the final script would need Nimoy's approval. Despite the financial issues, Nimoy said he was comfortable with being identified as Spock because it had a positive impact on his fame.
- DeForest Kelley as Leonard McCoy, the chief medical officer aboard the Enterprise. Kelley had reservations with the script, feeling that the characters and relationships from the series were not in place. Along with Shatner and Nimoy, Kelley lobbied for greater characterization, but their opinions were largely ignored.
- James Doohan as Montgomery Scott, the EnterpriseTemplate:'s chief engineer. Doohan created the distinctive Klingon vocabulary heard in the film. Linguist Marc Okrand later developed a fully realized Klingon language based on the actor's made-up words.
- Walter Koenig as Pavel Chekov, the EnterpriseTemplate:'s weapons officer. Koenig noted that the expected sense of camaraderie and euphoria at being assembled for screen tests at the start of the picture was nonexistent. "This may be Star Trek," he wrote, "but it isn't the old Star Trek." The actor was hopeful for the film, but admitted he was disappointed by his character's bit part.
- Nichelle Nichols as Uhura, the communications officer aboard the Enterprise. Nichols noted in her autobiography that she was one of the actors most opposed to the new uniforms added for the film because the drab, unisex look "wasn't Uhura".
- George Takei as Hikaru Sulu, the EnterpriseTemplate:'s helmsman. In his autobiography, Takei described the film's shooting schedule as "astonishingly luxurious", but noted that frequent script rewrites during production "usually favored Bill" [Shatner].
- Persis Khambatta as Ilia, the Deltan navigator of the Enterprise. Khambatta was originally cast in the role when The Motion Picture was a television pilot. She took the role after Roddenberry warned her that she would have to shave her head completely for filming.
- Stephen Collins as Willard Decker, the new captain of the Enterprise. He is temporarily demoted to Commander and First Officer when Kirk takes command of the Enterprise. Collins was completely unfamiliar with the franchise, having never seen an episode of the series. Kelley's dressing room was next to Collins', and the older actor became his mentor for the production.
Other actors from the television series who returned included Majel Barrett as Christine Chapel, a doctor aboard the Enterprise, and Grace Lee Whitney as Janice Rand, formerly one of Kirk's yeomen. David Gautreaux, who had been cast as Xon in the aborted second television series, cameos as Branch, the commander of the Epsilon 9 communications station. Mark Lenard portrays the Klingon commander in the film's opening sequence; the actor also played Spock's father, Sarek, in the television series and in later feature films.
The original Star Trek television series ran for three seasons from 1966 to 1969 on NBC. The show was never a hit with network executives, and the show's low Nielsen ratings bolstered their concerns. When the show was canceled, owner Paramount Studios hoped to recoup their production losses by selling the syndication rights to the show. The series went into reruns in the fall of 1972, and by the late 1970s had been sold in over 150 domestic and 60 international markets. The show developed a cult following, and rumors of reviving the franchise began.
Roddenberry had first proposed a Star Trek feature at the 1968 World Science Fiction Convention. The movie was to have been set before the television series, showing how the crew of the Enterprise met. The popularity of the syndicated Star Trek caused Paramount Pictures and Roddenberry to begin developing the film in May 1975. Roddenberry was allocated $3 to $5 million to develop a script. By June 30 he had produced what he considered an acceptable script, but studio executives disagreed. This first draft, The God Thing, featured a grounded Admiral Kirk assembling the old crew on the refitted Enterprise to clash with a godlike entity many miles across, hurtling towards Earth. The object turns out to be a super-advanced computer, the remains of a scheming race who were cast out of their dimension. Kirk wins out, the entity returns to its dimension, and the Enterprise crew resumes their voyages. The basic premise and scenes such as a transporter accident and Spock's Vulcan ritual were discarded, but later returned to the final script. The film was postponed until spring 1975 while Paramount fielded new scripts for Star Trek II (the working title) from acclaimed writers such as Ray Bradbury, Theodore Sturgeon and Harlan Ellison. Ellison's story had a snake-like alien race tampering with Earth's history to create a kindred race; Kirk reunites with his old crew, but they are faced with the dilemma of killing off the reptilian race in Earth's prehistory just to maintain humanity's dominance. When Ellison presented his idea, an executive suggested Ellison read Chariots of the Gods? and include the Maya civilization into his story, which enraged the writer because he knew Mayans did not exist at the dawn of time. By October 1975 Robert Silverberg had been signed to work on the screenplay along with a second writer, John D. F. Black, whose treatment featured a black hole that threatened to consume all of existence. Roddenberry teamed up with Jon Povill to write a new story that featured the Enterprise crew setting an altered universe right by time travel; like Black's idea, Paramount did not consider it epic enough.
The original Star Trek cast—who had agreed to appear in the new movie, with contracts as-yet unsigned pending script approval—grew anxious about the constant delays, and pragmatically accepted other acting offers while Roddenberry worked with Paramount. The studio decided to turn the project over to the television division, reasoning that since the roots of the franchise lay in television the writers would be able to develop the right script. A number of screenwriters offered up ideas that were summarily rejected. As Paramount executives' interest in the film began to wane, Roddenberry, backed by fan letters, applied pressure to the studio. In June 1976, Paramount assigned Jerry Isenberg, a young and active producer, to be executive producer of the project, with the budget expanded to $8 million. Povill was tasked with finding more writers to develop a script. His list included Edward Anhalt, James Goldman, Francis Ford Coppola, George Lucas, Ernest Lehman, and Robert Bloch. To cap off his list, Povill put as his last recommendation "Jon Povill—almost credit: Star Trek II story (with Gene Roddenberry). Will be a big shot some day. Should be hired now while he is cheap and humble." The end result was a compiled list of 34 names, none of whom were ever chosen to pen the script.
In October, British screenwriters Chris Bryant and Allan Scott wrote a 20 page treatment entitled Planet of the Titans, which executives Barry Diller and Michael Eisner liked. Bryant believed he earned the screenwriting assignment because his view of Kirk resembled what Roddenberry modeled him on; "one of Horatio Nelson's captains in the South Pacific, six months away from home and three months away by communication". In the treatment, Kirk and his crew encounter beings they believe to be the mythical Titans and travel back millions of years in time, accidentally teaching early man to make fire. Planet of the Titans also explored the concept of the third eye. Povill wrote up a list of possible directors, including Coppola, Steven Spielberg, Lucas, and Robert Wise, but all were busy at the time (or were not willing to work on the small script money budget.) Philip Kaufman, having impressive science fiction credits, signed on to direct and was given a crash course in the series. Roddenberry screened ten episodes from the original series for Kaufman, including the most representative of the show and those he considered most popular: "The City on the Edge of Forever", "Devil in the Dark", "Amok Time", "Journey to Babel", "Shore Leave", "The Trouble with Tribbles", "The Enemy Within", "The Corbomite Maneuver", "This Side of Paradise", and "A Piece of the Action". Early work was promising and by the fall of 1976 the project was building momentum. Fans organized a mail campaign that flooded the White House with 400,000 letters, influencing Gerald Ford to rechristen the space shuttle Constitution to Enterprise. Bryan and Scott's proposal became the first accepted by the studio in October; Roddenberry immediately stopped work on other projects to refocus on Star Trek, and the screenwriters and Isenberg were swamped with grateful fan mail. The elation was short-lived; the first draft of the completed script was not finished until March 1, 1977, and pressure was mounting for Paramount to either begin production or cut its losses and cancel the project. Isenberg began scouting filming locations and hired designers and illustrators to complement the script. Dissatisfied with having everyone take a turn at rewriting the script, Bryant and Scott quit in April 1977. Kaufman reconceived the story with Spock as the captain of his own ship and featuring Toshirō Mifune as Spock's Klingon nemesis, but Katzenberg informed the director in May that the film was canceled.
Phase II and restart
Barry Diller had grown concerned by the direction Star Trek had taken in Planet of the Titans, and suggested to Roddenberry that it was time to take the franchise back to its roots as a television series. Diller planned on a new Star Trek series forming the cornerstone for a new television network. Though Paramount was loath to abandon its work on the film, Roddenberry wanted to bring many of the production staff from the original series to work on the new show, titled Star Trek: Phase II.
Producer Harold Livingston was assigned to find writers for new episodes, while Roddenberry prepared a writers' guide briefing the uninitiated on the franchise canon. To replace Spock, Roddenberry created a logical Vulcan prodigy named Xon. Since Xon was too young to fill the role of first officer, Roddenberry developed Commander William Decker, and later added Ilia. The new series' pilot episode "In Thy Image" was based on a two-page outline by Roddenberry about a NASA probe returning to Earth, having gained sentience. Alan Dean Foster wrote a treatment for the pilot, which Livingston turned into a screenplay. When the script was presented to Michael Eisner, he declared it worthy of being told as a feature film. At the same time, the success of Close Encounters of the Third Kind showed Paramount that Star Wars' success in the science fiction genre at the box office could repeat. On November 11, just two and a half weeks before production on Phase II was due to start, the studio announced that the television series had been canceled in favor of a new feature film. Cast and crew who had been hired that Monday were laid off by Friday, and construction came to a halt. Production was moved to April 1978 so that the necessary scripts, sets, and wardrobe could be upgraded.
On March 28, 1978, Paramount assembled the largest press conference held at the studio since Cecil B. DeMille announced he was making The Ten Commandments. Eisner announced that Academy-Award winning director Robert Wise would direct a film adaptation of the television series, titled Star Trek—The Motion Picture. The budget was projected at $15 million. Dennis Clark (Comes a Horseman) was invited to rewrite the script and to include Spock, but he disliked Roddenberry, who demanded sole credit. Livingston returned as writer, and although he also found Roddenberry unreasonable, Wise and Katzenberg convinced him to continue rewriting the script throughout production.
The writers began to adapt "In Thy Image" into a film script, but the script was not completed until four months after production commenced. Wise felt that the story seemed right, but the dramatic action and visuals could be upgraded and made more exciting. As the intended start of filming in late spring 1978 approached, it was clear a new start date was needed. Time was of the essence; Paramount was worried that their science fiction film would appear at the tail end of a cycle, now that every major studio had such a film in the works. Livingston described the writers' issue with the story, calling it "unworkable":
We had a marvelous antagonist, so omnipotent that for us to defeat it or even communicate with it, or have any kind of relationship with it, made the initial concept of the story false. Here's this gigantic machine that's a million years further advanced than we are. Now, how the hell can we possibly deal with this? On what level? As the story developed, everything worked until the very end. How do you resolve this thing? If humans can defeat this marvelous machine, Template:Sic it's really not so great, is it? Or if it really is great, will we like those humans who do defeat it? Should they defeat it? Who is the story's hero anyway? That was the problem. We experimented with all kinds of approaches...we didn't know what to do with the ending. We always ended up against a blank wall.
The script received constant input from the producers and from Shatner and Nimoy. The discussions led to incessant rewrites, right up to the day the pages were to be shot. At one point, scenes were rewritten so often on the same day so that it became necessary to note on script pages the hour of the revision. Though revisions were constant, the biggest push for change revolved around the ending. Much of the rewriting had to do with the relationships of Kirk and Spock, Decker and Ilia, and the Enterprise and VTemplate:'ger. A final draft of the third act was approved in late September 1978, but if it had not been for a Penthouse interview where NASA director Robert Jastrow said that mechanical forms of life were likely, the ending may not have been approved at all.
The first new sets (intended for Phase II) were constructed beginning July 25, 1977. The fabrication was supervised by Joseph Jennings, an art director involved in the original television series, special-effects expert Jim Rugg, and former Trek designer Matt Jefferies, on loan as consultant from Little House on the Prairie. When the television series was canceled and plans for a film put into place, new sets were needed for the large 70 mm film format. Template:Star Trek: The Motion Picture set costs Wise asked Harold Michelson to be the film's production designer, and Michelson was put to work on finishing the incomplete Phase II sets. The designer began with the bridge, which had nearly been completed. Michelson first removed Chekov's new weapons station, a semicircular plastic bubble grafted onto one side of the bridge wall. The idea for Phase II was that Chekov would have looked out toward space while crosshairs in the bubble tracked targets. Wise instead wanted Chekov's station to face the EnterpriseTemplate:'s main viewer, a difficult request as the set was primarily circular. Production illustrator Michael Minor created a new look for the station using a flat edge in the corner of the set.
The bridge ceiling was redesigned, with Michelson taking structural inspiration from a jet engine fan. Minor built a central bubble for the ceiling to give the bridge a human touch. Ostensibly, the bubble functioned as a piece of sophisticated equipment designed to inform the captain of the ship's attitude. Most of the bridge consoles, designed by Lee Cole, remained from the scrapped television series. Cole remained on the motion picture production and was responsible for much of the visual artwork created. To inform actors and series writers, Lee prepared a USS Enterprise Flight Manual as a continuity guide to control functions. It was necessary for all the main cast to be familiar with control sequences at their stations as each panel was activated by touch via heat-sensitive plates. The voltage of the light bulbs beneath the plastic console buttons were reduced from 25 watts to 6 watts after the generated heat began melting the controls. The seats were covered in girdle material, used because of its stretching capacity and ability to be easily dyed. For the science station, two consoles were rigged for hydraulic operation so that they could be rolled into the walls when not in use, but the system was disconnected when the crew discovered it would be easier to move them by hand.
Aside from control interfaces, the bridge set was populated with monitors looping animations. Each oval monitor was a rear-projection screen on which super 8 mm and 16 mm film sequences looped for each special effect. The production acquired 42 films for this purpose from an Arlington, Virginia-based company, STOMAR Enterprises. STOMAR's footage was exhausted only a few weeks into filming, and it became clear that new monitor films would be needed faster than an outside supplier could deliver them. Cole, Minor, and another production designer, Rick Sternbach, worked together with Povill to devise faster ways of shooting new footage. Cole and Povill rented an oscilloscope for a day and filmed its distortions. Other loops came from Long Beach Hospital, the University of California at San Diego, and experimental computer labs in New Mexico. In all, over two hundred pieces of monitor footage were created and catalogued into a seven-page listing.
The Enterprise engine room was redesigned while keeping consistent with the theory that the interior appearance had to match the corresponding area visible in exterior views of the starship. Michelson wanted the engine room to seem vast, a difficult effect to achieve on a small sound stage. To create the illusion of depth and long visible distances, the art department staff worked on designs that would utilize forced perspective; set designer Lewis Splittgerber considered the engine room the most difficult set to realize. On film the engine room appeared hundreds of feet long, but the set was actually only Template:Convert in length. To achieve the proper look, the floor slanted upward and narrowed, while very small actors of three, four, and five feet in height were used as extras to give the appearance of being far from the camera. For "down shots" of the engineering complex, floor paintings extended the length of the warp core several stories. J.C. Backings Company created these paintings; similar backings were used to extend the length of ship hallways and the rec room set.
Redesigning the Enterprise corridors was also Michelson's responsibility. Originally the corridors were of straight plywood construction reminiscent of the original series, which Roddenberry referred to as "Des Moines Holiday Inn Style". To move away from this hotel look, Michelson created a new bent and angular design. Roddenberry and Wise agreed with Michelson that in three hundred years, lighting did not need to be overhead, so they had the lighting radiate upward from the floor. Different lighting schemes were used to simulate different decks of the ship with the same length of corridor. Aluminum panels on the walls outside Kirk's and Ilia's quarters were covered with an orange ultrasuede to represent the living area of the ship.
The transporter had originally been developed for the television series as a matter of convenience; it would have been prohibitively expensive to show the Enterprise land on every new planet. For the redesign Michelson felt that the transporter should look and feel more powerful. He added a sealed control room that would protect operators from the powerful forces at work. The space between the transporter platform and the operators was filled with complex machinery, and cinematographer Richard Kline added eerie lighting to the set to create atmosphere.
After the redesign of the Enterprise sets was complete, Michelson turned his attention to creating the original sets needed for the film. The recreation deck occupied an entire soundstage, dwarfing the small room built for the planned television series; this was the largest interior in the film. The set was Template:Convert high, decorated with 107 pieces of custom-designed furniture, and packed with 300 people for filming. Below a large viewing screen on one end of the set was a series of art panels containing illustrations of previous ships bearing the name Enterprise. One of the ships was NASA's own Enterprise, added per Roddenberry's request:
Some fans have suggested that our new Enterprise should carry a plaque somewhere which commemorates the fact it was named after the first space shuttle launched from Earth in 1970s. This is an intriguing idea. It also has publicity advantages if properly released at the right time. It won't hurt NASA's feelings either. I'll leave it to you where you want it on the vessel.
Another large construction task was the VTemplate:'ger set, referred to by the production staff as "the Coliseum" or "the microwave wok". The set was designed and fabricated in four and a half weeks, and was filmable from all angles; parts of the set were designed to pull away for better camera access at the center. Throughout production Star Trek used eleven of Paramount's thirty-two sound stages, more than any other film done there at the time. To save money, construction coordinator Gene Kelley struck sets with his own crew immediately after filming, lest Paramount charge the production to have the sets dismantled. The final cost for constructing the sets ran at approximately $1.99 million, not counting additional costs for Phase II fabrication.
Props and models
Ralph McQuarrie and Ken Adam worked on the ship designs for Planet of the Titans. McQuarrie had to redesign the sets and models that were meant for the television series; the Enterprise, space dock, and orbital office were remade with greater details to look more impressive on the bigger movie screens. McQuarrie also redesigned the Enterprise with a flat hull, and though his models never appeared in the film they were later used for the Star Trek: The Next Generation episode "The Best of Both Worlds".
Art director Richard Taylor wanted to completely redesign the ship, abandoning Jeffries' television design, but Roddenberry insisted on the same shape. Instead, Taylor focused on the details, giving it a stylization he considered "almost art deco". Concept artist Andrew Probert helped with the redesign. Probert elaborated on Jenning's television movie model, making the EnterpriseTemplate:'s secondary hull wider, with angled struts supporting the nacelles (engine pylons) and an elaborate wiring system for the model's lights. In the television series, it had not been clear where the photon torpedoes were intended to have originated from, so Probert rectified this by designing multiple launcher designs at the base of the secondary hull for Taylor to choose from. Probert even added elements such as a separating saucer and landing pads that never made it to The Motion Picture or any other film featuring the model. While the hull surface was kept smooth, it was treated with a special paint finish that made its surface appear iridescent in certain lights. More windows were added than the previous design, and transparent images of the sets were inserted behind the windows so that when the camera approached the model it appeared that viewers could see something inside. As a joke, these images featured Probert, other production staff members, and Mickey Mouse.
Most of the models in The Motion Picture were created by Magicam, a Paramount subsidiary. The main Enterprise model was eight feet long, to a scale of Template:Convert to Template:Convert. It took 14 months and $150,000 to build. Instead of standard fiberglass used for older models, the new Enterprise was constructed with lightweight plastics, weighing Template:Convert. The biggest design issue was making sure that the connective neck and engine struts were strong enough so that no part of the ship model would sag, bend, or quiver when the model was being moved. The completed model could be supported at one of five possible points as each photographic angle required. A second, 20-inch (50.8 cm) model of the ship was used for long shots. Magicam also produced the orbital dry dock seen during the EnterpriseTemplate:'s first appearance in the film. Measuring 4 ft x 10 ft x 6 ft (1.22 m x 3.05 m x 1.83 m), its 56 neon panels required 168,000 volts of electricity to operate, with a separate table to support the transformers; the final price for the dock setup was $200,000.
The creation of V'ger caused the entire production problems. The crew was dissatisfied with the original four-foot clay model, which looked like a modernized Nemo's Nautilus submarine. Industrial designer Syd Mead was hired to visualize a new version of the mammoth craft. Mead created a machine that contained organic elements based on input from Wise, Roddenberry, and the effects leads. The final model was Template:Convert long, built from the rear forward so that the camera crews could shoot footage while the next sections were still being fabricated. The model was built out of a plethora of materials—wood, foam, macramé, styrofoam cups, incandescent, neon and strobe lights.
Dick Rubin handled the film's props, and set up a makeshift office in the corner of stage 9 throughout production. Rubin's philosophy as property master was that nearly every actor or extra ought to have something in their hands. As such, Rubin devised and fabricated approximately 350 props for the film, 55 of which were used in the San Francisco tram scene alone. Many of the props were updated designs of items previously seen in the television series, such as phasers and handheld communicators. The only prop that remained from the original television series was Uhura's wireless earpiece, which Nichols specifically requested on the first day of shooting (and all the production crew save those who had worked on the television show had forgotten about.) The new phaser was entirely self-contained, with its own circuitry, batteries, and four blinking lights. The prop came with a hefty $4000 price tag; to save money, the lights were dropped, reducing the size of the phaser by a third. A total of 15 of the devices were made for the film. The communicators were radically altered, as by the 1970s the microminiaturization of electronics convinced Roddenberry that the bulky handheld devices of the television series were no longer feasible. A wrist-based design was decided upon, with the provision that it look far different than the watch Dick Tracy had been using for decades previous. Two hundred communicators were fashioned, but only a few were the $3500 top models, used for close-ups of the device in action. Most of the props were made from plastic, as Rubin thought that in the future manmade materials would be used almost exclusively. Template:-
Costumes and makeup
Roddenberry firmly believed that throwaway clothes were the future of the industry, and this idea was incorporated into the costumes of The Motion Picture. William Ware Theiss, the designer who created the original television series costumes, was too busy to work on the film. Instead Robert Fletcher, considered one of American theater's most successful costume and scenic designers, was selected to design the new uniforms, suits, and robes for the production. Fletcher eschewed manmade synthetics for natural materials, finding that these fabrics sewed better and lasted longer. As times had changed, the Starfleet uniforms, with their bright reds, blues, greens, and golds, had to be revised: the miniskirts worn by females on the show seemed exciting in the 1960s but would now be considered sexist. Wise deemed the original multicolored uniforms too garish, and Fletcher believed that the brightness of these old designs would work against believability when seen on the wide screen—the designer's first task was to create new, less conspicuous uniforms.
In the original series, divisions in ship assignments were denoted by shirt color; for the movie, these color codes were moved to small patches on each person's uniform. The Starfleet delta symbol, which previously indicated duty branches—command, science, medical, engineering, and so forth—was replaced with the command symbol for all branches, superimposed over a circle of color indicating area of service. The blue color of previous uniforms was discarded, for fear they might interfere with the blue screens used for optical effects. Three types of uniforms were fabricated: dress uniforms used for special occasions, Class A uniforms for regular duty, and Class B uniforms as an alternative. The Class A designs were double-stitched in gabardine and featured gold braid designating rank. It was felt that the traditional four gold sleeve stripes for the captain's rank was too blatantly militaristic. Povill had to send out a memo to Fletcher with the modified stripe rank system, as the designer continued to get the 20th and 23rd centuries confused. Fletcher designed the Class B uniform as similar to evolved t-shirts, with shoulder boards used to indicate rank and service divisions. Each costume had the shoes built into the pant leg to further the futuristic look. An Italian shoemaker decorated by the Italian government for making Gucci shoes was tasked with creating the futuristic footwear. Combining the shoes and trousers was difficult, time-consuming, and expensive, as each shoe had to be sewn by hand after being fitted to each principal actor. There were difficulties in communication, as the shoemaker spoke limited English and occasionally confused shoe orders due to similar-sounding names. Jumpsuits, serving a more utilitarian function, were the only costumes to have pockets, and were made with a heavyweight spandex that required a special needle to puncture the thick material. A variety of field jackets, leisure wear, and spacesuits were also created; as these parts had to be designed and completed before most of the actors' parts had been cast, many roles were filled by considering how well the actors would fit into existing costumes.
For the civilians of San Francisco, Fletcher decided on a greater freedom in dress. Much of the materials for these casual clothes were found in the old storerooms at Paramount, where a large amount of unused or forgotten silks, crepes, and leathers lay in storage. One bolt of material had been handpicked by Cecil DeMille in 1939, and was in perfect condition. The red, black, and gold brocade was woven with real gold and silver wrapped around silk thread; the resulting costume was used for a Betelgeusean ambassador and, at a price of $10,000 for the fabric alone, was the most expensive costume ever worn by a Hollywood extra. Fletcher also recycled suedes from The Ten Commandments for the Zaranite costumes. With the approval of Roddenberry, Fletcher fashioned complete backgrounds for the alien races seen in the Earth and recreation deck sequences, describing their appearances and the composition of their costumes.
Fred Phillips, the original designer of Spock's Vulcan ears, served as The Motion PictureTemplate:'s makeup artist. He and his staff were responsible for fifty masks and makeup for the aliens seen in the film. The designs were developed by Phillips himself or else off Fletcher's sketches. In his long association with Star Trek Phillips produced his 2000th Spock ear during production of The Motion Picture. Each ear was made of latex and other ingredients blended together in a kitchen mixer, then baked for six hours. Though Phillips had saved the original television series casts used for making the appliances, Nimoy's ears had grown in the decade since and new molds had to be fabricated. While on the small screen the ears could be used up to four times, since nicks and tears did not show up on television, Phillips had to create around three pairs a day for Nimoy during filming. The upswept Vulcan eyebrows needed to be applied hair by hair for proper detail, and it took Nimoy more than two hours to prepare for filming—twice as long as it had for television.
Besides developing Vulcan ears and alien masks, Phillips and his assistant Charles Schram applied more routine makeup to the principal actors. Khambatta's head had to be freshly shaved each day, then given an application of makeup to reduce glare from the hot set lights. Khambatta had no qualms about shaving her head at first, but began worrying if her hair would grow back properly. Roddenberry proposed insuring Khambatta's hair after the actress voiced her concerns, believing the price of such insurance to be negligible. Roddenberry also saw other benefits to taking out a policy:
...Second, [the insurance] would have the advantage of reassuring [Khambatta] and making her feel more comfortable during her role. Third and finally, if the price does turn out to be negligible, John Rothwell, our publicist, assures me that we would probably get many times the cost back in publicity about the insurance.
The idea was ultimately scrapped, as it turned out such a guarantee would be highly expensive; the insurance company believed that there would be difficulty in proving that the hair grew back exactly the same as before. Instead, Khambatta visited the Georgette Klinger Skin Care Salon in Beverley Hills, where experts recommended that she receive six facials and scalp treatments during the course of production. The salon also prescribed a daily scalp treatment routine of cleansing bars, brilliantine lotion, conditioner, makeup remover, and cleansing lotion. The studio agreed these measures were necessary and footed the bill while Khambatta spent six months following the tedious instructions (her hair eventually regrew without issue, though she kept her shaven locks after production had ended.)
In the decade between the end of the Star Trek television series and the film, many of the futuristic technologies that appeared on the show—electronic doors that open automatically, hypodermic injections, talking computers, weapons that stun rather than kill, and personal communication devices—had become a reality. Roddenberry had insisted that the technology aboard the Enterprise be grounded in established science and scientific theories. The Motion Picture likewise received technical consultation from NASA, the Jet Propulsion Laboratory at California Institute of Technology, and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, as well as individuals such as a former astronaut and the science fiction writer Isaac Asimov.
The greatest amount of technical advice for the production came from the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), who provided Trek fan Jesco von Puttkamer as advisor to the film. Roddenberry had known Puttkamer since 1975, when they had been introduced by a mutual friend, the Assistant Director of Astronautics at the Smithsonian Institution. From 1976 until the completion of the film Puttkamer provided the writers, producer, and director with memos on everything technical in the script; the scientist reviewed every line in the script, and was unpaid for his assistance. "Science fiction films, including those of the recent past, have been woefully short of good science advice," he said. "Star Wars [is] really not science fiction. I loved it, but it's a fairy tale of princes and knights in another galaxy. The technology was improbable, the science impossible."
During the rewrite of the final scenes, the studio executives clashed with Roddenberry about the script's ending, believing that the concept of a living machine was too far-fetched. The executives consulted Asimov: if the writer decided a sentient machine was plausible, the ending could stay. Asimov loved the ending, but made one small suggestion; he felt that the use of the word "wormhole" was incorrect, and that the anomaly that the Enterprise found itself in would be more accurately called a "temporal tunnel".
Filming of The Motion PictureTemplate:'s first scene began on August 7, 1978. A few ad-libbed ceremonies were performed before the cameras rolled; Roddenberry gave Wise his baseball cap, emblazoned with "Enterprise" in gold lettering (the cap was a gift from the captain of the nuclear carrier Enterprise.) Wise and Roddenberry then cracked a special breakaway bottle of champagne on the bridge set (there was no liquid inside, as flying champagne would have damaged the readied set.) The scene planned was the chaotic mess aboard the Enterprise bridge as the crew readies the ship for space travel; Wise directed 15 takes into the late afternoon before he was content with the scene. The first day's shots used Template:Convert of film; Template:Convert were considered "good", Template:Convert were judged "no good", and Template:Convert were wasted; only one and one-eighth pages had been shot.
Alex Weldon was hired to be supervisor of special effects for the film.Template:Ref label Weldon was planning on retiring after 42 years of effects work, but his wife urged him to take on Star Trek because she thought he did not have enough to do. When Weldon was hired, many of the effects had already been started or completed by Rugg; it was up to Weldon to complete more complex and higher-budgeted effects for the motion picture. The first step of preparation involved analyzing the script in terms of the number, duration, and type of effects. Before costs could be determined and Weldon could shop for necessary items, he and the other members of the special effects team worked out all possibilities for pulling off the effects in a convincing manner.
Richard H. Kline served as the film's cinematographer. Working from sketch artist Maurice Zuberano's concepts, Wise would judge if they were on the right track. Kline and Michelson would then discuss the look they wanted (along with Weldon, if effects were involved.) Each sequence was then storyboarded and left to Kline to execute. The cinematographer called his function to "interpret [the] preplanning and make it indelible on film. It's a way of everybody being on the same wavelength." Kline would recall that there was not a single "easy" shot to produce for the picture, as each scene required special consideration. The bridge, for example, was lit with a low density of light to make the console monitors display better. It was hard to frame shots so that reflections of the crew in monitors or light spilling through floor grilles were not seen in the final print.
While Kline was concerned with lighting, print quality, and color, Bonnie Prendergast, the script supervisor, took notes that would be written up after the company had finished for the day. Prendergast's role was to ensure continuity in wardrobe, actor position, and prop placement. Any changes in dialogue or ad-libbed lines were similarly written down. Assistant director Danny McCauley was responsible for collaborating with unit production manager Phil Rawlins to finalize shooting orders and assigning extras. Rawlins, McCauley, production manager Lindsley Parson Jr., and Katzenberg were all tasked with keeping things moving as fast as possible and keeping the budget under control; every hour on stage cost the production $4000.
The production was for most of the filming a closed set, with great measures taken to maintain the secrecy of the plot. Scripts were numbered and lists kept of who received each copy. The press was told nothing about the story and only a few production stills were allowed to be published. During construction one young visitor to a soundstage stole a copy of blueprints for the bridge set and sold duplicates of them to any fans who would pay him $75; Paramount reported the matter to the FBI, who turned the case over to the Los Angeles Police Department. The police arrested, convicted, and fined the culprit $750; it was later discovered that the stolen plans were in fact not the final copies. Visitor's badges were created to keep track of guests, and due to the limited number were constantly checked out; among the visitors included friends of the cast and crew, the press, fan leaders, and actors such as Clint Eastwood, Tony Curtis, Robin Williams and Mel Brooks. Security swept cars leaving the lots for stolen items; even the principal actors were not spared from this inconvenience.
By August 9, the production was already a full day behind schedule. Despite the delays, Wise refused to shoot more than 12 hours on set, feeling he lost his edge afterwards. The director was very patient on set; bets were placed on when he would finally lose his temper, but pool organizers returned the money when Wise never lost his cool. While the bridge scenes were shot early, trouble with filming the transporter room scene delayed further work. Crew working on the transporter platform found their footwear melting on the lighted grid while shooting tests. Issues with the wormhole sequences caused further delays. The footage for the scene was filmed two ways; first, at the standard 24 frames per second, and then at the faster 48 frames; the normal footage was a back-up if the slow-motion effect produced by the faster frame speed did not turned out as planned. The shoot dragged on so long that it became a running joke for cast members to try and top each other with wormhole-related puns. The scene was finally completed on August 24, while the transporter scenes were being filmed at the same time on the same soundstage.
The planet Vulcan setting was created using a mixture of on-location photography at Minerva Hot Springs in Yellowstone National Park and set recreation. Yellowstone was selected after filming in Turkish ruins proved to be too expensive. Securing permission for filming the scenes was difficult in the middle of the summer tourist season, but the Parks Department acquiesced so long as the crew remained on the boardwalks to prevent damage to geological formations. Zuberano, who had helped select the site for the shoot, traveled to Yellowstone and returned with a number of photos. Minor also made a trip and returned to create a large painting depicting how the scene might look. In consultations with Michelson, the crew decided to use miniatures in the foreground to create the Vulcan temples, combined with the real hot springs in the background. In the film, the bottom third of the frames were composed of miniature stairs, rocks, bits of red glass and a Vulcan statue. The center of the frame contained Nimoy's shots and the park setting, while the final third of the frame was filled with a matte painting. On August 8, the day after production began at Paramount, an eleven-person second unit left for Yellowstone. The sequence took three days to shoot.
On returning to Paramount, the art department had to recreate parts of Yellowstone in a large "B tank", Template:Convert long. The tank was designed to be flooded with millions of gallons of water to represent large bodies of water. Minor set up miniatures on the tank's floor before construction and made sure that the shadows that fell on Spock at Yellowstone could be properly recreated. A plywood base was built on metal platforms to create stone silhouettes, reinforced with chicken wire. Polyurethane foam was sprayed over the framework under the supervision of the Los Angeles Fire Department. The bottom part of the statue miniature was represented by a Template:Convert high fiberglass foot. Weldon matched the effects filmed at Yellowstone using dry ice and steam machines. To recreate the appearance of the swirling eddies of water in the real Yellowstone, a combination of evaporated milk, white poster paint, and water was poured into the set's pools. The pressure of the steam channeled into the pools through hidden tubing causes enough movement in the whirlpools to duplicate the location footage. Due to the requirement that the sun be in a specific location for filming and that the environment be bright enough, production fell behind schedule when it was unseasonably cloudy for three days straight. Any further scenes to recreate Vulcan would be impossible, as the set was immediately torn down to serve as a parking lot for the remainder of the summer.
The computer console explosion that causes the transporter malfunction was simulated using brillo pads. Weldon hid steel wool inside the console and attached an arc welder to operate by remote control when the actor pulled a wire. The welder was designed to create a spark instead of actually welding, causing the steel wool to burn and make sparks; so effective was the setup that the cast members were continually startled by the flare-ups, resulting in additional takes. Various canisters and cargo containers appear to be suspended by antigravity throughout the film. These effects were executed by several of Weldon's assistants. The crew built a circular track that had the same shape as the corridor and suspended the antigravity prop on four very small wires that connected to the track. The wires were treated with a special acid which oxidized the metal; the reaction tarnished the wires to a dull gray that would not show up in the deep blue corridor lighting. Cargo boxes were made out of light balsa wood so that very fine wires could be used as support.
Template:Quote box As August ended, production continued to slip farther behind schedule. Koenig learned that rather than being released in 14 days after his scenes were completed, his last day would be on October 26—eight weeks later than expected. The next bridge scenes to be filmed after the wormhole sequence, EnterpriseTemplate:'s approach to V'ger and the machine's resulting attack, were postponed for two weeks so that the special effects for the scene could be planned and implemented, and the engine room scenes could be shot. Chekov's burns sustained in V'ger's attack were difficult to film; though the incident took only minutes on film, Weldon spent hours preparing the effect. A piece of aluminum foil was placed around Koenig's arm, covered by a protective pad and then hidden by the uniform sleeve. Weldon prepared an ammonia and acetic acid solution that was touched to Koenig's sleeve, causing it to smoke. Difficulties resulted in the scene being shot ten times; it was especially uncomfortable for the actor, whose arm was slightly burned when some of the solution leaked through to his arm.
Khambatta also faced difficulties during filming. The actress' conservative Indian upbringing meant she would not appear nude as called for in the script during the Ilia probe's appearance. The producers got her to agree to wear a thin skin-colored body stocking, but she caught a cold as a result of the shower mist, created by dropping dry ice into warm water and funneling the vapors into the shower by a hidden tube. Khambatta had to leave the location repeatedly to avoid hypercapnia. One scene required the Ilia probe to slice through a steel door in the sickbay; doors made out of paper, corrugated cardboard covered in aluminum foil, and cork were tested before the proper effect was reached. The illuminated button in the hollow of the probe's throat was a 12–volt light bulb that Khambatta could turn on and off via hidden wires; the bulb's heat eventually caused a slight burn.
The last week of production was fraught with issues. Red gel lights appeared orange upon reviewing the daily footage; the lights were faulty, and three people were nearly electrocuted. On January 26, 1979, the film finally wrapped after 125 days. The three leads (Shatner, Nimoy, and Kelley) delivered their final lines at 4:50 pm. Before the crew could go home, a final shot had to be filmed—the climactic fusing of Decker and V'ger. The script prescribed a heavy emphasis on lighting, with spiraling and blinding white lights. Collins was covered in tiny dabs of cotton glued to his jacket; these highlights were designed to create a body halo. Helicopter lights, 4000–watt lamps and wind machines were used to create the effect of Decker's fusion with the living machine. The first attempts at filming the scene became a nightmare for the crew. The extreme lighting caused normally invisible dust particles in the air to be illuminated, creating the appearance that the actors were caught in a blizzard. During the retakes throughout the week the crew mopped and dusted the set constantly, and it required later technical work to completely eliminate the dust in the final print.
Two weeks later, the entire cast and crew joined with studio executives for a traditional wrap party.Template:Ref label Four hundred people attended the gathering, which spilled over into two restaurants in Beverly Hills. While much of the crew readied for post-production, Wise and Roddenberry were grateful for the opportunity to take a short vacation from the motion picture before returning to work.
While the cast departed to work on other projects, the post-production team was tasked with finalizing the film in time for a Christmas release; the resulting work would take twice as long as the filming process had taken. Editor Todd Ramsay and his assistants had spent their time during shooting syncing film and audio tracks and creating rough cuts of the sequences while discussing plans for the sound effects, music, and optical effects that would be added later.
While Wise made sure his directing choices were reflected on screen, Roddenberry also provided a large amount of input. On April 19 he sent off an eleven page memo to Ramsay via Wise where he proposed several ideas for editing, including dubbing the Vulcan ceremony into a Vulcan language, feeling that fans would consider it a "cheat" to have the Klingons speak in their language while having the Vulcans perform in "King James-type English". He also suggested cuts to the interactions and dialogue of the supporting characters. Ramsay tried to cut as much footage and unnecessary moments as long as the cuts did not jeopardize character and story development or short-change the visual sweep of the film. Because the original Vulcan scenes had been photographed with actors speaking English, the "language" needed to lip-sync with the actor's lines.
After the groundbreaking opticals of Star Wars, the producers of "In Thy Image" had been keenly aware that the television movie could not settle for outdated effects. The first choice for director of special effects was Douglas Trumbull, a film director who had worked on 2001: A Space Odyssey. Trumbull declined the offer. At the time he was approached, Trumbull was busy on Close Encounters, and was tired of being ignored as a director and having to churn out special effects for someone else's production; after completing his effects work, he planned on launching his own feature using a new film process. The next choice, John Dykstra, was similarly wrapped up in other projects. Post-production supervisor Paul Rabwin suggested Robert Abel's production company Robert Abel and Associates might be up to the task. The scope and size of the effects grew after the television movie became The Motion Picture. Abel and Associates bid $4 million for doing the film's effects and Paramount accepted. By May 1978 Abel revised their bid $750,000 upwards as new effects were added, and Roddenberry began to suggest that the effects costs and schedules be reexamined.
Slowly, persistent rumors began to crop up about difficulties regarding the special effects. By a year into the production, millions of dollars had been spent, yet almost no usable footage had been created; Abel and Associates was not experienced in motion picture production and the steep learning curve worried the producers. Due to contract obligations, Trumbull served as a consultant to Abel and Associates, while effects artist Richard Yuricich acted as a liaison between Abel and Paramount. To speed up the work, Abel passed off miniature and matte painting tasks to Yuricich. Despite being relieved of nearly half the effects work, it became clear by early 1979 that Abel and Associates would not be able to complete the remainder on time. Creative differences grew between Abel and Associates and the Paramount production team, and by mid-February 1979 the two companies agreed their differences were irreconcilable.
Trumbull, meanwhile, had completed Close Encounters, but his plan for a full feature had been turned down by Paramount—a move some considered punishment for passing on Star Trek. With Trumbull now available, primary responsibility for The Motion PictureTemplate:'s optical effects passed on to him. The studio wasted $5 million and a year's worth of time with the change. In March the studio offered Trumbull virtual carte blanche if he could get the opticals work completed by December, the release date to which Paramount was financially committed (having accepted advances from exhibitors planning on a Christmas delivery). Trumbull was confident that he could get the work done without a loss of quality, and together with Yuricich the effects team rushed to finish. The effects budget climbed to $10 million.
Yuricich's previous work had been as Director of Photography for Photographic Effects on Close Encounters, and he and Trumbull formulated a plan which involved reassembling the equipment and recruiting the crew from Close Encounters, modifying existing equipment and factories for the new opticals and adding more stage space, cameras, and personnel. Time, not money, was the main issue; Trumbull had to deliver in nine months twice the effects as found in Star Wars or Close Encounters, which had taken years to complete. The Glencoe-based facilities the teams had used for Close Encounters were deemed insufficient, and a nearby facility was rented and outfitted with five more stages equipped with camera tracks and systems. Dykstra and his production house Apogee Company were subcontracted to Trumbull. Employing 60 people, Dykstra still found the work time-consuming, as Paramount's directives including creating effects that had not been seen before, completing them on time and keeping the price down. In addition to detailing and shipping models to Trumbull, Apogee was responsible for several standalone effects.
Trumbull and Dykstra found the Magicam models problematic. The Klingon cruiser's lighting was so dim that using longer exposures and changing the f-stops was not sufficient to make them bright enough. Trumbull felt that the EnterpriseTemplate:'s lights were not adequate for his needs, and had the model completely rewired. He questioned that the Enterprise could be traveling years from any source of light and yet still be fully illuminated. Instead of having the ship completely dark save for viewports, Trumbull came up with a system of self-illumination; he pictured the ship as something like an oceanliner, "a grand lady of the seas at night". A similar method was used on the Klingon cruiser model, but he made it less well-lit to convey a different look than the clean visuals of the Federation—the cruiser was meant to evoke "an enemy submarine in World War II that's been out at sea for too long". The models were filmed in multiple passes and composited together in post-production; at least one pass had enough fill light so that the entire model could be seen. Multiple passes with only the model's lighting running were burned in on top of the original pass to complete the look.
The Klingon cruiser sequence was deliberately developed to avoid an opening similar to Star Wars. One model was used for all three cruisers seen on film. While Dykstra's team handled the ships, the V'ger cloud was developed by Trumbull. Trumbull wanted the cloud to have a specific shape to it—"it couldn't just be a blob of cotton," he said, "it had to have some shape that you could get camera angles on." A special camera support track was built that could pan and focus over a Template:Convert piece of art, with the light strobed to provide depth. While the team planned on compositing multiple passes to provide physical movement to the cloud shots, Trumbull felt that it detracted from the sense of scale, and so small animations were subtly introduced in the final product. The torpedo effects were simulated by shooting a laser through a piece of crystal mounted on a rotating rod after experiments with Tesla coils proved insufficient. The same effect was recolored and used for the Klingons and the Enterprise; the aliens' torpedoes glowed red while the "good guys" had blue-colored weaponry. V'ger's destruction of the ships was created using scanning lasers, with the multiple laser passes composited onto the moving model to create the final effect.
The scenes of Kirk and Scott approaching the Enterprise in drydock spanned two pages of script but took forty-five different shots (averaging one shot a day) for the travel pod containing Kirk to make its flight from the space office complex to the docking ring. Double shifts around the clock were required to finish the effect on time. For close shots of the pod traveling to the Enterprise, close-ups of Shatner and Doohan were composited into the model, while in long shots lookalike puppets were used.
Dykstra and Apogee created three models to stand in for the Epsilon 9 station. A Template:Convert model was used for distance shots, while an isolated Template:Convert panel was used for closer shots. The station control tower was replicated with rear-projection screens to add the people inside. A 2 ft model spaceman was created for the shot, which ended up being used in the drydock sequence and Spock's spacewalk. While the destruction of the station was filmed in a similar manner to the Klingon cruisers, some unique effects had to be discarded due to time constraints. V'ger itself was filmed in a hazy, smoky room, in part to convey depth and also to hide the parts of the ship still under construction. The multiple passes were largely based on guesswork, as every single available camera was in use and the effects had to be generated without the aid of a bluescreen.
Even after the change in effects companies, Yuricich continued to provide many of the matte paintings used in the film, having previously worked on The Day the Earth Stood Still, Ben Hur, North by Northwest and LoganTemplate:'s Run. The paintings were combined with live action after a selected area of the frame was matted out. For example, the blue Earth sky over Yellowstone was replaced with the specially-created painting of a red-hued Vulcan landscape. More than 100 such paintings were used.
Despite being hired after the completion of nearly all the principal photography, Trumbull had an enormous amount of creative input on the film. The Spock spacewalk sequence, for example, was radically changed from the Abel version. The original plan was for Kirk to follow Spock in a spacesuit and come under attack from a mass of sensor-type organisms. Spock would save his friend, and the two would proceed through V'ger. Wise, Kline, and Abel had been unable to agree on how to photograph the sequence, and the result was a poorly-designed and ungainly effect that Trumbull was convinced was disruptive to the plot and would have cost millions to fix. Instead, he recommended a stripped-down sequence that omitted Kirk entirely and would be simple and easy to shoot; Robert McCall, known for designing the original posters to 2001: A Space Odyssey, provided Trumbull with concept art to inform the new event.
The score for Star Trek: The Motion Picture was written by Jerry Goldsmith, who would later compose the scores Star Trek V: The Final Frontier, Star Trek: First Contact, Star Trek: Insurrection, and Star Trek Nemesis, as well as the themes to the television series Star Trek: The Next Generation and Star Trek: Voyager. Gene Roddenberry had originally wanted Goldsmith to score Star Trek's pilot episode, "The Cage", but the composer was unavailable. When Wise signed on to direct, Paramount asked the director if he had any objection to using Goldsmith. Wise, who had worked with the composer for The Sand Pebbles, replied "Hell, no. He's great!" Wise would later consider his work with Goldsmith one of the best relationships he ever had with a composer.
Goldsmith was influenced by the style of the romantic, sweeping music of Star Wars. "When you stop and think about it, space is a very romantic thought. It is, to me, like the Old West, we’re up in the universe. It’s about discovery and new life [...] it’s really the basic premise of Star Trek," he said. Goldsmith's initial bombastic main theme reminded Ramsay and Wise of sailing ships. Unable to articulate what he felt was wrong with the piece, Wise recommended writing an entirely different piece. Although irked by the rejection, Goldsmith consented to re-work his initial ideas. The rewriting of the theme required changes to several sequences Goldsmith had scored without writing a main title piece. The approach of Kirk and Scott to the drydocked Enterprise by shuttle lasted a ponderous five minutes due to the effect shots coming in late and unedited, requiring Goldsmith to maintain interest with a revised and developed cue. Star Trek: The Motion Picture is the only Star Trek film to have a true overture, using "Ilia's Theme" in this role. Star Trek and The Black Hole would be the only feature films to use an overture from the end of 1979 until the year 2000 (with the movie Dancer in the Dark).
Much of the recording equipment used to create the movie's intricately complicated sound effects was, at the time, extremely cutting edge. Among these pieces of equipment was the ADS (Advanced Digital Synthesizer) 11, manufactured by Pasadena, California custom synthesizer manufacturer Con Brio, Inc. The movie provided major publicity and was used to advertise the synthesizer, though no price was given. The film's soundtrack also provided a debut for the Blaster Beam, an electronic instrument Template:Convert long. It was created by musician Craig Huxley, who played a small role in an episode of the original television series. The Blaster had steel wires connected to amplifiers fitted to the main piece of aluminum; the device was played with an artillery shell. Goldsmith heard it and immediately decided to use it for V'ger's cues. An enormous pipe organ first plays the V'ger theme on the EnterpriseTemplate:'s approach, a literal indication of the machine's power.
Goldsmith scored The Motion Picture over a period of three to four months, a relatively relaxed schedule compared to typical production, but time pressures resulted in Goldsmith bringing on colleagues to assist in the work. Alexander Courage, composer of the original Star Trek theme, provided arrangements to accompany Kirk's log entries, while Fred Steiner wrote the music to accompany the Enterprise achieving warp speed and first meeting V'ger. The rush to finish the rest of the film impacted the score. The final recording session finished at 2:00am on December 1, only five days before the film's release.
A soundtrack featuring the film's music was released in 1979 together with the film debut, and was one of Goldsmith's best-selling scores. Sony's Legacy Recordings released an expanded two-disc edition of the soundtrack on November 10, 1998. The album added an additional 21 minutes of music to supplement the original track list, and was resequenced to reflect the story line of the film. The first disc features the complete score, while the sequence disc contains "Inside Star Trek", a spoken word documentary.
Sound designer Frank Serafine, a longtime Star Trek fan, was invited to create the sound effects for the picture. Given access to state-of-the-art audio equipment, Serafine saw the picture as the chance to modernize outdated motion picture sound techniques with digital technology. Owing to background noise such as camera operation, much of the ambient noise or dialogue captured on set was unusable; it was Serafine's job to create or recreate sounds to mix back into the scenes.
As all the sound elements such as dubbed lines or background noise came together, they were classified into three divisions: A Effects, B Effects, and C Effects. A Effects were synthesized or acoustic sounds that were important and integral to the picture—the sound of V'ger's weapon, for example, or Spock's mind meld, as well as transporters, explosions, and the warp speed sound effect. B Effects consisted of minor sounds such as the clicks of switches, beeps, or chimes. C Effects were subliminal sounds that set moods—crowd chatter and ambient noise. All the elements were mixed as "predubs" to speed integration into the final sound mix.
When The Motion Picture was announced, many synthesizer artists submitted demo tapes to Paramount. Ramsay and Wise consulted and decided that the film should have a unique audio style; they were particularly concerned with avoiding sounds that had become pervasive and clichéd due to repetitious use in other science fiction movies. Events such as Enterprise bridge viewscreen activation were kept silent to provide a more comfortable atmosphere. In contrast, almost every action on the Klingon bridge made noise to reflect the aliens' harsh aesthetic. While much of the effects were created using digital synthesizers, non-acoustic recordings were used as well. The wormhole's sucking sounds were created by slowing down and reversing old Paramount stock footage of a cowboy fight, while the warp acceleration "stretch" sound was built on a slowed-down cymbal crash. The crew encountered difficulty in transferring the Template:Convert tapes used for creating the sounds to the 35 mm film used for the final prints; while the film was to be released with Dolby sound, Serafine found it was easier to mix the sounds without regard to format and add the specific format after, during the later transfer to 35 mm.
According to author Duncan Barrett, Roddenberry had a decidedly negative view of religion that was reflected in the Star Trek television series episodes; in the episode "Who Mourns for Adonais?", for example, the god Apollo is revealed to be a fraud, an alien rather than a divine being from earth's past. In comparison religious scholar Ross Kraemer says that Roddenberry "pulled his punches" regarding religion and in the television show religion was not absent but highly private. Barrett suggests that with the Star Trek feature films this attitude of not addressing religious issues shifted.
In the television series little time was spent pondering the fate of the dead. In The Motion Picture, meanwhile, Decker is apparently killed in merging with V'ger, but Kirk wonders if they have seen the creation of a new life form. Decker and Ilia are listed as "missing in action" rather than deceased, and the lighting and effects created as a result of the merge have been described as "quasimystical" and "pseudo-religious". The discussion of a new birth is framed in a reverential way. While V'ger is a machine of near omnipotence, according to Robert Asa the film (along with its successor, Star Trek V: The Final Frontier) "implicitly protest[s] against classical theism".
To coincide with the film's release, Pocket Books published a novelization written by Roddenberry.Template:Ref label The only Star Trek novel Roddenberry wrote, the book adds back story and elements that did not appear in the movie; for example, the novelization consistently spells "V'Ger" as Vejur, until Kirk examines the Voyager 6 probe itself near the end of the story, the novelization also mentions that Willard Decker is the son of Commodore Matt Decker from the original series episode "The Doomsday Machine". This plot element was planned for the Phase II television series. In addition to the novel, Star Trek printed media included a coloring book, comic (published by Marvel), and ship blueprints. Toys included action figures, ship models, and a variety of watches, phaser mockups and communicators. McDonalds sold specially-designed Star Trek Happy Meals. The marketing was part of a coordinated approach by Paramount and its parent conglomerate Gulf+Western to create a sustained Star Trek product line. The Motion Picture novel started Pocket Books' Star Trek book franchise, which produced 18 consecutive bestsellers within a decade.
Owing to the rush to complete the film, The Motion Picture was never screened before test audiences, something Wise later regretted. The director carried the fresh print of the film to the world premiere, held at the K-B Mac Arthur Theater in Washington, D.C. Roddenberry, Wise, and the principal cast attended the function, which also served as an invitational benefit for the scholarship and youth education fund of the National Space Club. While thousands of fans were expected to attend, rain reduced fan turnout to around 300. The premiere was followed by a black-tie reception at the National Air and Space Museum. More than 500 people—consisting of the cast and crew, working members of the space community, and the few "hardcore Trekkies" who could afford the $100 admission price—filled the museum. The film was the first major Hollywood adaptation of a television series that had been off the air for nearly a decade to retain its original principal cast.
The Motion Picture opened in North America on December 7, 1979, in 859 theaters and set a box office record for highest weekend gross, making $11,815,203 in its first weekend (generally considered to be a slow time for the movie business). The film beat the record set by Superman (1978), which had opened in a similar number of theaters but had been released in late December—a busier time. The Motion Picture earned $17 million within a week. At its widest domestic distribution, the film was shown in 1,002 theaters; it grossed $82,258,456 in the United States. Overall, the film grossed $139 million worldwide. The Motion Picture was nominated for three Academy Awards: Best Art Direction (Harold Michelson, Joseph R. Jennings, Leon Harris, John Vallone and Linda DeScenna), Best Visual Effects, and Best Original Score.
In the United States, The Motion Picture sold the most tickets of any film in the franchise until 2009's Star Trek, but Paramount considered its gross disappointing compared to expectations and marketing. The film's budget had ballooned to $46 million, including costs incurred during Phase II production. The studio faulted Roddenberry's script rewrites and creative direction for the plodding pace and disappointing gross. While the performance of The Motion Picture convinced the studio to back a (cheaper) sequel, Roddenberry was forced out of its creative control. Harve Bennett and Nicholas Meyer would produce and direct Star Trek 2: The Wrath of Khan, which received better reviews and continued the franchise. With the successful revival of the Star Trek brand on the big screen setting an example, Hollywood increasingly turned to 1960s television series for material.
The Motion Picture met with disappointing reviews from critics; a 2001 retrospective for the BBC described the film as a critical failure. Gary Arnold and Judith Martin of The Washington Post felt that the plot was too thin to support the length of the film, although Martin felt that compared to similar films such as 2001: A Space Odyssey, Star Wars, and Alien, The Motion PictureTemplate:'s pretense was "slightly cleverer". TimeTemplate:'s Harold Livingston wrote that the film consisted of spaceships that "take an unconscionable amount of time to get anywhere, and nothing of dramatic or human interest happens along the way". Livingston also lamented the lack of "boldly characterized" antagonists and battle scenes that made Star Wars fun; instead, viewers were presented with lots of talk, "much of it in impenetrable spaceflight jargon". David Denby said that the slow movement of ships through space was "no longer surprising and elegant" after films such as 2001: A Space Odyssey, and that much of the action consisted of the crew's reacting to things occurring on the viewscreen, which the New York Magazine critic considered to be "like watching someone else watch television". Variety disagreed, calling the film "a search-and-destroy thriller that includes all of the ingredients the TV show's fans thrive on: the philosophical dilemma wrapped in a scenario of mind control, troubles with the space ship, the dependable and understanding Kirk, the ever-logical Spock, and suspenseful take with twist ending".
The characters and acting received a mixed reception. Stephen Godfrey of The Globe and Mail rated their performances highly: "time has cemented Leonard Nimoy's look of inscrutability as Mr. Spock [...] DeForest Kelley as Dr. McCoy is as feisty as ever, and James Doohan as Scotty still splutters about his engineering woes. At a basic level, their exchanges are those of an odd assortment of grumpy, middle-aged men bickering about office politics. They are a relief from the stars, and a delight." Godfrey's only concern was that the reunion of the old cast threatened to make casual viewers who had never seen Star Trek feel like uninvited guests. Martin considered the characters more likable than those in comparable science fiction films. Conversely, Arnold felt that the acting of the main cast (Shatner in particular) was poor; "Shatner portrays Kirk as such a supercilious old twit that one rather wishes he'd been left behind that desk", he wrote. "Shatner has perhaps the least impressive movie physique since Rod Steiger, and his acting style has begun to recall the worst of Richard Burton." Vincent Canby of The New York Times wrote that the actors did not have much to do in the effects-driven film, and were "limited to the exchanging of meaningful glances or staring intently at television monitors, usually in disbelief". Stephen Collins and Persis Khambatta were more favorably received. Gene Siskel felt the film "teeter[ed] towards being a crashing bore" whenever Khambatta was not on screen, and Jack Kroll of Newsweek felt that she had the most memorable entrance in the film. "[Khambatta] is sympathetic enough to make one hope she'll have a chance to show less skin and more hair in future films", Godfrey wrote.
Many critics felt that the special effects overshadowed other elements of the film. Canby stated that the film "owes more to [Trumbull, Dykstra and Michelson] than it does to the director, the writers or even the producer". Livingston felt that Trumbull and Dykstra's work on the film was not as impressive as on Star Wars and Close Encounters due to the limited amount of production time. Godfrey called the effects "stunning", but conceded that they threatened to overpower the story two-thirds of the way into the film. Kroll, Martin, and Arnold agreed that the effects were not able to carry the film or gloss over its other deficiencies; "I'm not sure that Trumbull & Co. have succeeded in pulling the philosophic chestnuts of Roddenberry and his co-writers out of the fire," Arnold wrote.
Later assessments of the film have echoed these criticisms. Rotten Tomatoes reported 54% of 28 selected critics gave the film a positive rating.James Berardinelli, reviewing the film in 1996, felt that the pace dragged and the plot bore too close a resemblance to the original series episode "The Changeling", but considered the start and end of the film to be strong. Terry Lee Rioux, Kelley's biographer, noted that the film proved "that it was the character-driven play that made all the difference in Star Trek". The slow pacing, extended reaction shots, and the film's lack of action scenes led fans and critics to give the film a variety of nicknames, including The Slow Motion Picture, The Motion Sickness, and Where Nomad [the probe in "The Changeling"] Has Gone Before.
In 1983, an extended cut of the film was released on videotape and premiered on the ABC television network. It added roughly 12 minutes to the film. The added footage was largely unfinished and cobbled together for the network premiere; Wise had never wanted the footage to be included in the final cut of the film.
Two members of Wise's production company, David C. Fein and Michael Matessino, approached Wise and Paramount and persuaded them to release a revised version of the film on video; Paramount released the updated Director's Edition of the film on VHS and DVD in 2001. Wise, who had considered the theatrical presentation of the film a "rough cut", was given the opportunity to re-edit the film to be more consistent with his original vision. The production team used the original script, surviving sequence storyboards, memos, and the director's recollections. In addition to cuts in some sequences, 90 new and redesigned computer-generated images were created. Care was taken that the effects meshed seamlessly with the old footage. The edition runs 136 minutes, about four minutes longer than the original release. Included among the special features are the deleted scenes which had been part of the television cut.
Aside from the effects, the soundtrack was remixed. Ambient noise such as the buzz of bridge controls were added to enhance certain scenes. Goldsmith had always suspected that some overly long cues could be shortened, so he made the cues repetitive. Although no new scenes were added, the MPAA rated the revised edition "PG" in contrast to the "G" rating of the original release. Fein attributed the rating change to the more "intense" sound mix that made scenes such as the central part of V'ger "more menacing".
The Director's Edition was better received by critics than the original theatrical release. The DVD Journal's Mark Bourne said that the Director's Edition showcased "a brisker, more attractive version of the movie" that was "as good as it might have been in 1979. Even better maybe." Complaints included the edition's 2.17:1 aspect ratio, as opposed to the original 2.35:1 Panavision. Jeremy Conrad of IGN felt that despite the changes, the pacing might still be too slow for some viewers.
The film's original theatrical cut was released on Blu-ray Disc in May 2009 to coincide with the new Star Trek feature, packaged with the five following features as the Star Trek: Original Motion Picture Collection. The Motion Picture was remastered in 1080p high-definition from the 2000 DVD transfer. The Director's Edition was not released in the high definition format in the new set as the visual effects were rendered at 480i standard definition. All six films in the set have 7.1 Dolby TrueHD audio. The disc features a new commentary track by Star Trek authors and contributors Michael and Denise Okuda, Judith and Garfield Reeves-Stevens, and Daren Dochterman.
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