Wisdom of Star Trek: The Motion Picture

Star Trek: The Motion Picture is not exactly the most beloved film in the Star Trek franchise.  It’s slow-paced.  It feels kind of sterile.  The uniforms look just awful.  But I recently found out about the director’s cut, and I have to say it’s a huge improvement.

Granted, the movie still has its problems.  Among other things, those uniforms still look awful.  But at least I felt like I was watching Star Trek and not a bad rip-off of 2001: A Space Odyssey.  And the movie was thought-provoking in the way that Star Trek—and in fact all of science fiction—ought to be.

The movie’s antagonist is a vast, near-unknowable alien intelligence, an intelligence which has come in search of its Creator, and which is threatening to wipe out all life on Earth if the Creator’s identity is not revealed.  Speaking of this vast, alien intelligence, Mr. Spock explains:

It only knows that it needs, Commander.  But like so many of us, it does not know what.

If I may get a little personal for a moment, I’ve been feeling a bit discouraged lately.  Discouraged about what?  My writing journey?  My career?  My personal relationships?  Take your pick!  I just feel like something is missing.  I need something, and frustratingly I don’t even know what that something is.

But after watching the director’s cut of Star Trek: The Motion Picture, I’ve decided that’s okay.  That’s part of life.  We all go through this at some point or another.  This need for something—and the frustration of not even knowing what it is we need—is such a universal experience that even the most alien of alien intelligences may feel the same way sometimes.  I don’t know about you, but I find that to be a comforting thought.

P.S.: Well, it’s a comforting thought until some alien intelligence decides to take out its frustration on us Earthlings.

23 thoughts on “Wisdom of Star Trek: The Motion Picture

  1. When this hit the theaters, I was in high school. One day, in my philosophy class, we quickly agreed that we didn’t like this movie and then spent an hour discussing the issues it raised instead of whoever we’d read for homework. So I guess we did like it after all, and we didn’t even know about the director’s cut back then, which is a marked improvement.

    Liked by 2 people

      1. I didn’t realize there was a director’s cut. Without your post, I probably wouldn’t watch it. Other director’s cuts of other movies have convinced me editing is there for a reason – usually the director’s cut just carries on battle scenes even longer than in the final movie.

        I happen to have caught the final third of this movie on TV recently. Those uniforms! What were they thinking? But a common Star Trek trope is the nearly-omnipotent alien outwitted by humans or overwhelmed by our… humanness? The concept saved a lot of money on TOS because actors could simply throw themselves around the set while lights blinked to demonstrate the alien’s power. The movie spent more money. Nice FX, nice sets. But… powder blue? And what’s with the oval sorta tail? Reminds me of some B&W B scifi

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Apparently T.M.P. was rushed into theaters, so they just sort of slapped the video they had together and called it done. I felt like the director’s cut removed more than it added. The result is a much more polished movie.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. I’m one of the few people who enjoyed this movie, even in its original cut. It’s far more intelligent than most of the other movies.

    But I have to admit it could have used more action. In retrospect, if some of the Klingons had made it inside Vger, they could have added more traditional conflict to the story.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I do agree, it is more intelligent than most movies. I always felt like there was something meaningful there whenever I watched the theatrical version. The director’s cut just does a better job communicating that meaning to the audience. It’s like the difference between the first and second draft of an essay.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Well, now I need to figure out if the box vhs set I grew up watching and rewatching had the director’s cut version of that movie or just the theatrical release. I expect the latter, but who knows.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. The most brilliant part of this movie was have Voyager space probe to come back home in the end wanting to unite with it’s creators.

    In addition to the force from Star Wars, Star Trek series especially Star Trek: The Next Generations have always been my top of the list for space related entertainment.

    And some of the principles of the Starfleet, Captain Picard’s style of leadership have indirectly influenced my style of people management as well. When I stuck with an issue, I always ask myself – what would Jean-Luc would do in my situation?

    Here’s my comparison between 2 series – The Next Generations and The Voyager:-

    https://bjthoughts.com/2009/08/a-quick-guide-to-star-trek-part-1/

    https://bjthoughts.com/2009/08/a-quick-guide-to-star-trek-part-2/

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I often ask myself the same thing: what would Picard do? He sets such a great example, and I’m really looking forward to the new Star Trek: Picard series.

      And having V’Ger turn out to be one of the Voyager probes was a stroke of genius. That scene, with the big reveal, is just so satisfying!

      Like

      1. Totally agreed with you – it was a stroke of genius!!

        I don’t know which one was more shocking – Darth Vader telling Luke that he is his father in Star Wars or the alien called V’Ger who is threatening planet Earth is actually Voyager, the space probe. When this was revealed in the movie, almost everyone watching blurted out “What the F….?”

        Liked by 1 person

    2. By the way, I read your two Star Trek posts. For some reason I’m unable to like or comment on your website (I recently bought a new computer, so it’s probably a setting somewhere that I need to change).

      Anyway, I agree with most of your picks. I’m a big fan of B’Elanna Torres, though, so personally I’d give a point to Voyager in the chief engineer match-up.

      Like

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