Feb 6, 2020
Star Trek: The Motion Picture (1979), a recap (part 2 of 10)
Welcome back to my latest patron-only recap! The full recap is available to those who pledge just $1/month on the Agony Booth’s Patreon page.
Previously: An evil cloud penetrated Klingon space, and it was hello, new Klingons! And then… bye, new Klingons!
We abruptly cut from the evil cloud to Spock, with long rockstar hair, kneeling somewhere on the surface of Vulcan and praying. The Blaster Beam goes bwwaanngg and Spock stands and shields his eyes against the sun…
…and a reverse angle shows there’s no sun in the sky. In fact, the sky is not only pitch black, but there’s a small planetoid in the sky that looks suspiciously like a moon, even though Spock himself said in the original series episode “The Man Trap” that Vulcan has no moon.
Spock is kneeling outside a temple with huge statues outside, and there are lava pools everywhere and despite some added dry ice vapor in front of it, it couldn’t be more obvious that this is a matte painting. It’s like the concept art somehow ended up in the actual movie. (It shouldn’t come as a surprise that these shots were completely replaced with a more desert-like landscape in the director’s cut.) Three Vulcan priests are standing between the feet of one of the giant statues. Spock walks up to them and they speak to him in Vulcan-ese, with English subtitles.
Funny story; apparently this scene was filmed with the actors speaking English on the set. But when the filmmakers watched the footage back, it didn’t seem quite right, particularly coming on the heels of the first instance of actual Klingonese in the previous scene. So they overdubbed the dialogue to be in the “Vulcan language”, which is really just alien-sounding words created specifically to match their lip movements. They tweaked the wording of the subtitles so that it isn’t totally obvious (and the director’s cut tweaked the wording even more), but if you watch this scene on mute, you can see the actors are speaking English and reciting pretty much the same dialogue that’s in the subtitles.