Star Trek: The Motion Picture (1979), a recap (part 2 of 10)

NOTE: This article is a work in progress.
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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…

Mr. Nimoy’s wardrobe courtesy of Thundarr the Barbarian.

…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.

“Oh, THAT 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.

On Vulcan, all import ceremonies happen under Surak’s balls.

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.

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Multi-Part Article: Star Trek: The Motion Picture (1979), a recap

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  • Jerry Fritschle

    I enjoyed the comment about the Vulcan matte painting looking like concept art that made it into the movie. From what I understand, that is precisely what happened to produce the closing shot of “When Worlds Collide.” :-)

  • Kradeiz

    I can appreciate the work and artistry that goes into these effects but five minutes for a shuttle flight and docking scene does seem like too much.

  • David Chan

    Wow. This site really has turned into an snotty eliteist scam. Right down to BLACKMAILING regular viewers into PAYING to read an entire Article (or more insultingly, a single CHAPTER of said article) instead of just allowing everyone to read it for free like before. Along with practically everything else left in your archive. Are you really that hard-up that you have to resort to this chicanery just to get by/buy? What a sick joke. Shame on you.

    • Sorry you feel you’re being “blackmailed” into paying for an article, but the truth is I only started writing movie recaps again because I now have the ability to post content just for my loyal subscribers who support the site. This recap wouldn’t even exist if it was free to read, so Patreon or no Patreon, you still wouldn’t/won’t be reading it.

  • danbreunig

    I hate to say this, Doc Winston, but David’s got quite a point here. And even as a nearly life-long fan and supporter of the Agony Booth, I finally need to ask you: what’s happening to the site where you needed to start putting up paywalls?

    • Xander

      To be fair, the site owner–under any handle–has never tried to hide the fact that this site doesn’t make money. Part of the reason the message boards were shut down was because it was too big of a drain on finances. I understand the need to try to get this place to at least break even considering the time effort that goes into maintaining and updating the site that could be put into other, more profitable endeavors.

    • What’s happening is Patreon now has WordPress integration. Before that it just wasn’t feasible for me to figure out all the intricacies of accepting payments, creating subscriber accounts, etc. Now Patreon takes care of all that for me. I honestly would have done this years ago if the option had been available to me.