I must not fear. Fear is the mind-killer. Fear is the little-death that brings total obliteration. I will face my fear. I will permit it to pass over me and through me. And when it has gone past I will turn the inner eye to see its path. Where the fear has gone there will be nothing. Only I will remain.
–Bene Gesserit Litany Against Fear, from Dune, by Frank Herbert; courtesy of Wikiquote.
A cultural inheritance may be acquired between dusk and dawn, and many have been so acquired. But the new “culture” was an inheritance of darkness, wherein “simpleton” meant the same thing as “citizen” meant the same thing as “slave.” The monks waited. It mattered not at all to them that the knowledge they saved was useless, that much of it was not really knowledge now… empty of content, its subject matter long since gone. Still, such knowledge had a symbolic structure that was peculiar to itself, and at least the symbol-interplay could be observed. To observe the way a knowledge-system is knit together is to learn at least a minimum knowledge-of-knowledge, until someday — someday, or some century — an Integrator would come, and things would be fitted together again. So time mattered not at all. The Memorabilia was there, and it was given to them by duty to preserve, and preserve it they would if the darkness in the world lasted ten more centuries, or even ten thousand years…
–Walter M. Miller, Jr., A Canticle for Leibowitz; courtesy of Wikiquote
Miller’s magnum opus, one of the masterpieces of 20th Century science fiction. I’ll be putting up a post on it in the near future.
In the most recent installment of my series on Star Trek: The Motion Picture, I referenced the series Space: 1999. I thought it appropriate to say a small bit about it before going on with the series on STTMP.
Gerry Anderson was a British television producer and director best known for his Supermarionation process of using puppets in dramatic television series, although he did work with live actors, as well. His works were primarily oriented towards science fiction. His best known works using puppets are Stingray (about a futuristic sub and its crew; this series was more children-oriented), Thuderbirds (about a futuristic family involved with an international rescue organization), and the slightly more adult Captain Scarlet (about war between Earth and evil invisible Martians, the Mysterons). Later, in the early 70’s, Anderson produced the live-action alien invasion series UFO. Perhaps his best-known non-puppet work, at least among Americans of a certain generation, is Space: 1999.
In 1975, the original Star Trek (henceforward TOS) had been off the air for six years and had gradually developed into a cult series. Its creator (purportedly, anyway–for more on that, see here and here), Gene Roddenberry, had been trying unsuccessfully to resuscitate the series (finally succeeding with STTMP in 1979) ever since. Meanwhile, the appetite of the public for more science fiction had been whetted. Gerry Anderson decided to feed that appetite with a new sf series. Enter Space: 1999.
Not that costumes are the most important aspect of the movie, but I have discussed the music, special effects, and art direction; and the costumes, for better or worse, are a huge departure from those of TOS, to say nothing of being a big part of the look of Star Trek: The Motion Picture. Thus, I decided to discuss them a bit. Also, as a matter of minor housekeeping, I’ve decided to abbreviate the title of the movie and to remove the “Movie Review” for the remaining posts in this series. It has, after all, gone far beyond a standard review. I may emend the titles of past installments, too, but we’ll see.
As discussed in the very first installment of this series, originally STTMP was to have been a television series, Star Trek: Phase II. While the redesign of the ship was much like what made it to the screen in the movie, there were originally no plans to change the costumes substantially. Observe the screen test photos below of Persis Khambatta as Ilia (left) and David Gautreaux as full Vulcan Xon (the character was dropped, but Gautreaux was given a cameo as commander of the station that first detects the attack of V’Ger on the Klingon ships in STTMP).
The material of Xon’s shirt seems slightly different from that used in the costumes on the old series, and his hair is inexplicably long and seventies-ish. It is also clear that Khambatta wasn’t fully committed to the show yet, as it’s clear that she has bald makeup on, rather than shaving her head, as she did for the movie. The main point, though, is that both the design and color scheme of the uniforms is unchanged from TOS, right down to the plunging neckline and miniskirt for the women’s version. All that would change, though.
The posts on Star Trek: The Motion Picture have gone beyond the number I’d originally expected. At this point, I’d thought I had no more than a couple posts left. As I’ve continued, however, and as more themes and ideas have come to mind, it seems as if I’ll need at least four posts, and perhaps more than that, to finish what I have to say about it. Thus, while leaving the essays on STTMP at the general Star Trek index, and putting the future ones there, as well, I’ve decided to give it an index of its own right here. Enjoy!
Continuing in my long-on-hiatus series of essays about Star Trek: The Motion Picture, I’d like to discuss the cast very briefly before I go on to interpretation.
As I pointed out last time, there are major problems with the script. To their credit, the cast make the best of what they’re given. I can’t really single out one bad performance. The returning supporting members of the original TV cast–Grace Lee Whitney as Janice Rand, Nichelle Nichols as Uhura, James Doohan as Scotty, Walter Koenig as Chekov, George Takei as Sulu, and Majel Barrett Roddenberry as Nurse (now Doctor) Chapel–are all good, turning in professional performances in character, as if it had been only the previous season and not a decade previously that they’d last played their roles. It is most unfortunate that they were given so little to do. Doohan gets the most screen time, given the long sequence where he ferries Kirk to the refurbished Enterprise, and he makes the most of every second. Star Trek lore has it that Doohan was particularly resentful of William Shatner for his supposed jockeying for screen time at the expense of everyone else. Indeed, Doohan is said to have nursed a grudge against Shatner until shortly before Doohan’s death. I can’t help but think that Doohan was getting a kick out of upstaging Shatner in this sequence! None of the other supporting cast is given more than a line or two, but they do what they can with them. At least Uhura doesn’t have to say, “Captain, I’m frightened!”