Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Dec 7th: Happy Birthday ST:TMP!

Star Trek may have been born on September 8, 1966, but it was born again on December 7th, 1979. It's rebirth was a long time coming; although in retrospect it doesn't seem that long, for those of us who lived through the 70's as a fan, it was very long indeed. Now, as I look back, it's hard to believe that 31 years have passed since the newest Star Trek in over a decade was bursting upon us, heralded in the TV spots by the weighty tones of the equally weighty Orson Welles. This wasn't just a new movie... it was an Event!

(If you are new to this site, and haven't yet plumbed its depths, click on this link for all the entries tagged Star Trek: The Motion Picture to enjoy the many articles and items I've posted so far. It will take you back to that exciting time!) Here's an article you can skip to that came out the weekend of the movie premiere that spotlights Stephen Collins.

Here is a short article from issue #17 of Starlog (published in October of 1978) that features the upcoming movie, as it was just getting underway; for real this time.

(Click on images to enlarge.)

Here's the Star Trek Report from Susan Sackett from the same issue. There's a line in it from a hopeful writer about a planned book set "70 years in Star Trek's future." Don't think the book got published, but it is interesting that it just about coincides with the time of the future Next Generation series that came later. Coincidence? Or the germ of the idea to advance things to that time period? Like how many licks it takes to get to the center of a Tootsie Roll Pop, the world may never know.

Bonus #1: Here's one of several coloring books that came out in 1979 using publicity photos from the movie for front and back covers. A nice picture on the front that I don't have anywhere else.

The phrasing of the text on the back is amusing: "The Enterprise has beamed down on you..." Huh?

Bonus #2: A nice b&w publicity shot, taken very early in the shoot (possibly on the first day) of the crew all together.

Nichelle's uniform would have been so much better by leaving off the pants and letting her wear high black boots.

And one more bonus, a nice photo of our heroes in those infamous one-piece jumpsuits that left nothing to the imagination below the waist.

One word that describes the movie that really doesn't fit any of the sequels in "epic." The scope, the leisuirely pace to enjoy the scale, and the lofty ideas and concepts all combine to take one on what feels like an important journey, and not just an adventure. The tagline, "The Human Adventure Is Just Beginning" is accurate (if not in the intended meaning), in that the action/adventure would only come in followups; but this one, more than any other, had the feeling of a truly big-budget film, and not just a movie. The oft-maligned drydock tour of the ship, criticized by many as too long and only being a showcase for special effects, was for me the highlight of it all; the long-hoped-for lingering look, in close-up detail, had tears of awe flowing from my eyes the first time I beheld the starship in all it's glory. I knew how Kirk felt as he gazed at her with love!

That said, the tightened and finished Director's Cut is the superior version, and the only one I take out to watch now. I look forward to doing that once more to celebrate this 31st birthday!


david_b said...

Suffice to say, TMP is my FAVORITE Trek film of all. That's primarily due to a few reasons:

1) The 70s, and all the stops/starts/Star Wars/Shatner-Nimoy 'feud' talk generated by the press..
2) Before Harve Bennett came on board, it seems like the only film which doesn't feel like part of an on-going franchise.
3) It's the only Trek movie that feels very majestic, like it's actually 'exploring' space, rather than smug "look at us, we're older but can still fly a starship with 20something cadets" story arcs.

Don't get me wrong, I found all the Trek films entertaining for other reasons(OK, except for the final Next Gen entries after 'First Contact..), but for folks our age, TMP will always have a special place in ALL our hearts the much-younger fans will never know.

I'll celebrate by putting on the delightful Directors Cut DVD tonight..!!

Frederick said...

It's true that only us fans that lived through it, and knew the excitement and happiness that anticipating and then seeing the film brought to us, can appreciate what the movie meant to us. Even with it's flaws, it's very existiance seemed a miracle, and dream come true.

I like the completed Director's Cut so much more than the original version, and I too will watch it tonight. Enjoy!

Rob Bignell said...

The motion picture feels very much like what Gene Roddenberry wanted "Star Trek" to be: It moves at a leisurely, introspective pace, like "The Cage" or "Charlie X". It's much more like "2001" than "Star Wars" ... and what's wrong with that? Because of this, in many ways the novelization works better than the motion picture (how about posting a cover of that novel, Frederick?). Because of my hometown's narrowminded theater owner, I read the novel first until ST:TMP showed up locally during the movie industry's slow season in April. For me, the movie is a brisk retelling of the novel, and because of that doesn't drag at all for me. Thanks for the post and remembering this truly underappreciated movie.

jonnoholt said...

I think TMP is my favourite movie because like the 2009 version it sets everything up. I know each felt clunky at times because of the need for a narrative to explain to non-Trekkers what is going on, who is who and why they are all there in the first place!
All hail TMP and I'm going to watch it. Now.

chunky B said...

I am going to agree with the other commenters in that this movie does hold a special place, and with you Frederick that living through that time was exciting. For me it was the anticipation of seeing the Enterprise again and the rumors that it had changed. Seeing the crew all together again and how each was re-introduced. I especially love the build up when Scotty takes Kirk on a little tour of the outside of the ship. It does seem like a much grander movie than the others almost like watching an opera.

I never read the novelization though and now thanks to Rob Bignell's comment I will be hunting it down online here in a few minutes.

Rob Bignell said...

Always glad to suggest a good book, chunky B. As you've probably just discovered, Roddenberry penned much of the book himself. It has a wonderful preface "by" Admiral Kirk and on p. 39 a moving description of Starfleet Command headquarters, which I've always taken as a metaphor for "Star Trek itself: "... a statement ... in poetry about a very necessary relationship between the mud below and the stars above."

Frederick said...

And we can't forget the stirring description of the state of Kirk's genitals upon seeing his ex-wife Lori Ciani, whom we found out was the female whose atoms were scrambled by the transporter accident.

chunky B said...

Wait don't tell me anymore! I'm waiting for it to arrive! LOL.

Rob Bignell said...

Hey Fred, Dec. 17 is my birthday. Can you make a post for me?

Frederick said...

Happy (belated) Birthday! I was out Christmas shopping and didn't see your comment til it was too late. But let me know what you had in mind and I'll see what I can do!

Rob Bignell said...

Thanks for the birthday wishes, Frederick, and no problem - hope you found everything you were looking for while shopping Anything from the 70s, maybe something about The Animated Series. Merry Christmas to you and your family!

Ron Albanese said...

I loved TOS, loved the TMP hype in '79, but today REALLY LOVE this film. The look, the story, everything.
It stands on its own as a fully realized, ambitious Gene Roddenberry creation.

The uniforms are awesome!