Throughout the 1970s, the Star Trek television series created by Gene Roddenberry was kept alive in the form of endless repeats demanded by its fanatical fans, dubbed “Trekkies”.
Their heroes were finally brought to the big screen in 1979 in Star Trek – The Motion Picture, directed by Robert Wise. William Shatner and Leonard Nimoy were reincarnated from the old TV show along with most of the lesser characters.
Captain Kirk (now a desk-bound Admiral and Chief of Starfleet Operations), Mr Spock and their colleagues from the USS Enterprise find themselves defending the Earth in the 23rd century against a mysterious space cloud.
Kirk pulls strings and calls in favours to be re-assigned as captain of the Enterprise, arrogantly displacing the young, “untried” Captain, Will Decker (Stephen Collins).
It transpires there is a space vessel hidden within the cloud – a living machine called V’ger which is powered by an old NASA Voyager probe from the 20th century, re-purposed by an advanced society of living machines on the other side of the galaxy and sent back to Earth to find God – its “Creator.”
Kirk, Spock and Decker each find personal enlightenment along the way, resolving their personal dilemmas and also saving Earth from destruction.
Paramount lavished $40 million on the movie, approximately eight times the budget of the entire original series. Four huge soundstages at Paramount Studios were taken over to house the advanced technological computerised equipment built for the new Enterprise bridge, all of which was fully operable.
Some of the intimacy of the TV series was lost, although the thoughtful plot attempted to play on the series’ great strength in dealing with ideas rather than action.
Admiral James T. Kirk
Dr Leonard ‘Bones’ McCoy
Engineering Officer ‘Scotty’ Montgomery
Communications Officer Uhura
Dr Christine Chapel
Commander Willard Decker
Transport Chief Janice Rand
Grace Lee Whitney
Lieutenant Commander Sonak
Jon Rashad Kamal
Billy Van Zandt