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GustavoLeao

Its All THE MOTION PICTURE Fault

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Tonight, Its STAR TREK THE MOTION PICTURE re-watch time, its on TV - and here are tons of rare (I think) photos (okay actually theres just 5 photos) of the making of the USS Enterprise refit Magicam studio model in 1978. Why ? Because this movie was my introduction to STAR TREK at age 10, you see I was too busy reading comics and watching cartoons during my childhood LOL And when I saw the Enterprise leaving drydock with the Jerry Goldsmith score and so forth............I knew this was special. Yep, you can blame those posts and my 16-years ternure as editor of TrekWeb.com on STAR TREK THE MOTION PICTURE. LOL !

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And here are my heroes.......

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Because the humana dventure was just beginning...............

Gus

 

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If only they remembered to have color on that bridge and those uniforms. 

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I love TMP.

I was about 12 or 13 when I first saw it, and it just blew my mind.  I'll admit to some of the naysayer criticisms that the pacing is uneven (the results of rushing to meet an insane deadline; it never cut a final polish edit) and that the characters seem a bit drained of color (both in their uniforms and in personalities), but... and this is why TMP is so special to me...  this was also one of the rare space epics of that time that REALLY made me appreciate the awe and wonder of outer space.    It was the "2001" of the 1970s.   The problem was that it came out at a time when the public was craving swashbuckling space fare like Star Wars (understandable, since Star Wars came out only 2 years before and generated many imitators).   

Was it 'good Star Trek'?  No, not really.   TMP's plot is an admitted rehash of "The Changeling" "Doomsday Machine" and "Immunity Syndrome" (or as writer David Gerrold called it, "Where Nomad Has Gone Before").   But does it work as a standalone science fiction movie?   Yes, absolutely.   It's basically the ONLY Star Trek film that truly deserves the title of 'science fiction' since it is not about revenge, or big weapons or space battles (not a single phaser is fired in the film, BTW; can't imagine that happening today); it is about an emergent artificial intelligence that is trying to discover exactly who and what it is.   I can't imagine a major studio forking over the kind of money that was spent on TMP for a movie that doesn't have spaceship battles or giant CGI robots kicking the crap out of each other.    TMP was a unique experiment in the ST canon; then AND now.

It is also gifted with a score from the late Jerry Goldsmith that is absolutely sublime.   Still my favorite in the ST soundtrack canon, and I have almost all of the soundtracks (save INS, NEM and STID).   It's not necessarily "Horatio Hornblower in Space" nautical, sweeping stuff; it's more 'exploring the unknown' music.  There are rousing bits; the main title track is appropriately "Star Trek-kian" (so much so that it later became the theme to TNG on television).   And there are only minor uses of Alexander Courage's TOS theme (in the 'captain's logs' moments), but otherwise it is a totally new and lush score; every minute of which is experimental (the 'beam-blasters' sound really cool!) and sweeping (the 'out there... that away' scene, for example).   This is a movie I could almost enjoy just as much with music and images alone.  If ever there was a DVD or BR that would benefit from an 'isolated soundtrack' audio track?  THIS is it. 

And the Enterprise herself NEVER looked better in any Star Trek movie; before or since.  
The meticulously painted, abalone/iridescent/aztec-tiled paint job is just jaw-droppingly gorgeous.   That miniature may have been a pain in the ass to shoot, but the work speaks for itself.  For the sequels, the model was coated with a easier-to-matte finish that was a dulled down quite a bit.  Such a shame.   That original paint job was unique for the time.   Never equalled.   And the ship porn!   Holy smokes, there is a six-minute sequence of Scotty shuttling Admiral Kirk over to the Enterprise and he lovingly guides the travel pod over every square inch of the ship (!); I can't imagine ANY space epic doing that these days.   This was back in the day when audiences PAID ATTENTiON to the images onscreen, and didn't check their phones to update their status every five minutes.   It was a different (and sadly lost) era. 

And the V'ger cloud sequence was a beautiful FX scene that was half-"2001" and half Carl Sagan's COSMOS.   And once again, the musical score is like something in a dream; lush, deep, and mysterious.   

But back to its issues for a moment; there are some character arcs concerning Kirk's almost addictive need to assume command and Spock's overwhelming desire to understand V'ger, but not much else.  New characters Decker and Ilia (who were to be series' regulars on the aborted ST revival, "Phase II") are little more than glorified interlopers; redshirts who actually get some spotlight before they're ultimately whisked away to 'join with V'ger' in a giant light-show finale.  It's a shame that much of their spotlight isn't given to the frustrated regular cast (who pretty much do what they did in the series; in some cases, even less so).    That is my single biggest criticism of the movie; an almost defiant lack of character development for most of the otherwise charming TOS cast. 

TMP isn't a movie about traditional A-to-B story, or character relationships.   It was an experiment; a tone poem of science fiction.   I view it more as a transcendental theatrical experience than a traditional movie, much in the same way I first viewed "2001" (at a a revival screening in L.A. as a teen) or even "Avatar" on opening weekend (in a 3 story IMAX theatre in totally immersive 3D).   Those movies were more about the experience of GOING to a movie, and less about dramatics.   Yes, you felt something, but not so much for the characters or their arcs; it was more about immersing yourself in a world.    ST-TMP reminded me more of a gorgeous planetarium show rather than a straight movie.    When it was over, I kind of felt like I'd been in space space.    No Star Trek movie before or since has ever really done that for me, and that's OK; it was a good thing that the sequels focused more on what made me love Star Trek in the first place (the people, the relationships and the stories).     

But... I still feel privileged that I got to see TMP the way it was first intended (on a big movie screen, in the dark) rather than on a dinky 20" TV or even a 45" plasma screen.  

TMP was designed entirely as a theatrical experience; and IMO it is the only Star Trek that truly FEELS like a genuine motion picture, and not a continuation of a television show; even the more epically scaled Bad Robot movies don't allow the audience to savor the experience quite the way Robert Wise's 'noble failure' of a movie did back in December of 1979.

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I remember standing in front of the old Capri theater with my older brother  (It was a stand alone theater - not even in a mall!)  I was 18 and had skipped classes to go see it with him.  The guys behind us had construction hats on with Klingon D-7 models glued to the tops.  People went wild when the curtain opened up.  (The Capri had a stage in front of the screen so it was covered with a huge curtain.)  Can't blame it for being hooked on Trek, though.  I had been hooked on it since it debuted on NBC.      

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Great pics, Gus! I've never seen any of those before. These must have been taken before they did the redesign of the Enterprise's lower sensor dome.

Still, probably, my favorite version of the Enterprise. She is majestic, even as a miniature.

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Yep, Robin, some of these pics were taken before the Andrew Probert designs revisions on the model to ad more detail.

Thanks !

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Sanples of concept designer/illustrator Andrew Probert designs for the USS Enterprise refit model build at Magicam for STAR TREK THE MOTION PICTURE

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Very cool. I love all the thinking that went into the design of the impulse engines!

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Indeed, and have also designed the Enterprise-C and the Enterprise-D and the ships from TNG first season, I think it would be wonderful if Bryan Fuller asked Probert to design the ships from STAR TREK DISCOVERY. sigh

Here are  afew more photos of filming the models for STAR TREK THE MOTION PICTURE, including the huge V'Ger model.

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V'GER :

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Edited by GustavoLeao

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Great pics Gus.

I was already into repeats of TOS on the BBC,  when one Saturday morning in 79, I opened the centre pages of my Dad's newspaper and there she was:- the new bridge,

Back then, had no idea that there was a planned series and then that changed to the motion picture.

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Yeah, here is an article I wrote for TrekWeb on the aborted STAR TREK PHASE 2 series

As  Star Trek fans are aware, several attempts at a Star Trek motion picture were made in the 1970s, including Gene Roddenberry’s 1975 treatment The God Thing, and a later attempt called Planet of the Titans, which proceeded to script stage to be abandoned in 1977. It was decided instead to create a new Star Trek television series, for a new national television network to be owned by Paramount. This was announced on June 17, 1977 with a projected start date of February 1978.

The series was planned to have included William Shatner and DeForest Kelley reprising their roles as James T. Kirk and Leonard McCoy. Conspicuous by his absence was Leonard Nimoy, who declined to return due to a marketing issue over the Spock character and obligations to the play Equus, although early scripts included him. Nimoy turned down an offer to appear in two of every eleven episodes.

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The series would have included several new characters, such as Commander Willard ‘Will’ Decker, the Executive Officer, (possibly introduced to eventually replace Kirk, as William Shatner was only signed for 13 episodes), Lieutenant Ilia (played by Persis Khanbatta), and the Vulcan Lieutenant Xon (played by David Gautreaux, who was replaced by Nimoy when he returned for TMP)

The refit of the original Enterprise formed an integral part of the plot of “In Thy Image”. Originally, designer Ralph McQuarrie – best known to the public for his production designs for the Star Wars films – was invited to England to work under Ken Adam to help develop the designs for the Planet of Titans movie, ultimately abandoned to make way for Phase II, the television series

Their Enterprise design, however, was abandoned, and Gene Roddenberry asked Matt Jefferies to update the famous starship to reflect the refit that the ship had undergone. Jefferies’ redesign changed the engine nacelles from tubes to thin, flat-sided modules, and tapered their supports. He also added the distinctive photon torpedo ports on the saucer connector.

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“Basically,” Jefferies said, “what I did to it was change the power units, and make a slight change in the struts that supported them. I gave the main hull a taper, then I went flat-sided and thin with the power units, rather than keeping the cylindrical shape. Trying to work out the logic of the refit, I knew a lot of the equipment inside would change, but I didn’t see that there would be any need to change the exterior of the saucer. Certainly, though, the engines would be a primary thing to change. Part of the theory of the ship’s design in the first place was that we didn’t know what these powerful things were or how devastating it would be if anything went awry, so that’s why we kept them away from the crew. And that meant they could be easily changed if you had to replace one.”

Unlike the first redesign of the Enterprise, Jefferies’ new version was built this time by Don Loos, supervised by Brick Price of “Brick Price’s Movie Miniatures“, to whom Magicam had subcontracted the construction. But when Paramount abandoned its plans to create a fourth television network and subsequently transformed the third Star Trek series into the first movie, that Enterprise was packed away as movie director Robert Wise brought in a new art director – Richard Taylor – who assigned Andrew Probert to do a second redesign of the ship, essentially keeping with Jefferies’ new lines, while adding the extensive detail that was necessary for a motion-picture miniature.

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Mike Minor‘s designs for the interior sets for the new Star Trek series are clearly an evolutionary step between the original series and The Motion Picture. The bridge built for Phase II survived almost intact to the film, while the transporter room was essentially a redress of the original set with more streamlined console and new wall displays.

The proposed Paramount Television Service folded. The planned pilot episode entitled “In Thy Image”, following the success of the science fiction movies Star Wars and Close Encounters of the Third Kind, became instead a theatrical movie, Star Trek: The Motion Picture.

Matt Jefferies quotes from Memory Alpha article on Phase II

This article was originally writen for the late TrekWeb.com site by Gustavo Leao.

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^
Those latest pics are sensational!  
I especially love the one of Persis Khambatta planting a kiss on an in-character Leonard Nimoy, and Doohan taking his wife and baby on a tour of the Enterprise.   Those are just amazing.

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Here is a pic of the USS Enterprise refit model under construction at Magicam. Just a wondeful design !

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Gus

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Bob Wise filming the VGer probe scene (note the glasses)

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Gus

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Another great behind the scsnes pic of Khambatta and Collins birthday - inclkuding Shatner !

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Gus

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Another great behind the scsnes pic of Khambatta and Collins birthday - inclkuding Shatner !

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Gus

I remember reading in Walter Koenig's making-of book "Chekov's Enterprise" (a LOOOONG time ago) that Khambatta and Collins had day apart birthdays in October, if I'm not mistaken.  

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New shots of the Magicam Enterprise model under construction (from the RODDENBERRY Facebook page)

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Gus

 

 

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