#690 – Star Trek: The Motion Picture

A few weeks ago I wrote a post listing my favorite Star Trek movies in order from one to 12. That inspired fellow Christian nerd, Mickey, to share his favorite Star Trek movies at Geeks of Christ. He gave a much more in depth look at each movie, which has inspired me to do the same. Instead of listing the movies based upon my ranking, I thought I would just go through them chronologically. I plan on sharing some of my thoughts after a fresh viewing of each movie and whether or not it should move up or down my list of favorites.

So let’s get things started with Star Trek: The Motion Picture.

Star Trek 1

I was probably 12 years old when I first watched Star Trek: The Motion Picture. I didn’t remember much about the movie other than the fact that I was bored out of my mind. Upon recently watching it, though, I wasn’t nearly as bored and I agree with Mickey who wrote that Star Trek: The Motion Picture “might be the most Star Trek of all the movies.”

In terms of its themes and explorative spirit, I think Star Trek: The Motion Picture most closely resembles the original series and Gene Roddenberry’s vision of the future. Here are some further thoughts about those themes.

Evolution

The idea that humanity launched a probe, which gained sentience and is ready to transcend to another level of being is very Star Trek. As I’ve written about before, Roddenberry was a secular humanist who believed humanity can achieve anything it wants. If a manmade probe can grow beyond the confines of this universe, why can’t that probe’s creators? I thoroughly missed this idea when I was 12; now I can’t help but see Roddenberry’s humanistic optimism all over Star Trek: The Motion Picture. Even though I clearly don’t agree with Roddenberry’s worldview, I can’t help but admire his optimism. He had an unquenchable hope; unfortunately it was placed in man and not the Son of Man.

Exploration

The Enterprise’s mission was exploration, to seek out new life and new civilizations. That mission gets lost in almost all of the Star Trek movies, except for The Motion Picture and potentially The Final Frontier (I’ll know better when I rewatch that one as well). Admiral Kirk wasn’t itching to sit back in the chair because he wanted to fight a giant space cloud. Kirk wanted to be back aboard the Enterprise to seek out new life and see something no one had ever seen before. Exploration may not be as exciting as a battle with Khan or the Klingons, but it does better represent the heart of Roddenberry’s wagon train to the stars. We know there’s more to this life, which pushes us to explore and see what’s out there. We’ll only ever be satisfied, though, if our exploration leads us to the one who created us with that desire in the first place.

Relationships

Amidst all the evolution and exploration, Star Trek: The Motion Picture still centered on relationships: the relationships between Kirk and his crew, the relationships between Spock and his human crewmates and even the relationship between a human and V’Ger. Something Christianity and Star Trek agree on is the necessity for relationships. As the body of Christ we cannot succeed on our own and the crew of the Enterprise are at their best when working together. V’Ger needed a relationship to reach its next state of being and we cannot expect to be like Christ if we walk the narrow road alone.

Star Trek: The Motion Picture wasn’t a perfect movie. Kirk and Scotty could have gotten to the Enterprise faster if they had walked. I don’t understand why going into warp was so difficult. Those uniforms were worse than when they put dudes in the skirt uniforms in The Next Generation’s first season.

However, after watching it again, I have come to appreciate Star Trek: The Motion Picture. It stays true to Gene Roddenberry’s vision of the future and it has the same heart as the original series. I originally ranked Star Trek: The Motion Picture as my least favorite Star Trek movie; it is definitely moving up the list.

What are your thoughts about Star Trek: The Motion Picture?

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9 Responses to “#690 – Star Trek: The Motion Picture”

  1. Awesome review, Scott!

    There are gems in this one. But its real strength is as an artifact of Roddenberry’s vision. Totally agree.

    Peace and have a great weekend!

  2. So, I guess the momentum in our circle of blogging Christian Trekkies is such that I will have to do this, too. And, of course, tell you both where you are so very, very wrong. 🙂

    Seriously, though, this is another excellent post, Scott. I especially liked how you lift up God as the one who instilled a desire to head “out there… thataway” (I LOVE that line!) in our hearts. Perhaps boldly going where none have gone before is part of the Imago Dei, too… just as God is, in his inner Trinitarian self, a community on a continuing mission, so is humanity called to go and explore – not in isolation (at least not always), but together, as a crew/community of “spaceship Earth” (nod to Disney).

    TMP’s not perfect, no. But it only keeps getting better with age.

    • I think the feeling to boldly go is definitely part of the Imago Dei. Obviously God has no need to explore, but he is always on the move and doing something new. We’ve been instilled with that same desire, to be on the move and doing something new. And God encouraged that desire with the cultural mandate in Genesis 1.

      If you were to analyze the Star Trek movies, your insight and depth would put mine to shame, but I’d still be happy to read them.

  3. Firstly, Scott, thank you for drawing attention to what Mickey’s been doing over at GoC. I am so work-focused right now that I have sadly neglected the Christian Geek blogosphere. Your post and Mickey’s are presently enticing me back in quite effectively. 🙂

    Secondly, you’re bang on in your assessment here. The ideas at play are the key to appreciating this film. And Nimoy has a point when he says it’s maybe all a bit too much like 2001 , but there are many good Star Trek concepts and values in the film.

    There are many wonderful things about this film. Sure, much of it moves too slowly, but it’s still terribly beautiful and kind of amazing to look at–especially when you consider the depth of physical craftsmanship involved in creating all those sluggish-but-gorgeous-but-sluggish V’Ger fly-over shots. In our digital age, even though a ton of work goes into CGI, it seems we’re rarely impressed by visual spectacle anymore. But, somehow, when you think, “My goodness, someone BUILT that!” it all gets more impressive.

    Hmm…Now I’m wondering if I’ll have to incorporate my own analysis of the films into Spocktober.

    Thanks for the excellent post, sir!

  4. […] week I watched Star Trek: The Motion Picture. This week I watched Star Trek II: The Wrath of […]

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