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Thursday, October 13, 2016

Spitting with Their Last Breath

Few people share my view that Star Trek: The Motion Picture is the best of the Star Trek films, and I won't regurgitate my arguments for that view here. But I was just reminded of a small moment from the movie, something I imagine not many folks noticed or thought about, but that resonated with me nonetheless.

The picture opens with a trio of Klingon warships intercepting the movie's alien threat, V'Ger, a giant space cloud of unfathomable power. V'Ger easily wipes two of the three ships out of existence with giant bolts of energy. The surviving ship retreats, firing aft torpedoes in an effort to blow up the energy bolt pursuing them. One torpedo fails, swallowed up by V'Ger's implacable energy. At the very last second before impact, the Klingon ship fires one final torpedo, which is just as ineffective as the others. The last Klingon ship is obliterated.

I like a couple of things about this scene. First, the special effects, sound effects and music are handled marvelously. Second, I think it reveals something about the stubborn defiance of the Klingon character; to the very last instant they're fighting, even in the face of hopeless odds. It's one final attempt to poke their enemy in the eye.

For whatever reason, Robert Wise and his team went to the trouble to add another effects shot just to add a little extra flavour to an already fine scene. I appreciate that effort, even if it went mostly unnoticed by the majority of the audience. 

1 comment:

Jeff Shyluk said...

It's TMP that sets the tone for post-classic-TV-series Klingons. I recall at how amazed people were at the transformation from TV actors covered with shoe polish to something that looks and sounds alien. The opening scene with the Klingon cruisers stands up extremely well today, and provides a satisfying bridge between the limitations of the TV series Klingons and the new Klingons. Using the classic ship design allows the audience to catch up to the fact that things have changed since the final episode of the TV show.

Klingons became the comic-opera buffoons of science fiction in TNG, though. Every man, errr Klingonjack of them a hearty Falstaff swilling bloodwine, gakh, and Klingon coffee, the extended storylines featuring a bewildering mix of Alexander, discommendation, the Duras sisters, cowboy hats, and the ping-pong ball eyes of Gowron.