Star Trek: The Motion Picture

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You may be looking for the novelization by Gene Roddenberry, Star Trek: The Motion Picture (novel).

Title: Star Trek: The Motion Picture
Creator: Gene Roddenberry
Date(s): 1979
Medium: film
Fandom: Star Trek
Language: English
External Links: IMDb entry

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Star Trek: The Motion Picture (sometimes abbreviated Star Trek:TMP, ST:TMP, or TMP) was the first film adaptation of the original Star Trek television series.


back cover of Hyperion (1979), artist is Tim Frayser, "NUMBER TWO'S GONNA BE EVEN BETTER!"

After being off-screen for nearly 10 years, fans eagerly awaited the release of the first feature length Star Trek movie. They had fought long and hard, creating numerous fan letter campaigns lobbying Paramount for further adventures of the Starship Enterprise and her crew. While many fans rejoiced in the movie's release, others felt it was too long and boring suffering from a bloated plot with too many long tracking shots of traveling through space.

The novelization of the movie, however, provided K/S fans some legitimacy when Gene Roddenberry translated the word T'hy'la, an affectionate name that Spock gives to Kirk, in a footnote to encompass "friend, lover and brother." An analysis of that footnote can be found at The Footnote: An Explication de Texte.

Work began on the film in 1975, and it involved many twists and turns.

A Scene Beloved by Many Fans

Spock says, "Jim... This... simple feeling is beyond V'ger's comprehension."

Rumors and Early Descriptions

Fans, as well as PTB, heard, and spread rumors, of what they'd heard about the upcoming movie.

1975 Descriptions

University campuses were a popular spot for Gene Roddenberry to give speeches and presentations to fans, both about the original show, and his future creative plans.

From a December 1975 press conference at Memphis State University:

  • 1) There will be a Star Trek movie to be released in the winter of 1976. It is tentatively entitle[d] STAR TREK II.
  • 2) Special effects will be used extensively. The Magician system [sic - the reporter meant '"Magicam"] will be used. The main sets consisting of the bridge, sickbay, transporter room, etc., will be rebuilt.
  • 4) The USS Enterprise will be the ship used with a few interior modifications.
  • 5) All original actors have been appropriated.
  • 6) A script has been accepted by Paramount. Roddenberry and three notable sci-fi writers worked on the script, one of which was Lester Del Rey.
  • 7) Paramount ran a survey which stated that there are ten million potential ticket buyers for the Star Trek movie. The movie budget is 4-5 million dollars, Paramount could make over 50 million dollars. NBC has stated that if the movie is a success, they want the show back on the air. It would not return as a sixty minute program, but as a ninety minute program which would appear once a month.
  • 8) A major article about Star Trek will appear in Newsweek magazine. A time has not been set. [1]

From Destiny of Science Fiction, Spring 1975:

"Paramount and Gene Roddenberry's Norway Productions have announced definite plans on making a theatrical movie based [on] the tv series Star Trek. Roddenberry shall be Executive Producer and will write the script for the movie. Work is now underway on re-constructing the sets and the starship. The original USS Enterprise was donated to the Smithsonian's National Air and Space Museum. Negotiations are being made with the original cast, although there is a chance William Shatner, and possibly Leonard Nimoy, won't be back. Shatner said he enjoyed the show, but probably wouldn't do it again unless the other actors and actresses agreed to perform their characters again. Chances are that the majority of the original cast will agree, because they haven't done much since the tv series. Only Shatner and Nimoy have enjoyed a profitable acting career since the end of the third season of Star Trek."[2]

A 1977 Description

I'm wondering about just how good this movie is going to be. I have received information on the movie, and what I have does not seen to indicate a good ST movie. While not disclosing the nature of the script (of course) the information states that the Enterprise will be redesigned, the sets will all be miniaturized, Mark Lenard will be playing Spock as Nimoy's "In Search Of" series is still going, McCoy will have left Starfleet to become a vet, Uhura will love Chekov (not Kirk), Sulu will cast as a homosexual, and Scotty will he a drunk.

Also, Women's Lib has forced pantsuits on the female crew, there will be no violence whatsoever, no Klingons, or Romulans, and former "Yeoman" Rand will have her own ship, if Paramount even agrees to that ludicrous demand. Nurse Chapel will have become chief surgeon on the Enterprise, and all that begins to stack up as yech! I think that a lot of ST fans will he greatly disappointed, and the non-fans will be able to point their finger at the flick and say "I told you so" to anyone who brings up the idea of bringing ST back to the air. That's if it hits the screen like that! It doesn't sound too encouraging, but if enough people get steamed and stand up for what they want to see from ST, I believe we could make a great movie to carry on the Trek tradition.

...I'd like to clear up some very bad rumors about the ST movie mentioned by Robert in his letter. He has mentioned several things which simply aren't true.
1. Yes, the Enterprise interior sets will be redesigned to incorporate the many scientific advances made in the 11 years since its designing. In an interview with the British TV-SCI-FI magazine, GR said, "If STAR TREK had continued in the years since, we would have had to have made some changes anyway. It will have the same general contours, but the instrumentation will be more sophisticated. Science has now far surpassed what we were doing back then as far as data readouts and so on are concerned." Also, in a recent appearance in New York, Gene said, "On close up, we hope to knock you back in your seats." He said that the new sets would be more sophisticated and expensive. Remember too that Matt Jeffries is working on the new designs.
2. Yes, some (probably planet surface sets) sets will be miniaturized. The MAGICAM process, a new special effects process, is able to perfectly synchronize two cameras;one films the actors against a blue background, the other films a miniature set. Gene said that MAGICAM would be able to give the effect of actors walking through miniature sets, in miniature doors, and that the process could convert an area the size of a basketball arena into a planet's surface. However, only certain parts will be done using the process. Both GR and Jerry Isenburg (the project's executive producer) have expressed faith in MAGICAM.
3. Never has there been talk of Mark Lenard playing Spock!!! Leonard Nimoy, according to several of those involved, wants to make the movie, but wants some contract problems ironed out. He wants fair compensation for all the merchandising of ST — his face appears on products all over the world and he doesn't get any money for it. Jerry Isenburg, in Star Trektennial News, said, "I think Leonard's intention is to hopefully make it work. We know ours is, and we will stretch every way possible to make the deals work." As Shatner said, "He'll be in it."
4. The bit about McCoy becoming a vet was incorporated in Gene's original rejected script. As he says, "The situation was that the five year mission was over and it had been over for some time. McCoy had given up treating human patients and decided to become a veterinarian, loudly proclaiming them as the only sensible patients he had ever had in his life." This won't be used in the movie and you can expect to see McCoy back in his old job. The story, according to Isenburg, "...will take place within a year or two Earth time of when the series left off." So, McCoy again will be doctor!
5. No where (no where reliable) has there been a mention of this alleged love affair between Uhura and Chekov in the movie!!! Remember — Gene Roddenberry, the man who is essentially STAR TREK, is producing this movie and will not deviate from the original characterizations. He will have final say as to what goes in the script.
6. Sulu will not be a homosexual !!!!! This rumor was definitely started by a Klingon subversive. No Way!!![note 1]
7. Again, Gene's original script described Scotty as something of a lush after his retirement from Starfleet. He said, "It gave us kind of a fun look at all the characters, their weaknesses and strengths." Again, since this script won't be used, Scotty will be back to normal Starfleet duty in the movie.
8. The pantsuit business came from a reference by William Theiss, ST's costume designer, In Star Trektennial News. In response to the question "Will the women still have mini-skirts? The fans think the costumes were sexist," he said, "Well, I agree with them, and I think Gene does to a degree also. Certainly I agree with them far more than our attitude was in the beginning, although I always felt that the short skirts were a terrible cliche. We can always go to Jumpsuits or pants." He was speaking in a non-definite way. But, since he was the series' original designer, I'm sure he'll come up with some terrific design. ((it should also be pointed out that In both "The Cage" and "Where No Man Has Gone Before", the women were depicted as wearing pants, in early first season episodes, various women in pants are seen running down the corridor during a red alert, etc. What's so bad about having the women wearing pants anyway?? ~ GP))
9. No Violence? Yes, we’ve been assured of plenty of action and adventure in the movie.
As for the Klingons, Gene said, in Letters to Star Trek "I want it to be more than just an elongated STAR TREK television episode. I don't want to go out and fight the Klingons again." This doesn't mean that the Klingons won't be appearing in other movies or a new series — Klingons aren't being kicked out of STAR TREK!
10. No one even knows if Grace Lee Whitney will be in the movie. The reference to Rand having her own ship was intended as a joke in STN, she said (jokingly), "I want my own ship! I want a women's space ship, run by all women." If she is in the movie, don't count on seeing her in her own ship.
11. McCoy will be the Doctor! Majel Barrett said in Trek Times (When asked whether Chapel would be a doctor), "Gee, I don't know. In the first concept she was a doctor. In the second she was back to being a nurse again...God knows how they'll handle Chapel." Chances are she'll be NURSE Chapel. [3][note 2]

Fans as Extras in the Film

One chapter in the book, On the Good Ship Enterprise by Bjo Trimble, and an article by Dennis Fischer, "Part of the Magic: The Experience of Being A Star Trek Extra" for Enterprise Incidents #7, both concern the involvement of local Los Angeles "Star Trek" fans as paid extras in the movie.

A fan recorded her experiences in a poem, The Star Trek Cattlecall.

Many more fan names and memories can be found in a 2007 entry, "Faces in the Crowd", in Ian McLean's Have Phaser, Will Travel blog. [4]

The 2009 Blu-Ray boxed release, "Star Trek: Original Motion Picture Collection", features a reunion of fan extras from "Star Trek: The Motion Picture". "Special Star Trek Reunion" includes Christopher Doohan, David Gerrold, Bjo Trimble, JoAnn Christy-Nolan and Fred Bronson chatting on the same sound stage used for the film's Rec Deck scene.

Also see Fans on Sets.

Fan Comments


[Harlan Ellison]: And television begat Roddenberry, and Roddenberry begat Star Trek, and Star Trek begat Trekkies, and Trekkies begat Clamor, and Clamor begat a Star Trek animated cartoon, and Clamor begat More Clamor, and More Clamor begat Trek Conventions, and Even More Clamor begat T*H*E M*Y*T*H, and T*H*E M*Y*T*H begat Star Trek: The Motion Picture, and the mountain labored mightily and begat... a mouse. [5]

Before any feedback, before the reviews and the picking at it that so many would soon do, the audience's reaction was as mine: The Motion Picture was everything we had dreamed about. Maybe not perfect, but we were willing to forgive the little mistakes for the time being. We had the sickbay scene. We had "This. . .simple feeling." We were satisfied. No, we were triumphant!


The release of ST:TMP triggered a firestorm in the show's fandom. But while it gave the creative element of fandom a whole new set of rules by which to play, it also negated other long-held beliefs and suppositions. There were fans who loved the film. There were fans who scorned and criticized it. But did the film, in and of itself, cause a division among its devotees? I don't think so....I must confess that while I definitely did love The Motion Picture, warts and flyovers and all, it did kill something creative within me. Speaking from a purely personal observation, I found it very difficult to write Trek after ST:TMP. Bev and I produced only one major story set in the aftermath of the movie, and that was for a zine to which we had committed a contribution... But our prolific fan fiction writing days were over. It could have been simple burn out, unconnected to the movie altogether. Or the film itself may have had something to do with it. It wasn't that I saw anything wrong or "off" about what the film postulated. It was all viable canon – the end of the five year mission, Spock going to Gol for mysterious reasons, Kirk accepting a desk job. We read all the creative extrapolations and explanations, and seldom found them wanting. Reflecting back upon it all now, I think it was the idea that this world was no longer my personal playground. Someone else, someone in creative control, had stamped it with their authority. It negated any alternate suppositions I might make and forced me into the narrow confines it had deemed true. It was a clear case of "having is not always so pleasing a thing as wanting". I had begged for a film or series, for new and fresh material – but now that it was a reality, I was sorry I had asked! I suppose, from a personal perspective, I spent the rest of the next decade or so waiting for the next new movie to show me what happened next. I was no longer creatively connected to that universe; I was merely an observer. [6]

No fan has yet seemed to share the bitter disappointment I felt after seeing it.... I found it to be the first genuinely obscene movie I've ever attended. I'm referring, of course, to the design of the alien ship. I have not studied Freud, but even I couldn't miss the implications of that design. If I had had any lingering doubts, all that nonsense between Decker and Ilia about "joining" would have dispelled them. And this thing got a G rating? Just shows how far off the Rating Administration is, but naturally, if they had given it the rating it deserved, it couldn't have turned into the biggest moneymaker in history, now could it?[note 3] I actually felt dirty after leaving the theatre. I'm left with the impression that ST-TMP is someone's idea of a big, filthy joke, frankly. [7][note 4]

When I visited the Star Trek set at Paramount in August of 1978, I was not a pilgrim finding his Sanctuary; I was merely a friend of the film's casting director responding to an invitation to "come on over". I felt a little guilty at the opportunity, for I knew enough of the Star Trek fandom phenomenon to realize that millions Out There would cheerfully have sold their souls for such an opportunity. Yet I was happy it was I and not they when, after breasting a number of formidable security guards (it was a very closed set) and having to produce innumerable badges, amulets and the like, I finally came upon the central set of the Enterprise's Bridge. What can I say about this and the other sets that vere scattered about in fragments like discarded dinosaur bones? They seemed. . well, tacky. . . and cramped. . . I kept looking about for the real sets, the ones that glittered and filled the eye. Instead, I found false perspective corridors with paintings of crewmembers in miniature on the rear flats, fragments of other chambers of the Enterprise small enough for tight medium-shot canera setups, and vast amounts of what looked like junk snaking and coiling across the intertwined series of stages. Worse, all the Enterprise crew (with the exception of Spock, who was absent that day) were lounging about sweating and drinking coffee, for God's sake! I could see lint on their uniforms; and Walter Koenig (with whom I spoke at length) was more interested in his writing career than the work at hand. But worst of all was the scene that was being shot that day, the moment when the Enterprise enters an alien force field. It was a sight calculated to wilt the most ardent Trek Adherent. . . There they were, the crew assembled on the Bridge, Kirk barking out his staccato orders (and flubbing them every time); and all the while they all were shaking. Yes, that's what I said. As they spoke their lines, they all trembled and quaked while at the back of the set 3 blue-jeaned prop man waved a long pole at the tip of which was affixed an orange disc. The moving disc, apparently, was to fix their eye movements so that when the special effects were later inserted, there would be continuity. The shaking was occasioned by the fact that in the script the Enterprise was supposed to be caught in the grip of the alien force. In the harsh light of the set, however, it looked merely ludicrous. It was hardly a sight for anyone believing in Star Trek, science fiction movies, or magic. But then, who really wants to be let in on the secret behind the illusion? It was Steve Allen who said once that "some things are beautiful only at a distance; don't complain, keep your distance." Because I am not infected with the Star Trek fever, I survived the moment in relatively good shape. I have been on soundstages before and was able to adjust to the smallness of it all. The fact is, things grow and enlarge somewhere between the initial shooting on the set & the subsequent viewing in the movie theater. Somewhere in the route of passage a sea change occurs and results that are "rich and strange" emerge. That is the magic of movies and I'll be darned if I can figure out just where it happens. Fortunately, it did happen in STAR TREK: THE MOTION PICTURE. I watched in vain for a telltale sign of those gimcrack sets. Instead, my eyes were greeted with scenes of surpassing grandeur. Now, at the outset, let me explain that because I have resisted the various fevers going around - from Star Trek to Star Wars - that, presumably, I could approach the film with a relatively clear gaze. And yes, I will grant you that some of the film's sequences are just plain routine and fatiguing. Take the long sequence where Ilia has just returned from V'ger (please) and reacquainted with Decker. . . The dialogue is flat, the characters uninteresting, the camera setups head on, the direction listless. Well - and the sequence where the crewmen stand around at the end regarding the returned Voyager and offer their homilies about Life and New Worlds and all that. The dialogue in both instances must bear the burden of the film's message and it sags badly under the strain. That was a problem that has flawed films from Things to Come to Forbidden Planet. Such sequences remind me of a sneaking fear that has been growing in my gut for years now. Science fiction films of the past ten years have been lamentable short of that illusive element called "wonder". There has been hardware and razzle dazzle aplenty. . . but not much else. ST:TMP did what Close Encounters, with all its evasiveness and Star Wars, with all its snappy pace, couldn't do. . . it presented us with such a vast canvas of space that we were reminded of our true relation to the cosmos; we all felt small, a little lost, a little intimidated, even a little sad about it all. And here was where Star Trek made its giant leap off the gimcrack launching pad of the Paramount soundstages. Never has a film conveyed such a sense of the limitless fields of space: the entry into the alien cloud, a sequence that, in the opinion of many, lasts far too long, gave me, for the first time since 2001: A Space Odyssey, that incredible sense of the vastness of space - which is to say that it suggested something of the proportions of imagination itself. Some critics complain that ST:TMP is unemotional and cold. Granted, some of the scenes of human interaction, such as the reunion of the Enterprise crewmembers, seen to come off rather uncertainly. (These are the sequences that my Trek friends seem to enjoy the most) And the long scene between Decker and Ilia after her return from V'ger has all the intensity and conviction of a wet dishrag. But consider other scenes. One is for me the finest thing in the film, the reunion of Kirk with - not a human friend - but with his beloved Starship Enterprise. The long sequence of Kirk's return (with Goldsmith's Olympian music taking the measure of the events) brought tears to my eyes. Certainly, it's a visual marvel, with the orbiting Enterprise being penetrated by Kirk's shuttle as it goes in, around, and through the vast machine. But, more importantly, it is a majestic scene, grand and measured and profound. And all the while, Kirk's stunned gaze dominates the scene: slightly moist, slightly transfixed, it is the gaze of one who loves and who has Come Home. [snipped]. [8]

I liked STTMP. And after seeing it for the second time last night I can safely say, I loved it! And I know I speak for Nikki and Kay when I say that it just keeps getting better. (I think they've seen it at least 10 times between the two of them.) Yesterday, when I was making a rough draft of this column, I was going to admit the movie had a few flaws, but the second time around I found myself enjoying the parts I had disliked the first time around. My biggest complaint had been the special effects. They could have had less of that and more Kirk/Spock/McCoy scenes. But I don't think I could ever get enough of them, and I did like the alien this time. I think the reason I enjoyed it more this time was because the first time I was too nervous. I kept asking myself, is this any good? am I bored? is it a flop? I now heartily recommend that you all go see it at least twice. It just keeps getting better, and we all know that from watching the series. Episodes I didn't much care for have become great favorites with me after several viewings and my favorites are not always very well liked by other fans. So, if you didn't like it the first time, give it another chance. [9]

Behold the starship Enterprise, sailing again through cinema skies.
Her insides are fancy, remodeled and nice,
and furnished with many a new device
designed to awe, delight, and surprise.
She's a ship no Trekkie can recognize.
There's an improvement that must be admitted:
the bridge chairs with thigh-clamps now have been fitted;
when it gets rough (as it often does there),
the captain no longer falls out of his chair.
One rule of Trekking is sure and dependable-
new crew members are always expendable.
Thus Decker and Baldie, who have much appeal,
meet liquidation in the last reel.
The Klingons are made-up as ugly as sin;
Spock is a thrill when at last he walks in;
poor Uhura, despite all the years,
has not progressed far in rank, it appears;
the captain has lost his old midriff bulge;
and there's a dumb ending I shall not divulge. [10]

Okay, EVERYBODY else in the world has expressed themselves on The Movie (excuse me, The Motion Picture), so I will too.


Stood in line half of forever, and acted crazy. (I wasn't acting, but never mind). It seemed so bizarre to be actually preparing to see something we'd been waiting for for TEN years — THINK how long that really is! Think about it! A large portion of my reaction to this film was directly attributable to the effect of being mentally thrown back in time. Within 10 minutes of the beginning, I believe I was hypnotised by the blinkie lights and turned back into a 16 year old.

And I LOVED it! ... I was flaked out enough to feel pathetically grateful for getting out from under grownup problems for a couple of hours. I had a mild run of hysterics in the parking lot after the movie, and alternated laughing wildly at nothing with sobbing all the way back home. Then I spaced out for about two hours, staring off at nothing for no good reason other than remembering some segment of the movie. All of which does not make it a great movie. I really want to go back and see it straight, as it were, so I can get a more objective view of what was going on. But, other than being a bit shy on plot and characterization, it wasn't too bad, and I'm awfully glad I went. [11]

Regardless of the editing of the film, it was still a good movie. After all those years of waiting and reaming, we were bound to be disappointed. The movie wasn't profound, intellectual, or esoteric. It was STAR TREK. Nothing more, and nothing less.


So are all our dreams over now? I hope not. We've come one step further to the 23rd century. We've started the dream all over. The Enterprise will exist, and there may be a Captain Kirk, and there may never be a Mr. Spock. But we can't give up hope. It's our dreams that brought STAR TREK back to us, it's our dreams that named the first space shuttle Enterprise, and it's our dreams that will allow us to me the 23rd century exactly what we want it to be. -- Sharon [12]

Well, the movie is finally with us -- pardon, the "motion picture" is finally with us. What do we do now? For one thing, Paramount will probably not make a second film if this one doesn't gross enough, so get out there and see it!!!!!!. For even though there are some terrible problems with the film, there is always the thought that the next one will be an improvement. -- Elena [13]

1980 Comments: From the Australian Print Zine "Multiverse"

Many fans wrote to Nikki White about the film, and she published some of their responses in Multiverse #2. Some excerpts are below:

[Helen D (AUS)]:

Regarding that 'ST' film, I am bound to admit that the night I went I was practically dead on my feet, ill and exhausted... It's shameful to admit the fact, but I dozed off a couple of times towards the end. Briefly,perhaps half a minute each time but the film was just sooooo drawn out in places. It should go without saying that I am going to see it again but the first time around I was sorely disappointed. It had an interesting storyline but the ending was too abrupt and contrived for my taste. I was left thinking something along the lines of 'Is that all?' It was certainly lovely to see all the old gang together again but for me it all lacked that indefinable lure of the old 'Star Trek'.

Personally, if the new tv series never gets off the ground, it won't worry me particularly. My memories of the old are fonder.

[Charlene F (US)] I stood in line for 3 hours when ST:TMP opened in Seattle, not knowing what to expect (I refused to read anything about it so the plot would not be a give away). When I left the theatre over two hours later, I was partly disappointed. The movie doesn't have the tight action that was so much a part of the TV show and of SW. There are parts that don't stand up in a second viewing (like where the Enterprise skims over the cloud. It is much too long). Some parts of the movie seem like they are out of the blooper reels (i,e, at the very end when Lt. Sulu asks for a course and Kirk says, "Out there. That a way.") but at the same time, there are parts so beautiful, so different that they challenge the imagination and reach a subconscious level (like when Decker and Ilia joined, or when Spock did his mind probe on V'jer). It was like Gene Roddenberry was experimenting with a new type of film.

[Val R (AUS)]:

I'd been concerned for ages that the movie would kill the Star Trek mystique. But now I don't think we've got much to worry about as, true to our Aussie image, we will remain defiant and ignore any intrusion - if there is any - on our cherished ideals. I think ST: TMP had the most severe airing of any movie ever shown, because we were bound to be hypercritical - even in some cases, nitpicking!

Hearing so much controversy about it, I was determined to view it with an open mind - and I thought Mark Lenard's' makeup good — a departure from the series - but good. And I think developing the language, with the resulting subtitles was an excellent idea. The new uniforms didn't bother me too much, as it stands to reason that fashions would've changed somewhat in 10 years!


The story ending concept I liked;, but it all seemed an updated and lengthened TV show, which on the big screen needed action to stop it seeming drain out. (Some people used the word 'boring.'). We were told they weren't going all out for SFX like SW; (which, unfortunately people are going to compare it with), so to balance what they should have had some action and interaction. I blame Robert Wise - a good director he may be, I have no doubt - but he just didn't do his homework and so naturally the results were NOT Star Trek, just another Science Fiction movie, which just happened to have our favourite actors in it!

As you know, the soul of Star Trek is love and the interaction between the characters. There was none of this! The only thing that came anywhere near it was Bones' reaction on coming aboard. Spock should've shown a growing touch of human emotion even if only at the end, shouldn't he? - more especially when he has been rejected by Vulcan for his failure to purge his soul of his human side. Instead, he was pure Vulcan the whole time. And Kirk was SO wooden (But of course, all this was the result of Robert Wise's direction - left to Gene Roddenberry the show would have been a success).

However, I did appreciate the chance to see the Enterprise in dry dock, from all angles. But there was no mention of what had occurred to the famous 7 in the intervening years!... I was told that Bones had become a veterinarian. There wasn't a hint of this. And there certainly wasn't enough motivation for Kirk to act like a little boy in usurping Decker's command. It's sad, because I did want the ordinary man-in-the-street to like it and appreciate it for its intrinsic value and so maybe see what we all feel about it, ST was the pioneer of SFX as we know it but I was disappointed with the matte effects - one was very aware of the outline. This is inexcusable in this day and age.

No one seems to have any enthusiasm and everyone I spoke to seemed to divorce their old ST feelings from the movie and in doing so can remain loyal to Gene Roddenberry's concept.

[Robyn R (AUS)]

The movie ST:TMP is not up to Gene Roddenberry's standards. It is the special effects and optical departments' movie, not an actor's. No one one can doubt the beauty of the Enterprise but...


The three main characters are as cold as ice towards each other. They lack feeling towards one another; there is no sign of their strong bond of mutual trust, respect and loyalty and caring for one another, their friendship which is what got them through their five year mission.


It lacked the humour, fun and enjoyment of the series. James T, Kirk was too serious,Somewhere between the TV series and the making of ST:TMP the original format of the Star Trek story got lost, particularly in the writing of the three key characters.


Captain Kirk acts and behaves irresponsibly at the end. Starship command is a very reliable job with no room for that type of stunt.

[Richard K (US)]: The ending is truly amazing. Roddenberry has pulled off the greatest science fiction saga so far, something more than just the gimmickry of STAR WARS which was nice to look at and listen to, but didn't really have a meaning when the film was over.

[Jenny M (AUS)] I did enjoy the movie. It was definitely Kirk's and McCoy's film. I've seen it three times. Not impressed by the music score apart from the Klingon music, a couple of incidental pieces... Didn't mind Collins and Persis except for the eyes...I nearly went crawling up the wall! It was also interesting counting the number of ways Kirk said 'Spock'! It was a spot the episode film.

[Leonard M (Germany]: I liked it for some reason,or rather I liked the special effects and the movie best, kind of a mixture between Kubrick's 2001 and Close Encounters, no wonder, if you ask me, considering who co-edited STAR TREK. The story itself is a little clumsy and I didn't like that Decker character that much either. Kirk looks fantastic in it as if he hasn't aged a single year but on the other hand Spock seemed to have aged twice as much as in reality - 20 years - he didn't do too fine in I think. There were scenes in which he could have shown a little bit of reflection (that scene when he stepped onto the bridge, and McCoy expresses his feelings towards him), he didn't even turn in the elevator. I was a little disappointed because this scene gave the impression of being forced or something. I enjoyed the scene where the Enterprise accelerates to warp speed,it was brilliantly done, very real. But I feel the movie doesn't keep what we were promised before it was released.

[Denise J (NZ)] Thought the technical brilliance really good but as for the pace and storylihe, a disappointment. I was not really interested in a bunch of wrinklies playing at being the creators of a new race. But it, was good to see all the old ST cast, wrinkles or not.

[Becky A (US)]:

The general consensus from this end of the globe is that the whole plot sucked rocks, to put it mildly. I have contact with about 20 people, I guess, and not one really liked the thing. I think I made a big mistake by reading the book first then going to see the movie... I think that's what pretty well turned me off about the Trek movie.


I audibly groaned t/hen I discovered within the first five minutes of the film that they skipped over the whole lead in of the book and picked up with Kirk coming aboard the Enterprise. Personally, I thought that was one of the highlights of the book.

[Bev C (US)]

I cringed quite a lot at the overacting,particularly Shatner; he made every line seem world-shaking and earth—shattering, and the scene in Sickbay when Spock discovers the value of emotion - which I thought he had already done in "Yesteryear" - was so sentimental as to cause me to sink into my seat until it was over. The science was also bad, especially compared to what ST used to have... I didn't even like the music very much; I thought it was a little too ornate and overwhelming most of the time... I think that in many ways

Roddenberry's biggest mistake with the movie was in catering to the fans; most of the worst sequences in the movie are apparently aimed at the fans, like the Grand Tour of the Enterprise (aside from being boring, this sequence pointed out a serious error in scale between the shuttlecraft and the Enterprise).


... Anyway, this is my reaction to ST: TMP. I loved it! I am well aware of arguments against it—not enough interaction with characters, etc. But on the whole, it

was TREK. I especially was happy to see that Spock developed as the good fanwriters had pro posed (or prophesized?)—he recognized the IDIC in himself and did not deny his dual identity, but rather cherished the variety/differences. He finally saw the logic in using the best of both worlds ...[14]

Now. You have the courage to solicit opinions on ST:TMP? I can just imagine next issue's LoCs! Another one of those long, impassioned controversies is about to start, methinks. It'd be a pity not to contribute my two cents worth.

The question is, I guess, did I or did I not like ST:TMP? I saw it only once. Need I say more? No, but I will anyway. From the very beginning, when they showed those updated, scrumptious Klingons —and then did not bring them back once in the entire movie!!!—to the very grandiloquent, pretentious ending, it STANK.

There. I'll probably get crucified. But I was so MAD! It's not really a very very bad movie. It's just that it's so bland. We expected so much, and got zilch. It showed us exactly what letter campaigns are worth. A letter campaign brought us back "Star Trek" for a third year. It might as well have failed, for that additional year was an embarrassment to the show, and produced very little of value. Another letter campaign 'forced1 the Paramount executives—may bird droppings cover their windshields--to use the 'old' stars instead of the 'new* blood (i.e., 'exciting young stars') it wanted. Or did it?

Most of the old Enterprise crew roles were mere walk-ons. Insults to fine actors who had made the show what it was. Spock looked, acted, talked like a robot—he is a Vulcan, not an android. Kirk, who had a more substantial role ... well, let me put it this way: I would have followed the old Kirk right down to the ninth circle of hell --I wouldn't follow the new one as far as the corner drugstore. He looked boring, pompous, and stiff.

The actors who got the interesting roles were the ones the producers wanted all along: Persis Khambatta and Stephen Collins. The 'yo*ung' ones. I was quite glad when they dissolved into a ball of light; at least it means we won't see more of artifacts, and am sick to death of them. In this case, it just meant that the hardware (a space probe, a couple of human robots, and a gosh-wow ship) got the meaty roles, while the actors we hoped to see sat around twiddling their thumbs. Judging from the performances of the two principles (Shatner & Nimoy), though, it was perhaps just as well. Kirk was ponderous, militaristic, totally lacking in sex appeal (I never thought I'd say this, or even think it)--perhaps the "Space: 1999" costumes had something to do with it. As for Spock—to turn up looking, talking, acting like a reject from "The Night of the Living Dead" and then deliver a spiel on emotion and friendship--bah! For Spock to "find himself" during that extremely dreary mission is the ultimate insult.

It would have been a thousand times better had they made an unpretentious movie about the threat of interstellar war with those lovely Klingons. Instead, they had to sound off about God—and they had to use their 'new blood'. Too bad. Their mistake . Our loss ... [15]

I don't remember who wrote the script. Alan Dean Foster, maybe. It wouldn't surprise me. I don't know how a professional could so easily fall into such an amateur trap. Namely, build up a newcomer's image by making every single person around him (or her) look and sound like an idiot (ref: any MarySue story). Don't you think Kirk would have kept track of the latest technological developments? Don't you think that if he had been desperate to get the Enterprise back' he would have made it his business to know about every little change made in its structure? As an Admiral, he was in a position to learn everything he wanted to. So don't you think he would have known about the weapons adjustments and not made a complete jackass of himself just so that Decker could save the ship and show him up for a senile fool ready for the Old Spaceman's Home? Ah, yes. Decker. I have never cared so little in my life about a character's heartaches as I did about Decker's. Since he was a character without soul or real feelings, why should I have? As for the incredible sexual aura projected by Ilia, I'm still waiting for it. Granted, I'm a woman, but women sense this, too. She came off more like Number 1 than like an Orion slave girl.

Finally, the entire V'Ger plot-line was worn-out, banal, and preposterous. I have read I don't know how many stories of God like computers who turn out to be American. [16]


This long-awaited movie was bound to be a disappointment to some, especially considering all of the expectations and anticipation preceding it. While STAR WARS (with which STTMP is bound to be compared) surprised and delighted everyone by the fact that it was filmed at all, STAR TREK: THE MOTION PICTURE was hoped to be very high class from the beginning. As opposed to the fast action, adventure, and continuous fighting in STAR WARS, STTMP was a mission of peace. Not a shot was fired. Nice for a change, as science fiction movies are often characterized by violence of some sort... us versus "them". The special effects were impressive. Perhaps that's why they spent so much time in viewing these scenes; they were supposed to be awesome and create a sense of wonder, but 10 minutes of viewing the Enterprise was on the borderline of boring. Although money may buy superb special effects, it doesn't seem to purchase a plot to match. The plot could have been contained in an hour-long television episode, being rather slow and simple. An immense object, etc... The moral seems to be: We must have feelings to really live. The Vulcan way, which Roddenberry brought to our attention in the series, and which has been admired by many, is not for us humans. What becomes of the alien, we may never know. To dedicated Star Trek fans, the most important effect of this m movie was bringing the crew back together again, all ready for a new mission. It should revitalize the fanzines, since we now have a good number of years to be filled in, and an outline to go by, provided by the original creator of Star Trek.

The music was a disappointment to me (compared to the STAR WARS track), it had only two long, symphonic themes. The lighting, especially at the beginning, was exceptionally dark. I could hardly see the Klingon ship interiors, the planet Vulcan, or the bridge... after all the work and money they must have put into those sets!

Dr. McCoy seemed to be put in for laughs. At least that was the audience reaction when I watched the movie. (And that treatment of McCoy is typical of Alan Dean Foster in his adaptations of he animated series.) I wish Starfleet could have relaxed its standards a little by this time, as McCoy looked nice with his beard, as did Spock with his long hair.

Bits and pieces: How many of us were waiting to see what happened when Ilia sat down in her new shirt skirt? And she never did! How in the galaxy did the Klingons grow bumps on their noggins in such a short time? Did any face readers notice the similarity between Decker's wide open eyes, and those of Luke Skywalker? And the girl at Epsilon 9 to Leia? And of course, we all noticed that they waited for Spock to come aboard before they finally played the original Star Trek theme! Despite my love for Star Trek, this film rates only a B. A month after seeing the Star Trek movie, and talking about it with other fans, I had to see it again. Even though I wasn't too impressed by the first viewing, I am a loyal Trekker, and wanted to make this the only movie I'd ever gone to twice. I'm glad I did. The second time was twice as good. (And that's not illogical!) Now that I knew the timing, and what to expect, I had more chance to assess and appreciate the details and special effects, to see more of the background scenes instead of concentrating on the main characters, their conversations and expressions. Now I can see why they spent so much on special effects; the engine room, for example. Arid the shuttle docking with the Enterprise was so realistic, I just took for granted that it was really happening out there in space! The long views of the Enterprise and the alien machine-being didn't seem half as long when one was looking at the details rather than impatiently waiting for what happens next. Where were all the fancy aliens that movie magazines have shown us in previews? I looked all over the space port and in the rec room crowd, and didn't see one single Andorian or non-humanoid featured being. The plot was so open and so seemingly simple that it was left to us to interpret it in a variety of ways. There seemed to be visual references to the idea of us being the cause of a new evolved life form. The first view we have of the main body of the alien machine, after coming through the clouded exterior, looks like a giant cell or fertilized egg. Partway over the strange form was a womanlike shape complete with blue fire in the crotch area, over which the Enterprise flew. Freudian students, enjoy! The orifice that the Enterprise is drawn into looks more like an anal sphincter than a camera lens opening. Enough, already, but these thoughts were reinforced by McCoy calling the end result a baby. From the philosophical, religious standpoint, maybe it was our turn to create a god. Although it was originally looking for its creator, with the sacrifice of Decker and Ilia, V'Ger now knows how to reproduce living humanoid life forms. Maybe it will now create an Adam and Eve for some other world and watch them grow and flourish. It did turn into a radiant light as it left; and it certainly held tremendous knowledge and unexplainable power, which is a definition of a god. A new beginning. And our space program was responsible for it all! Yea, NASA.

I mean, this interpretation is more encouraging than supposing that the machine blew a fuse at the final firey scene and disintegrated into space, which is what it looked like from a more earthly viewpoint. The movie did seem to be rather a put down of Vulcan's logic, as a friend pointed out to me. This gigantic logic machine had everything it needed in that line, but was looking for emotions, to really live. As if Roddenberry, having shown us the Vulcan way, now had to prove that it was not the way of it for us. But, this was proven not logically, but with the aid of a Vulcan/human halfbreed and a machine that was created by us in the first place. So much for human logic, if the alien's origin were the machine world, it might have been quite content. [17]

I remember the endless letters to Paramount for any consideration of reviving the show; all my heart, apprehension when news leaks showed us what ST-TMP might be like; joy at the fact that someone listened to fen and that ST-TMP could be a reality; and then something akin to apologetic shame that the movie was less than it should have been. (Just recently I saw the special longer TV version of ST-TMP. What a crime they committed on us by editing out those twelve minutes!) [18]


The movie "captured the imagination (or disdain) of many fans, revived the waning interest of some old-timers, brought new fans into the fold, and gave everyone something new and different to discuss and write stories about. It was the beginning of a new era of Star Trek fandom and fanzines -- the movie era. [19]


Possibly one of the reasons it did not and does not have the impact on me that it does for many of you is simply because I was not feeling the loss of Star Trek when it came out. My rediscovery of TOS, shortly followed by my obsession with Kirk and Spock, came in the early 80’s. Even then, I don’t recall my first viewing of TMP. I know for sure it was not on the big screen because I saw it in a theatre for the first time at a movie marathon about 1990. My overall impression of it is still decidedly lukewarm. I love that it brought Kirk and Spock back to us – what a tragedy it would have been had that not occurred. I love the music and the reverent scenes of the Enterprise in drydock. I do not like the cold interior of the ship or the even colder way the characters are portrayed for most of the movie. Kirk is gorgeous – but what happened to the expressions that we describe so frequently as like a sun going nova? Spock is embarrassingly thin and aged far beyond his years. Yes, Gol can account for this, and maybe if they had seen fit to show us more of the devastation wrought by that solitary time, I could accept it better. There just seemed to be no spark in Shatner’s or Nimoy’s portrayal of Kirk and Spock. Imagination is the only thing (except the “simple feeling” scene) that saves this movie for me. When I am able to imagine through all of the exceptional K/S stories that have evolved from it, then I can enjoy it. I can feel the terrible isolation that both men felt during their separation and can appreciate the wary approach they have toward each other. In fact, I am just now reading “Full Circle” by Killashandra, and am on an emotional roller-coaster as I learn from her just what price the years have exacted from them both. With this kind of imaginative insight, and there are many examples, I am able to say that I do like the first Star Trek movie. [20]

I still don’t think ST: TMP is a very good movie. And I remember feeling so cheated when I realized the plot ripped off The Changeling. If I recall correctly, and I think I do, I ever made a disgusted sort of noise in the middle of the theater when that became obvious. Sacrilege! didn’t matter. There they were, Kirk and Spock, together again, saving the Federation and the rest of the galaxy, too (though the Klingons never would appreciate them, would they?) and, by golly, holding hands, too!... I got the extended version DVD when it came out a few years ago, and while I like it, I don’t know that it really adds much to the movie and my views on it. I have never enjoyed the depiction of Vulcan in any of the movies, and I basically just don’t believe it. Big Red Foot, indeed! Bah!...[note 5] My dear Spock doesn’t look too good in TMP, I don’t think. (I know others might disagree with me!) The makeup is all wrong, in my opinion. I know he’s supposed to look ravaged by the experience at Gol, but in my opinion this doesn’t really come across. [21]


When the movie was released many of us fans had no idea if they had been successful in reuniting the entire cast. This was in the days before the Internet and pre-release reviews and marketing spin. Whenever an actor appeared on screen the crowd would scream wildly. We didn't care that the movie was padded with endless shots of traveling, traveling, traveling, through space. This was our show and it was back and we were watching it together with our people. [22]


. . . [the film] unleashed a shock wave into Trek continuity that changed everything. Before that movie, the fanzines could speculate all they liked about the future of our beloved U.S.S. Enterprise and its valiant crew, but all we knew was what the three seasons of the original TV series had shown us. That series showed us neither the beginning of Captain James T. Kirk’s five-year mission in deep space nor, more importantly, its ending. There was all the room in the galaxy to wonder what those familiar characters were doing – most fans imagined an endless sequence of planet-hopping adventures, and most fans imagined nothing more. Star Trek: The Motion Picture (movie and book) shattered the static peace of such a situation, and it did this by bringing one previously minor element to the fore: time. In the original series, characters had pasts . . . so time was always a background note. But in the new movie, we’re dunked in it: years have passed since the time of the original show’s setting. When the movie opens, Kirk has taken a desk job at Starfleet, and both Spock and McCoy have left the service – and perhaps more importantly, the whole world of those original TV adventures is over: the captain is an admiral, the bridge crew is visibly older, the celebrated five-year mission is completed … time has passed, and unlike in so many sci-fi series, it’s passed inside the story, not just outside it. Fans were slow to adopt this new reality – not just because they weren’t in any way finished with the old reality but also because they weren’t alone in this new one: they had corporate suits as company. Paramount had invested a lot of money in STTMP and its various movie tie-in products – and investments need to be watched by trained, responsible adults. Suddenly Star Trek was too important to be left in the hands of the people who’d safeguarded it all those hopeless years: the fans. This very much extended to the series of Star Trek novels that was given renewed energy (and funding) with the launch of the movie. The movie could clearly stand as the beginning of a franchise, which meant, among other things, that corporate creatures who knew nothing about Star Trek would now have the authority to dictate the very parameters of the concept. You can tell by the book-covers: the drawings of our familiar characters are patterned (traced?) on the appearances in the movie – older, weather-beaten, clearly no longer the same people who went on all those original adventures. A new fictional reality obtained. From a corporate standpoint, the first movie in a new franchise establishes the shape of that reality, the tenor, everything. In STTMP, our heroes re-unite to save the Earth from an alien space probe of awesome power. They succeed, and they all decide to stay on the newly-refitted Enterprise and head out for more space-adventures. In Paramount’s consideration, those future adventures will be movie-adventures, so writers of Star Trek books now faced two huge obstacles: they had to set their novels in the new ‘present’ of the movies, and they couldn’t radically change things without having corporate suits shutting the whole thing down." [This leads into a discussion of Sondra Marshak and Myrna Culbreath's professionally published novels as not conforming to this new reality.][23][note 6]


Having become a Star Trek fan during what I now refer to as the Dead Years -- the period of time between the end of TOS and ST:TMP, when the common wisdom was that ST was well and truly dead -- the news that they were making a movie was beyond thrilling. Under any other circumstances, I would have been there on opening day -- but I was on a gap year abroad. Not only couldn't I see it on opening day, but six months later, I still hadn't seen it. In those days, there was a long delay in opening new films overseas.

On my return to the States, the first question I asked my brother was, of course, "How was the Star Trek movie?" I'll never forget the look on his face. It was kind of like this: [see gif of Spock on original post]

When I finally got to see TMP, I understood that look. Most ST fans wanted so badly to love it. We were trying really hard...and it wasn't all bad, so...but still, it was hard to deny...I mean, we'd been waiting all those years, and they remade The Changeling? could have been worse though...but still, that's it?...that's all we're getting?...really?....

Hence, that look. ^^^^

I didn't realize it at the time, but the idea that was beginning to dawn on me was that it is possible to create something people will love without fully understanding its appeal. That's exactly what Star Trek was to Gene Roddenberry. (Chris Carter and The X-Files is another example...but that's a post for another day.) [24]

Other Dates

A Facebook group was dedicated to this movie was established in 2014, and is located at The Star Trek: The Motion Picture Appreciation Society. In 2019, the group surpassed 6,000 members. An ongoing fan campaign urges Paramount/CBS to consider a high definition (on Blu-Ray or 4K) release for the Director's Edition of the movie. [25]

In 2019, to celebrate the 40th anniversary, many screenings of the 1979 version were organised by Fathom Events across USA. Boutique cinemas in other parts of the world held similar screenings.

Paramount/CBS announced that in 2022, a 4K version of the Director's Edition would launch on the streaming service, Paramount+, for an exclusive period. [26]

Additional Reading


  1. ^ George Takei came out in 2005, but has confirmed that he always played Sulu as straight.
  2. ^ Christine Chapel was a doctor in the final version of the film. In an interview with Starlog (March 1987), she said it was a "very minimal role" and that if someone hadn't called her "Commander Chapel", the audience wouldn't have noticed she was there. They noticed, all right.
  3. ^ As a matter of fact, it wasn't. At the time, that honor went to Star Wars at $410B. Star Trek The Motion Picture grossed $82M in America; $139M worldwide. However, of the pre-2009 Star Trek film series, it remains the highest-grossing film worldwide.
  4. ^ Darlene F. is by no means alone in her assessment of V'ger's design and its Freudian imagery, as Gloria-Ann Rovelstad's review confirms. And James H. Devon's essay "Beneath the Surface: The Surrealistic Star Trek" (Best of Trek 8, p. 24) goes into considerable detail about the psychosexual aspects of the show as a whole and the film in particular, linking them to Surrealist art and the importance of the unconscious. "It is, none too subtly, a mind-enlivened imaginary journey to the sexual center of the subconscious of man."
  5. ^ In the temple scene at Gol, there are a number of gigantic statues in red stone. Spock and the elders stand right underneath one of these statues. In the original film, it looked like this. In the updated version, like this. They are indeed standing right next to a big red foot.
  6. ^ Marshak and Culbreath have spoken about their novel The Fate of the Phoenix as having an ending which was dictated by Paramount and not themselves (see The Fate of the Phoenix#Not Canon, and The Hands of TPTB). In Notes for a Star Trek Bibliography: A New Era Dawns! (April 2, 2012), Donoghue has more to say about the effect of The Motion Picture on Paramount's attitude toward the show and their effort to maintain the franchise in terms of "grey, lockstep consistency" which affected the official Star Trek novels.


  1. ^ from a fan's report in The Clipper Trade Ship #9
  2. ^ Paul Lund, writing in Destiny of Science Fiction 2, Spring 1975.
  3. ^ first comments from Star Trek Nuts & Bolts #14/15, reply in "Star Trek Nuts & Bolts #16
  4. ^ (Accessed June 9, 2019)
  5. ^ Harlan Ellison, "Star Trek: The Motionless Picture", Starlog, April 1980.
  6. ^ Nancy Kippax, read more of The Premiere of Star Trek: The Motion Picture
  7. ^ Darlene F, from Interstate #28
  8. ^ the TreKon 1980 program book, John Tibbets
  9. ^ from Spin Dizzie #3
  10. ^ from Spin Dizzie #3
  11. ^ from Sufan #8 (June 1980)
  12. ^ from The Intergalactic Etcetera #7
  13. ^ from The Intergalactic Etcetera #7
  14. ^ from an LoC in "Warped Space" #45
  15. ^ from an LoC in "Warped Space" #45
  16. ^ from an LoC in "Warped Space" #45
  17. ^ from Enterprise Incidents #16, Gloria-Ann Rovelstad
  18. ^ from a fan in Epsilon Nine Friendship Messages v.7 n.2 (Nov/Dec 1984)
  19. ^ from Boldly Writing, Joan Verba
  20. ^ from The K/S Press #115, Ivy H
  21. ^ from The K/S Press #115, Jenna S
  22. ^ personal notes, Morgan Dawn
  23. ^ Steve Donoghue, Notes for a Star Trek Bibliography: Last Word from the Team! SteveReads, July 14, 2012.
  24. ^ An anniversary by Tamar Wyschogrod (December 7, 2017)
  25. ^ (Accessed June 9, 2019)
  26. ^ (Accessed January 19, 2022)