I  Star Trek: The Motion Picture

(release date: December 7, 1979)

Story: Alan Dean Foster     Screenplay: Harold Livingston [with uncredited work by Gene Roddenberry and Jon Povill]
Director: Robert Wise

Lt. Ilia: Persis Khambatta
Klingon Captain: Mark Lenard
Commander Branch: David Gautreaux

Will Decker: Stephen Collins
Alien Ensign: Billy Van Zandt
Lt. Commander Sonak: Jon Rashad Kamal

Chief DiFalco: Marcy Lafferty

Stardate: 7412.6 [or 7410.2, based on a new caption in the Director's Edition]

Captain's Log: A giant energy cloud, vaporizing every vessel in its path, is on a direct course for Earth. Admiral Kirk - for the last two and a half years Chief of Starfleet Operations - takes command of the newly refitted Enterprise, replacing its intended captain, Will Decker. The Enterprise intercepts the cloud, which is surrounding a massive vessel. This vessel pulls the Enterprise inside and absorbs one of the crew, Lt. Ilia, before creating a mechanical version of Ilia to act as a probe. The vessel is in fact a living machine called V'Ger, which is traveling to Earth to meet its creator. It plans on destroying all life on Earth, believing it to be an infestation, but it does not understand why its creator has not responded to V'Ger's signals. Kirk bluffs his way into the very center of V'Ger, where he, Spock, McCoy, and Decker discover a late 20th-century space probe: Voyager 6. Voyager 6 fell into a black hole and emerged near a race of sentient machines, who recognized a fellow machine and repaired Voyager 6 and sent it back to Earth to complete its mission. During its journey, Voyager 6 acquired so much knowledge that it became sentient. In order to fulfill its mission, V'Ger wants to join with its creator, to see if there is more to existence than what it already knows. Decker volunteers to join with V'Ger, and they both disappear in a flash of light, leaving the Enterprise intact and the Earth safe.

Whoops!: In the theatrical version, Vulcan has a giant sister planet and a moon (which contradicts "The Man Trap", if nothing else), while the long shots appear to be at night, despite the live-action shots appearing to be during the day. The travel pod that Scotty and Kirk take is missing from the establishing shot. Some of the shots of Kirk and Scotty in the travel pod's window are pretty ropey (and one of them almost looks like it's in black and white). When Kirk and company emerge from the saucer to walk to V'Ger, the saucer shots (both head-on and from the side) are painfully obvious matte paintings. [These are all fixed or mitigated in the Director's Edition.]
     There are a number of shots where they're using a split focus diopter, trying to keep a foreground object and a background object both in focus at the same time, but because the foreground object isn't that big it looks really bizarre. It's most obvious in the scene when Spock first arrives on the bridge, when Kirk is in shot with the alien ensign behind him to the right of frame, leading to a half-blurred background for no obvious reason. There's also an odd focus issue in the scene where Kirk, Spock, and Decker are conferring in sickbay about what to do with the Ilia probe - part of Kirk's arm is blurred even though it shouldn't be any further back than anything else in focus in the scene.
     When Scotty is ferrying Kirk to the Enterprise, why does he choose to take Kirk the long way around, particularly given that time is apparently of the essence? If the Ilia probe appears in a sonic shower, why is she wet? Do you get cleaned by both sound and water in there? [It's not called a sonic shower in the Director's Edition, potentially suggesting that someone noticed this.] And the Enterprise has photic sonar sensors. Sonar, as in sound, which as everyone knows, doesn't travel through space. [They basically mean something like lidar.]
     The Special Longer Version includes a shot, when Kirk is leaving the airlock to go after Spock, that's very obviously an unfinished set. [There was probably meant to be a painting or background matted in in post that wasn't included when the scene was cut from the theatrical version. It's ridiculously clear it's unfinished in the widescreen version included in the Director's Edition's special features, but it's still very noticeable in the 4:3 broadcast version.] Kirk's also wearing a different space suit in this scene. [That's because this was originally part of the abandoned "Memory Wall" sequence, which was scrapped and replaced with Spock's journey through V'Ger.]
     In the final shot of Spock and McCoy, the two of them have swapped jackets (you can tell by the color of the department band around their arm).

Classic Lines: Decker preparing to join with V'Ger: "Jim, I want this. As much as you wanted the Enterprise, I want this."
     McCoy gets all the best lines though: "Why is any object we don't understand always called a thing?"; "They've probably redesigned the whole sickbay too. I know engineers, they love to change things"; and, after Kirk asks if McCoy likes the new sickbay, "It's like working in a damn computer center."

Cringe Lines: McCoy explains the Vulcan ritual of Kolinahr to Spock in a clunky piece of exposition: "It's the Vulcan ritual supposed to purge all remaining emotions."

Technobabble: The Enterprise has space matrix restoration coils in Engineering.

Don't Wear a Red Shirt: Not counting all the people killed on the Epsilon IX station or Klingon ships, we see Commander Sonak and another Enterprise crewmember killed in a transporter accident. Ilia is killed when V'Ger's probe absorbs her (although V'Ger later creates a mechanical replica of her), while Spock gets shocked by the probe. He also experiences neurological trauma after mind melding with V'Ger. Chekov gets shocked and badly burned after V'Ger's first attack on the ship. <There are also eleven minor injuries in sickbay when the Enterprise is pulled into the heart of V'Ger.>

Alien Love: Prior to events here, Decker and Ilia had been in a relationship when Decker was stationed on Ilia's home planet of Delta IV.

Library Computer: [NB: Somewhat uniquely, The Motion Picture has three different commercially available versions: the original theatrical release, the Director's Edition from 2001, and the "Special Longer Version", originally created for TV broadcast in 1983 and then available on home video through the VHS era. In order to make it clear what pieces of information come from where, anything not in brackets is from the theatrical release, anything in { } is from the Director's Edition but not the theatrical version, and anything in < > is found only in the Special Longer Version.]
     Admiral Kirk is now the chief of Starfleet Operations, a position he's held for the last two-and-a-half years, after having completed the five-year mission aboard the Enterprise. [Despite the fact that ten years have passed in the real world, the implication is that in-universe it's only been 2½ years, the amount of time that Kirk's been an Admiral - note the way he argues that he still has familiarity with the Enterprise and her crew, which would be a much harder claim to make if too much time had passed since the end of the five-year mission.] He hasn't commanded a starship in all that time. Physically he looks more or less the same, although his hair is a bit darker and noticeably more curly. He uses the V'Ger emergency to take back command of the Enterprise. He's still pretty much the same personality-wise, although his taking command from the previous captain, Will Decker, initially makes him a bit more competitive and on edge than he might otherwise be.
     Spock, following the five-year mission, returned to Vulcan, seemingly permanently. There he trained in the mental discipline of Kolinahr, a ritual designed to purge all remaining emotion. However, while on Vulcan, Spock became aware of a powerful consciousness, with exactingly perfect thought patterns. This consciousness touched the human side of Spock, meaning he had not truly achieved Kolinahr. Spock then chose to rendezvous with the Enterprise in order to get closer to the consciousness, which turned out to be V'Ger. When he came aboard, he was wearing a black robe with large flowing script [presumably Vulcan] down his right front side. Spock initially seemed much more severe and withdrawn compared to his behavior during the five-year mission. [This could be due to his sensing of V'Ger, his Kolinahr training, or both.] However, after he initiated a mind meld with V'Ger, Spock noticeably became less detached, even smiling a bit as he discussed with Kirk simple physical contact and V'Ger's inability to understand it. {Following this mind meld, Spock knew that emotion had a purpose, that there was more to existence than just logic and knowledge; consequently, he shed a tear for V'Ger, who could not understand this.} At the end of events, Spock chose to remain in Starfleet, rather than return to Vulcan. When Spock boarded the Enterprise, his Starfleet commission was reactivated and he was made science officer. His name in Vulcan sounds more like it rhymes with the word "loch" (so, [spɑx] in the International Phonetic Alphabet). [Compare this with the idea in "This Side of Paradise" that Spock's Vulcan name is unpronounceable by humans; perhaps Spock means his full name is unpronounceable.]
     Dr. McCoy had retired from Starfleet after the end of the five-year mission, swearing that he would never return. However, Admiral Nogura, at Kirk's request, invoked a "little known, seldom-used reserve activation clause" in order to bring McCoy back. During his time away from Starfleet McCoy had grown a large, full beard, but he shaved it off once he resumed his duties aboard the Enterprise. He's now a commander, and he's not happy with the remodelled sickbay. Prior to V'Ger, it had been a long time since he'd delivered a baby. [Perhaps not since Leonard James Akaar in "Friday's Child"?]
     Commander Scott has spent the last eighteen months helping to oversee the refit of the Enterprise. He's grown a rather fetching mustache since the last time we saw him. His hair has started to turn silver.
     Uhura is still the communications officer. She's now a lieutenant commander. {She believes that Kirk's taking command means that their chances of returning from the mission alive may have doubled.}
     Sulu has also been promoted to lieutenant commander. He's still the Enterprise helmsman. <He's highly attracted to Ilia. [The implication is that Deltan women are incredibly attractive - perhaps due to some pheromone they excrete?]>
     Chekov has been promoted to lieutenant. He's now in charge of weapons and security aboard the Enterprise.
     Janice Rand is now a chief. We see her operating the transporter.
     Chapel is now an MD [Doctor of Medicine], as well as a lieutenant commander. She's seen working alongside McCoy in sickbay.
     Will Decker was a tall Caucasian male with blonde hair and blue eyes. He was assigned the command of the Enterprise and oversaw the ship's refit, but he was temporarily demoted from captain to commander when Kirk took command, and he was made the Enterprise's executive officer instead (and science officer, until Spock arrived). Decker was recommended for command of the Enterprise by Kirk, who told Decker how envious he was and how he'd hoped to get another starship command; it was to be Decker's first command. Decker often butted heads with Kirk, although not to an unprofessional level; nevertheless, Kirk felt like Decker was competing with him. [It's been suggested that Decker is the son of Commodore Matt Decker from "The Doomsday Machine"; there's no on-screen evidence for this, but it is something the production team treated as a likely possibility.] Some years earlier, Decker was stationed on the planet Delta IV; there, he had a relationship with now-Lieutenant Ilia, which ended when Decker left Delta IV without saying goodbye. [With hindsight, this is a clear forerunner of the relationship between Riker and Troi on The Next Generation - and note the similarity between the names "Will Decker" and "Will Riker".]
     Lt. Ilia was a native of Delta IV (sometimes called just Delta). She had pink skin, dark brown eyes, and was completely bald. Her oath of celibacy is on record, <and she would never take advantage of a sexually immature species such as humanity.> Ilia was the navigator of the Enterprise, and, as noted, had had a prior relationship with Decker. {She had the ability to remove [physical] pain from someone who had been injured (in this case, Chekov), by making physical contact with the injured person and then concentrating.} She had sometimes worn a beaded brown headband on Delta, with a flower-like decoration on the front. <She was wearing this headband when she first met Decker.> Ilia was absorbed by an intense plasma probe sent from V'Ger; she was subsequently replaced by a probe from V'Ger which looked identical to Ilia, save for a glowing red jewel at the base of her neck - a sensor-transceiver combination recording events on the Enterprise. This probe was designed to observe and record the normal functioning of the crew on the Enterprise (and to more easily communicate with them), and every body function was exactly duplicated, including every exocrine system and even eye moisture. However, this duplicate was machine-based, built with micro-miniature hydraulics, sensors, osmotic micro-pumps, and molecule-sized multi-processor chips. Due to the exact duplication, even Ilia's memory patterns were duplicated, although ultimately this didn't appear to make a big difference to events [other than perhaps making Decker more amenable to joining with V'Ger]. The Ilia probe referred to the people on the Enterprise as "(name)-unit" (e.g., "Kirk-unit").
     Commander Sonak was a Vulcan Starfleet officer who was intended to be the Enterprise's new science officer - a position that he had been recommended to by Admiral Kirk. However, Sonak died in a transporter accident, due to an equipment failure aboard the Enterprise. Sonak was the only person (besides Decker) to be fully rated on the new Enterprise design as a science officer.
     There are a number of alien species serving aboard the Enterprise. There's an ensign on the bridge with a high-domed forehead and wispy hair, with striking yellow eyes. [According to Robert Fletcher, who designed the alien, this is a Rhaandarite.] We also see a number of aliens during the big rec room scene, including Vulcans; Andorians; a lizard-like Saurian; someone with blue skin and a strange nose, looking like it's peeling away [this is a Betelgeusian, according to behind-the-scenes materials]; and someone with a large domed head, wearing some sort of glasses and breathing mask [a Zaranite, according to Robert Fletcher].
     The Enterprise has undergone a refit since the last time we saw her; the ship has the same basic shape, but the details are different: the engineering section (the cylindrical part at the "base" of the ship) is fatter, with an inset, light-up blue (gold/orange when not lit) deflector in place of the old gold dish; the warp nacelles have been flattened into rectangular shapes, which also light up blue on the side facing in; the nacelles are attached by struts that now taper back from the engineering section, instead of being perpendicular to it; the saucer is slightly larger in diameter; and there's a dedicated torpedo launcher at the base of the strut connecting the saucer to the engineering section. [There are lots of smaller changes (font, lighting, etc.), but these are the main differences.] The impulse engines are located at the rear of the saucer section. [This may have been true for the original Enterprise as well, but we never saw any evidence one way or the other in the original series.] The redesign and refit process took 18 months, and the process isn't quite complete as of the beginning of events here.
     The interior of the ship has also been completely overhauled. The layout of the bridge is similar to the original, but with some differences: the turbolift has been moved further to the rear (if the original was at 8 o'clock (with the viewscreen at 12), the new location is closer to 7), with a second turbolift on the other side (at about 5 o'clock). The science station has moved to directly behind the captain's chair, while communications has moved to the captain's left, next to the turbolift (at 8 o'clock). There's now a dedicated weapons console at the left front of the bridge (between 10 and 11 o'clock), and there's a glowing green dome suspended over the bridge. [Perhaps this is the automatic bridge defense system, as seen in "Beyond the Farthest Star".] The basic color scheme of the bridge has changed as well: it's now white, grey, and beige, rather than black and orange. The arms of the bridge chairs can now fold in, thus providing a bit of restraint for when the ship is tossed around.
     Engineering now has a glowing blue-white cylindrical tube running down the center of the room, with offshoots at 90 degree angles, heading into another, oval-shaped chamber. [This is the warp core.] Engineering has many levels, with a small elevator running between them; the upper levels have a transparent floor, while the warp core runs through the center of all of them. The corridors are also different, being much smaller and no longer rectangular but instead vaguely human-shaped (fatter in the center, angled in slightly at the top and bottom), lined with what looks like brushed metal. Quarters are much more spacious (Kirk's quarters - located on level 5 - are large enough to have a second room, separated by smoked-glass sliding doors). The quarters include sonic showers [not called as such in the Director's Edition]; this is a small vertical cylinder that glows purple and white as it operates. The transporter room has been redesigned somewhat; the main difference is that the transporter controls are now in a booth, separated from the main transporter chamber by a transparent partition. The transporter beam itself, while still "dissolving" the transportee in a sparkling light show, is now contained in a bright blue cylindrical beam that runs from the overhead pad to the floor pad. Boosting the matter gain is potentially a way of overcoming difficulties with the transporter.
     There's an officers' lounge with lots of orange couches and such. There's also a large recreation room, with a giant viewscreen and filled with games and couches, as well as five drawings of previous Enterprises - a sailing ship; a naval aircraft carrier; a space shuttle; a small ship with large round rings with a slender cylinder attached to the center of the rings, projecting out from the center; and the current Constitution-class refit starship. [The weird ring ship is an early rejected version of the Enterprise by Matt Jefferies; close-ups of the painting used in the movie reveal it to have the registry number XCV 330 - this is visible in the painting itself, but not on screen. Other paintings of this ship show up in the Enterprise episodes "First Flight" and "Home", while a model is visible in Admiral Marcus's office in Star Trek Into Darkness.] One of the games in the recreation room is a floor-based game, with lights that flash along a long panel which stretches away from the player, while another game is a tabletop device that involves placing your hands on panels that cause a series of crystals to rise slightly. This game was one that Lt. Ilia enjoyed; she usually beat Will Decker when they played each other.
     Airlock 4 is located on the underside of the Enterprise saucer; it's filled with thruster suits. There's also a hatch on the top front of the saucer that people can pass through if necessary.
     <The crew complement of the Enterprise is 431. [This is based on the numbers provided as the ship approaches the heart of V'Ger; this number therefore presumably includes Spock but not Ilia.]>
     The uniforms have undergone a drastic revision. Broadly speaking, there are three basic designs: an all-in-one jumpsuit, a two-piece long-sleeve shirt and slacks, and a two-piece short-sleeve shirt and slacks. There are slight variations in collars: a flat version, a V-neck version, and a version with a turnover collar. We see four basic colors of uniform: white, blue-grey, beige, and brown. There doesn't seem to be any particular rhyme or reason as to who wears what color, although we see Sulu, Uhura, and Chekov in beige, while Kirk, Spock, Decker, Ilia, and sometimes Scotty are in blue-grey. [The plan apparently was for the colors to correspond broadly to rank: command-level personnel would be in blue-grey, beige for commissioned officers below commander, brown for non-commissioned officers (such as Chief Rand), and white for technicians and medical personnel. However, this wasn't followed very closely - Ilia's uniform being only the most obvious exception.] The long-sleeve versions display rank as in the original series, with the addition of Kirk's admiral rank: three braids right up next to each other to make one thick braid, with a fourth braid separated from the other three, a bit further up the sleeve. The short-sleeve versions move the ranks to epaulets on the shoulder, with the rank insignia on the front of the epaulet: they still generally follow the same design as the braids on the long-sleeve versions, with the exception that admiral is represented by an eight-pointed star, the NCO rank chief is a hollow square, and captain is two solid lines and then a dashed line (rather than solid-dashed-solid, as on the sleeves). [The dashed lines on the epaulets are very thin, such that it's generally pretty difficult to actually make them out on screen.] All the uniforms have the shoes built into the pants of the uniform, and they all have a special black monitoring device where a belt buckle would be.
     Additional uniforms that we see include a two-tone version with a white torso and grey sleeves and slacks with a gold metal assignment patch, worn by Admiral Kirk; a wrap-around-like jacket with a black undershirt; a heavy-duty white (or sometimes red) engineering suit, with a large black collar and a light in the chest, surrounded by large concentric rings, accompanied by thick white gloves and helmets with tinted glass; a thicker white suit with some sort of device on the front (this is on a couple background performers in the big rec deck scene); a red thick vest (rather like American football-style shoulder pads with longer fronts) with a red protective helmet but no visor (rather like old-style American football helmets), worn by security personnel; and some pale gold landing party jackets with big pockets and a rank insignia around the left upper arm, worn over standard uniforms. [These are more than a little reminiscent of the landing party jackets seen in "The Cage".]
     We see some thruster suits, consisting of space suits (one orange, one white) with an emergency evacuation thruster pack attached to the back, with two arms extending forward past the wearer. The thruster pack controls could be operated via a control on the left arm of the device; the burn duration was 10 seconds and once ignited could not be aborted, but prior to that moment could be cancelled by flipping the control arm up. [The thruster instructions aren't present in the Director's Edition.] The thruster could be jettisoned once all the fuel was used up.
     Some devices have undergone upgrades as well. The phasers are largely the same, although now they're a blue grey in color and a bit more streamlined. The tricorder is now a handheld device, with a top that folds open to create a T-shaped object, and grips on the sides of the device. Instead of handheld communicators, crew now wear communicators on their wrists, held in place by a simple clamp.
     The Enterprise arrowhead appears on all the Enterprise crewmen (except Drs. McCoy and Chapel, who're sometimes seen with a pale green caduceus instead of the arrowhead) and on the personnel we see at Starfleet Headquarters, but the personnel aboard the Epsilon IX station have their own assignment patch [in keeping with what we saw during the original series] - an equilateral triangle with rounded corners, with a circle inscribed in the triangle with a vertical bar and a semicircle overtop the bar in the circle [a stylized communications dish]. The symbol inside the arrowhead no longer denotes a particular division; instead, all the arrowheads have the starburst inside them. These grey arrowheads are overlaid on a round circle, and it's the color of the circle that determines the specific department of the wearer: white for command, orange for sciences, pale green for medical, red for engineering, gold for operations (communications, helm, and navigation), and grey for security.
     The Klingons have undergone a massive change in appearance. Their ships look more or less the same as before from the outside, but now we get a look inside; it's very industrial-looking, with lots of shadows, steam, and hard angles. The captain is seated in the center of the bridge, but his crew is behind him, working at consoles. We also see some examples of Klingon script: the characters are very angular and pointy, rather like cuneiform by way of fangs. But it's the Klingons themselves that are the most different; the most obvious difference is that they're now largely bald, with very prominent ridges running from their nose up to the top of their head. These Klingons all have long hair on the sides and back of their heads and bushy facial hair [compare with the more stereotypically Oriental facial hair of the original series Klingons], and they're dressed in thick padded armor: dark grey plating over a black leather outfit, with a big belt buckle and large clunky boots with a huge curved spike coming up from the toes. The Klingon captain is also wearing a sash. [No explanation is given here for why the Klingons look so different; we'll have to wait until 2005 and the Enterprise episodes "Affliction" and "Divergence", for the in-universe explanation. This look remains the definitive one for the Klingons up to Star Trek: Discovery, where the design gets tweaked some.] We also hear Klingons speaking in (presumably) their native language for the first time; it's a harsh, gutteral language. One of the ships we see is the Imperial Klingon Cruiser Amar; it and its fellow ships are destroyed by a powerful plasma weapon fired by V'Ger. [The name of the ship isn't in the Director's Edition.]
     V'Ger is a living machine: it's a massive object, {at least seventeen kilometers long (as DiFalco says the Enterprise has penetrated that far into V'Ger),} roughly cylindrical, with six large spikes emerging from the center of the vessel. <[Well, we say "it", but the Ilia probe calls V'Ger "he" in the Special Longer Version.] Uhura says it could hold a crew of tens of thousands, while McCoy suggests it could hold a crew of a thousand ten miles tall.> One end has some fins surrounding the cylinder. At the other end is a large opening that the Enterprise can be pulled into. The look of the vessel is rather organic. [The theatrical version doesn't provide more than a general impression of what V'Ger looks like, but the Director's Edition gives us a couple clear looks at it.] V'Ger could block communications from the Enterprise while the ship was inside V'Ger. V'Ger is surrounded by an energy field measuring twelfth power, <greater than the radiation of Earth's sun;> this is very impressive, as thousands of starships couldn't generate that much power. This energy cloud measured over 82 AUs across {a less ludicrous 2 AUs in the Director's Edition}, and it was a glowing dark blue in color. Traveling through the energy cloud showed a lot of strange and unusual energy patterns. V'Ger emitted plasma-like balls of energy, which could absorb any objects V'Ger encountered, allowing it to store them as data. V'Ger could also send plasma energy probes to a vessel, letting it scan that vessel's computer banks and absorb objects as needed; this probe manifested itself as an intensely bright column of light. In addition, V'Ger could also create probes that mechanically mimicked carbon-based life forms, in order to communicate more easily with them. V'Ger was sending out communication requests, but at such a high speed and frequency {- a frequency of more than a million megahertz and a speed of only a millisecond for the entire message -} that they weren't immediately obvious as communication attempts, while the Federation's communication efforts were too primitive to be recognized by V'Ger. [This "primitive" line is missing from the Director's Edition.]
     V'Ger was heading to Earth in order to find and join with its Creator, which it believed was a machine. <V'Ger viewed this joining as a form of survival.> It thought mechanical life was the ideal form of life, and it viewed "carbon units" as not being true life forms. Consequently, it planned to destroy the biological "infestation" on Earth via a series of extra-powerful plasma energy balls, spread equidistantly around the planet; it could also render planetary defense systems inoperative. As V'Ger approached Earth, its surrounding energy field dissipated. Spock was able to mind meld with V'Ger, although the amount of power that poured through the mind meld led to some neurological trauma for Spock in the pons area of his brainstem. After Kirk convinced V'Ger that it had information about V'Ger's creator but which could only be delivered directly to V'Ger, V'Ger was able to create an "oxygen-gravity envelope" around the Enterprise and a pathway from the ship's saucer to the central chamber of V'Ger, allowing people to proceed on foot to the heart of V'Ger.
     V'Ger was in fact the old NASA space probe Voyager 6, which had been launched over 300 years ago. [As always, see "Where No Man Has Gone Before" for more on when the original series is set, but note that this is the first real evidence that these stories take place in the 23rd century - although this suggests it's actually closer to the early 24th century, given when Voyager 6 presumably launched. But maybe it's just that Decker's off-the-cuff math is slightly wrong.] Voyager 6's mission was to collect all data that was possible and learn what was learnable and then return that information to its creator. Contact was lost when Voyager 6 fell into "what they used to call a black hole". It emerged on the far side of the galaxy and fell into the gravity well of a planet inhabited by machines. The machines recognized a kindred spirit in Voyager 6 and thus built it a massive vessel so that it could carry out its programming. During its return journey (during which it eventually passed through Klingon space), it encountered a huge number of different objects and planets, which it stored images of inside its vessel. Kirk theorized that during its return journey it acquired so much knowledge that it achieved consciousness, becoming a living machine, and subsequently it wanted to meet its Creator, to learn if there was more to life than just the universe; this was partially because as a machine, it had no emotion or ability to think illogically and thus couldn't conceive of anything beyond the universe. The response code for Voyager 6, to instruct it to transmit its data, was 5-0-4, 3-2-9, 3-1-7, 5-1-0, followed by a final sequence; this code was sent via a simple binary code over a carrier radio wave. V'Ger melted its own antenna leads to avoid receiving the final sequence; this way, its Creator would be forced to manually key in the sequence, thus allowing V'Ger to meet and join with its Creator. Decker volunteered to be the one to join with V'Ger, and so he and V'Ger (in the form of the Ilia probe) joined together in a sparkling light show, ending with V'Ger disappearing. [The suggestion is that the new V'Ger-Decker being moved to one of the higher dimensions mentioned earlier, but this is deliberately left ambiguous. Spock states that this was the birth of a new lifeform, but we don't know that for certain.] Following the disappearance of V'Ger, Kirk instructed Uhura to list Decker and Ilia not as casualites but rather as "missing".
     Starfleet Headquarters is located on Earth, near San Francisco. The Golden Gate Bridge still exists. We see some wedge-shaped shuttles in Starfleet HQ. [This is the first time by air/release date Star Trek has spent any time on or near 23rd-century Earth.] In orbit above Earth is a space station, consisting of four long tubes, with a semispherical dome on the bottom. Slightly above the dome is a complex of rings, extending from the central shaft at a right angle. On the Office Level, there's a travel pod at Port 5; this travel pod is a small pod with a big window in the front and a circular docking port at the back. It can take you to a "dry dock" (basically just a skeletal box with a solid roof) where a starship (such as the Enterprise) may be located.
     Comm station Epsilon IX was a large, flat station, vaguely resembling a bunch of hexagons put together to form a vaguely person-shaped structure, with a thin middle section, two large hexagonal pieces at one end and two thinner pieces jutting out at the opposite end, slightly below the "head" of the station. Epsilon IX was commanded by Commander Branch, a Caucasian male with dark hair and pale eyes. [This is David Gautreaux, who was cast as Spock's replacement Xon during the month or two when this was a TV show instead of a movie and Leonard Nimoy refused to return.] We also see a young Caucasian female lieutenant and a black male technician working there, among a few other people. Epsilon IX station and its crew were wiped out by V'Ger, but not before warning the Federation that V'Ger was coming.
     The region of Vulcan seen here is very active volcanically, with lots of smoking volcanoes and open lava pools. There's also a very prominent planet in the sky, with a smaller moon in front of it; both of them are moving very fast. {This has all been toned down in the Director's Edition; the planet and moon are gone, and it's now a mountainous desert landscape, with no volcanoes or lava pools around.} There's a prominent, glowing red statue at the place where Spock meets with the Vulcan Kolinahr masters, standing in front of a building of some kind that appears to have been carved out of the side of a mountain. {We get more defined statues in the Director's Edition. We can see four of them flanking this structure; one of them is prominently holding a lirpa ("Amok Time").} The primary master is an old woman, dressed in thick white robes and wearing a loose head scarf, while she's flanked by two Vulcan men, both in darker robes; the man to the woman's right is completely bald and dressed in black robes, with a black ornate tabard over them, while the man to her left has a dusty white ornate tabard instead. We hear some Vulcan language; it sounds similar to a human language.
     Kolinahr is the Vulcan ritual designed to purge all remaining emotion. According to the Vulcan elder, it was the attainment of Kolinahr that saved the Vulcan race, as they cast aside their "animal passions". The symbol of total logic that represented the attainment of Kolinahr was a necklace with a large horizontal bar, from which hung a translucent red triangle inset with a much smaller copper triangle, with a thick copper bar with two small vertical red bars on top of the copper bar hanging below the triangle, and a large red hexagon next to the triangle/copper bar pendant.
     The Surak is a long-range Vulcan shuttle, consisting of a small, wedge-shaped shuttle attached to a "warp sled" consisting of two warp engines, combined at the back by a simple rectangular bar that rises up above the engines; this bar is where the shuttle portion attaches. The Surak is a pale lavender in color. [This is the first time we've seen a Vulcan vessel on Star Trek.]
     The ship's engines have been redesigned; consequently, they hadn't been properly tested as of stardate 7412.6. A matter/antimatter imbalance created a "wormhole" when the Enterprise entered warp - a red swirling tunnel that rendered the helm controls aboard the ship inoperable, and which the ship couldn't properly escape from, except by waiting for the ship to slow to sublight speeds; this wormhole appeared to slow down time while inside. An asteroid was pulled into the wormhole with the Enterprise; fortunately, they were able to destroy the asteroid before it could collide with the ship.
     The refitted Enterprise increases phaser power by channeling it through the main engines; however, if the engines go into matter/antimatter imbalance, the phasers become inoperative.
     Admiral Nogura is a Starfleet admiral with a reputation for not being easily swayed; nevertheless, Kirk convinced him to let him take command of the Enterprise during the V'Ger incident, due to Kirk's experience dealing with unknowns during the Enterprise's five-year mission, and his familiarity with the crew of the Enterprise.
     There is a U.S.S. Columbia, which is a scout with registry number NCC-621. On stardate 7411.4, the Columbia was due to rendezvous with the scout U.S.S. Revere (NCC-595) by order of Commodore Probert. [Some claim the stardate given here is 7011.4, but it's indistinct enough that the voice could either be saying "oh" or "four". 7411.4 would be more consistent with the subsequent stardates.]
     Engaging warp drive inside the solar system is considered to be a dangerous maneuver.
     The Enterprise has photic sonar sensors. The officers' quarters are located on deck 5.
     {Starfleet Order 2005 is the self-destruction of a starship. Scotty is confident that when that much matter and antimatter combine, the resulting explosion would also destroy V'Ger.}
     Dalaphaline is a medical drug. Five cc's of it can help Spock resume his duties after his mind meld with V'Ger.

Final Analysis: "Mr. Scott, an alien object of unbelievable destructive power is less than three days away from this planet. The only starship in interception range is the Enterprise. Ready or not, she launches in twelve hours." Sometimes nicknamed The Motionless Picture due to its slow pace, but this misses the point a bit: this isn't an answer to Star Wars, but rather an epic SF picture in the vein of 2001; consequently, being able to take it all in as it slowly unfolds is the point. The three versions don't differ that much from each other, and the Director's Edition's updated effects are generally appropriately in keeping with the surrounding visuals - it's not the vast gulf in appearance that we got in TOS Remastered. It's a shame that the Special Longer Version isn't available on a modern format, however (or, ideally, a widescreen version, with perhaps the unfinished Kirk shot appropriately matted), as it may be the best version; it introduces some much needed character moments that the other two versions lack, balancing the human qualities with the effects shots a little better. But the focus of all three is the spectacle, of conveying the immensity and incomprehensibility of V'Ger; in that respect, this sometimes feels more like the emphasis on SF that we saw way back in "The Cage", rather than the more action-focused show that Star Trek later became, and while it may be a bit overlong, the pace helps captures the scale and awesomeness of V'Ger in a way that a faster version just wouldn't be able to achieve. The Motion Picture is thus perhaps easier to admire than to adore, but it's certainly not without its moments. And the ending is fabulous.


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Page originally created: September 20, 2019
Page last updated: February 17, 2021

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