Trekkies got a big screen gift for Christmas in 1979 with Star Trek: The Motion Picture, the first film made after the 1960s television series concluded 10 years previously.
Creator Gene Roddenberry had lobbied Paramount Pictures to continue the series with a film, but the first attempts to write a screenplay weren’t successful.
But after the success of Star Wars and Close Encounters of the Third Kind, Paramount renewed its interest in a film
Starring the original cast of Bill Shatner, Leonard Nimoy, DeForest Kelley, James Doohan, Nichelle Nichols, Walter Koenig and George Takei, the plot was about now Admiral James T. Kirk and crew reassuming the helm of the updated Starship Enterprise to battle the evil energy cloud – V’Ger.
Kirk takes over the command of the refitted Enterprise to test the new starship and discover what V’Ger is – angering the current captain Willard Decker. The two battle one another in pursuit of V’Ger, with Spock appearing to become the science officer and using his mind meld to discover the V’Ger is a living entity.
At the heart of V’Ger is Voyageur 6, a ship that disappeared years before. Kirk welcomes his original crew back to help him and Decker battle V’Ger, and save Earth from possible destruction.
Released in December 1979, the film received mixed reviews for its uneven action and reliance on special effects. And although it cost $46 million and was 10 years in the making, fans flocked to see the big screen version of their beloved Star Trek – and brought the revenues to over $139 million.
I remember going to the theatre with friends from school to see the movie – excited to see the characters from the tv show on the big screen, even if they did look a lot older.
This film confirmed the devotion of fans to Star Trek and its characters, and launched the film series, which still continues well into the 21st century.