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Comparing The Three Versions of Star Trek: The Motion Picture

Is there a definitive version of Star Trek: The Motion Picture at last? We compared all the different versions of this misunderstood movie to find out.

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The Starship Enterprise in Star Trek; The Motion Picture

Some 44 years after it went into production, Star Trek: The Motion Picture is finally complete.

We don’t say that frivolously. Star Trek: The Motion Picture is one of Hollywood’s most famous “unfinished” films. Rushing to meet a December 7, 1979 release date, with many of the visual effects being completed right up until the last possible minute by Douglas Trumbull (who had replaced the previous VFX supervisor), director Robert Wise ( The Day the Earth Stood Still , The Sound of Music ) pretty much just stopped working on the film, carrying the first available print on a plane to the movie’s Washington D.C. premiere.

The complicated story of how ST: TMP – the first major motion picture based on an existing TV series — was developed, written, filmed, and released is a long, winding one that has been told before. It’s also well-known that the original theatrical version of the film – the one that Wise had to deliver finished or not – was not well-received by either fans or critics, although it became a sizable box office success.

Yet Star Trek: The Motion Picture steadily grew in stature over the years, gradually beginning to hold its own with fans even as later favorites like Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan and Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home ascended to the top of the franchise.

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With fans and even critics constantly reappraising the original film, Paramount Pictures – with the encouragement of two members of Robert Wise’s production company, David C. Fein and Michael Matessino – allowed Wise and his team to revisit the movie in 2001, reconstructing it to finally adhere more closely to Wise’s original vision.

The release of Star Trek: The Motion Picture – The Director’s Edition in November 2001 on home video (DVD and VHS) confirmed for many fans that there was a far better film after all hidden inside the “rough cut” (Wise’s own words) released in 1979. Scenes were excised or trimmed, a few were reinstated, and most importantly, the visuals were spruced up with the help of CGI. The legendary Wise, who passed away four years later in 2005, got the chance to finish the movie the way he wanted.

But the story wasn’t over yet.

Star Trek: The Motion Picture Reborn

Earlier this year, Paramount+ premiered a 4K Ultra HD (high definition) version of Star Trek: The Motion Picture – The Director’s Edition . Prepared over the course of six months by Fein, Matessino, and a visual effects team with access to Paramount’s archives, this iteration of ST: TMP stayed true to the vision established by Wise for The Director’s Edition in 2001, while doing a further, extensive, HD restoration and upgrade of the entire film.

Now the Ultra HD Director’s Edition , along with 4K Ultra HD versions of the original theatrical cut and the “Special Longer Version” that was created for broadcast television in 1983, are available in a newly released set called The Complete Adventure , which gives us a definitive document of Star Trek: The Motion Picture in all three versions, looking perhaps the best they’ll ever look ( The Director’s Edition is also available on its own or as part of a set containing Ultra HD upgrades of all six films starring the original Trek cast).

Having seen the film in its original theatrical release, then on VHS, DVD, and Blu-ray, we were always put off by the seeming drabness of the image and the colors. To our eyes, Star Trek: The Motion Picture – despite the occasionally awe-inspiring visuals it did manage to pull off against all odds – never seemed to pop off any screen or medium we watched it on.

That problem is now solved, and overpoweringly so: the film in 4K Ultra HD looks absolutely magnificent, as if we’re truly seeing the film for the first time.

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Yes, many of the VFX have been digitally enhanced or even freshly recreated, but they’re integrated almost seamlessly into the original aesthetic of the film, while many of the rough spots in the original release have been repaired or replaced. Now the 4K image really does leap off the screen in amazing color and detail. To watch Star Trek: The Motion Picture in this way is to watch a 44-year-old science fiction movie that looks in many ways like it was made last year.

And now that all three versions of the movie are here in this beautiful, pristine form, which one holds up the best and do they differ?

The Original Theatrical Cut

It may look better than it ever has, but the original theatrical cut of Star Trek: The Motion Picture still has all the issues it had when it first came out. It’s slow-moving to the point of being inert, it spends way too much time on endless visuals (the first sight of the refurbished Enterprise , the lengthy flyover of the massive V’Ger spacecraft – heck, even Spock’s neck-pinch of some poor slob guarding an airlock takes way too long), and it leaves certain plot information and character motivations ambiguous at best and absent at worst.

What ST: TMP does retain is a sense of grandeur, and occasionally a sense of wonder, that often marked the best of the original series and has been sadly lacking in so much filmed science fiction ever since, including later Trek movies and TV series.

So many of the later movies – especially the J.J. Abrams-conceived Kelvin trilogy , but some of the classic and Next Generation films have the same problem – revolve around fairly simple bad guy/revenge motifs.

The original series had its share of those simple action-adventure episodes, but so much more of it was dedicated to great ideas – whether it be truly alien encounters, mirror universes, or moral quandaries posed by the Enterprise sticking its saucer in a new planet’s business.

And yes, even though Star Trek: The Motion Picture is in some ways a rewrite of the original series episode “The Changeling,” it’s much more expansive and even cosmic in its implications. While several later Trek films are superior in many ways, few of them have matched ST: TMP in its ambitions and pure science fiction concepts.

The acting is inconsistent, to say the least, although all our old favorites each have a memorable moment or two, and the glacial pacing really is at odds with the imagination glimpsed in the storyline and the visuals. In many ways, the theatrical cut remains a slog, but it’s also a one-of-a-kind Trek movie.

The ‘Special Longer Version’

Star Trek: The Motion Picture premiered on American network television – ABC, to be exact – on February 20, 1983. Not only was this the first TV showing of the movie, but it also introduced a different cut of the film that came to be known as the “Special Longer Version.” Running for two hours and 24 minutes (without commercials), as opposed to the theatrical cut’s two hours and 12 minutes, the “SLV” essentially incorporated a number of scenes that were left unfinished and kept out of the picture by director Robert Wise in 1979 – who apparently did not approve of this version.

A lot of the scenes that were added back into the movie for the “SLV” were and are clearly extraneous, although in some cases amusing to watch.

There are a couple of exchanges between Sulu (George Takei) and the Deltan navigator Ilia (Persis Khambatta) – whose species is apparently quite sexually attractive and active – that are possibly meant to suggest Sulu is coming under her spell, although they were jettisoned to focus on Ilia and Decker’s (Stephen Collins) relationship (there is also more of that present in this cut).

Other sequences – like a moment in which Spock (Leonard Nimoy) weeps for V’Ger and a quick scene of Ilia helping to relieve Chekov’s (Walter Koenig) pain after he is injured – actually made it into the Director’s Cut and work well there as improved character moments.

Most infamously, the original release of the “SLV” contained a literally unfinished shot of Kirk (William Shatner) leaving the Enterprise airlock in a spacesuit to pursue Spock as the Vulcan himself spacewalks deeper into V’Ger’s interior. When the “SLV” was first shown, parts of the soundstage around the airlock set were still visible, as a result of the effects for the scene never being completed (the new 4K Ultra HD version of the “SLV” rectifies that, although the incomplete version is provided as a bonus feature).

Importantly, the new version of the “SLV” has restored it to its theatrical matting – the movie was cropped to the old TV screen ratio of 1.33: 1 for broadcast (and for several subsequent home video releases), turning Wise’s widescreen compositions into a nightmare of forced zooms and pan-and-scanning. At least now this version of the film is restored to its proper ratio.

That said, the “Special Longer Version” is in many ways the worst version of the film. While it’s always interesting for completists to see footage left out of a theatrical movie, this iteration simply pastes all that material back into the film – ostensibly to fill a three-hour “network movie premiere” slot, back in the day when such things mattered – without any consideration of whether it should be there. If the pacing of Star Trek: The Motion Picture has always been a bone of contention for you, the “SLV” doubles down on that.

Leonard Nimoy as Spock, William Shatner as Kirk, and DeForest Kelley as McCoy in Star Trek: The Motion Picture

The Director’s Edition

Ironically enough, the Robert Wise-supervised “Director’s Edition” of Star Trek: The Motion Picture runs for two hours and 16 minutes – four minutes longer than the theatrical release. It also includes some of the scenes Wise left out initially, which surfaced in the interim in the TV version of the movie (a detailed list of alterations and additions can be found here ).

But while it still suffers from pacing issues, they’re less of a detriment. The Director’s Edition still moves slowly, but doesn’t feel like it drags, and there’s more of a stateliness to it that is befitting the movie’s larger themes – which are also given more clarity in this version.

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Perhaps the most important edition in that sense is the scene in which Spock weeps for V’Ger – a scene that makes it much clearer what V’Ger is seeking as it returns to Earth, and why its quest has reached a potentially catastrophic dead end.

More importantly, the scene also brings Spock’s own character arc in the film into much better focus – he realizes that his desire to purge all remaining emotion from his own life (the kolinahr ritual) could lead him to the same cold, empty existence that V’Ger now faces, which he firmly rejects.

Also retained is Ilia’s healing of Chekov, adding a little more nuance to what is mostly a blank slate of a character, as well as some brief interactions between the supporting crew members.

What is left out are, most notably, the full-length travelogues along V’Ger’s exterior and interior (although we do get a neat shot of the entire V’Ger vessel emerging from its cloud above Earth). The scenes are still there, but this material – and a number of other visuals – is trimmed and sharpened to give the movie a little more forward motion. Along with that, so many subtle visual and audio touches have been added – whether it’s better matte or CG backgrounds or original sounds from the TV series – to create more ambiance and an overall more fulfilling cinematic Trek experience.

When Wise and his team took the movie back into the shop in 2001, they overhauled the visuals and the sound mix with the best available technology at the time – yet the limitations back then in terms of resolution meant that the Director’s Edition was only available on DVD for the next 20 years. With the new upgrade, all the visual and sonic enhancements (plus new ones) have been rendered so that they can now be seen in 4K Ultra HD – thus giving Star Trek: The Motion Picture the most up-to-date restoration possible.

The result is an often eye-popping science fiction spectacle that looks fresher and better than ever before. As rushed as the original production was, it’s a tribute to Wise, Trumbull, and the team that completed the film in 1979 that so much of their work still holds up and was able to mesh so well with the enhancements of both 2001 and 2021.

But just as importantly, Star Trek: The Motion Picture is now about as close as it will ever come to being the visionary sci-fi epic that it was first conceived as. The new version of The Director’s Edition retains all the narrative revisions that Wise made more than two decades ago, while adding the visual grandeur that such a cerebral story needed in the first place. Yes, there are still flaws in the film, and it may never replace, say, The Wrath of Khan at the top of Trek movie rankings, but more than four decades after it first came out, Star Trek: The Motion Picture is now finished.

This film’s journey is at last complete, but the human adventure is still just beginning.

Star Trek: The Motion Picture – The Director’s Edition – The Complete Adventure is out now on 4K Ultra HD and Blu-ray.

Don Kaye

Don Kaye | @donkaye

Don Kaye is an entertainment journalist by trade and geek by natural design. Born in New York City, currently ensconced in Los Angeles, his earliest childhood memory is…

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Published Mar 24, 2022

Star Trek: The Motion Picture - The Director's Edition to Premiere on Paramount+ on First Contact Day

The adventure that started it all makes a triumphant return

Star Trek: The Motion Picture - The Director's Edition

StarTrek.com

Eagerly anticipated by Star Trek fans for over two decades, Star Trek: The Motion Picture—The Director’s Edition will make its long-awaited debut exclusively on Paramount+ on April 5, 2022, in celebration of First Contact Day.  The film will be available to stream on Paramount+ in 4K Ultra HD on supported devices and platforms.  The newly restored film will subsequently arrive on 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray in September from Paramount Home Entertainment.  In addition, fans will have the opportunity to see the restored version of Star Trek: The Motion Picture—The Director’s Edition on the big screen for the first time when Fathom Events and Paramount Pictures bring it to theaters for an exclusive two-day event on May 22 and May 25.  Tickets will go on sale Friday, April 8 at FathomEvents.com.

Originally released in 1979, Star Trek: The Motion Picture became the fourth highest grossing movie of the year and earned three Academy Award® nominations for Best Visual Effects, Best Art Direction, and Best Music, Original Score.  The film successfully launched the Star Trek franchise beyond the original television series, despite having been rushed to theaters with incomplete special effects and forced editing choices.

Star Trek: The Motion Picture - Director's Edition Remastered Trailer

In 2001, director Robert Wise revisited the film to refine the edit and enhance the visual effects.  His updated vision was released on DVD in standard definition and embraced by fans but has never been available in higher definition until now.  Meticulously assembled and restored by producer David C. Fein with preservationist Mike Matessino, both of whom originally collaborated with Wise, the film has been prepared for presentation in 4K Ultra HD with Dolby Vision™ high dynamic range (HDR) and a new powerful and immersive Dolby Atmos® soundtrack. Fein and Matessino assembled a team of special effects experts, led by returning visual effects supervisor Daren Dochterman, and utilized the extensive resources in the Paramount Archives to recreate the effects not just in HD, but in Ultra HD.  After more than six months of painstaking work, the updated movie looks and sounds better than ever while staying true to Wise’s original intention.

“I couldn’t be prouder and more thrilled to have completed the film in 4K,” said Fein.  “Paramount offered unprecedented access to the original elements and exceptional support and the results are stunning.  Utilizing the latest discoveries and innovations of modern film production, The Director’s Edition delivers so much more today than was previously possible.  It’s an adventure you’ll never forget!”

The Star Trek: The Motion Picture—The Director’s Edition 4K Ultra HD Disc and Digital releases will include HDR-10 and Dolby Vision,™ as well as Dolby Atmos®, accompanied by extensive new and legacy bonus content, which will be detailed at a later date.

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Fast forward to the turn of the century when Wise was given the opportunity by Paramount’s Home Entertainment division to revisit the movie and — joined by producers David C. Fein, Mike Matessino, and Daren Dochterman — complete the post-production process the way he intended for DVD release in 2001. Armed with the burgeoning world of CG effects, as well as the time necessary to revisit the movie’s editing, the 2001 edition of The Director’s Edition was released on DVD to great acclaim.

But that DVD release was 21 years ago, and saw the movie released only in the standard definition presentation of the time. During that period, the theatrical edition of The Motion Picture received several re-releases, including on Blu-ray and most recently in September 2021’s remastered 4K UHD box set.

Meanwhile, fans of The Motion Picture Director’s Edition have had only ever had access to the original DVD release (or up-rezzed editions of that DVD picture through some streaming services). Until now!

The Director’s Edition of Star Trek: The Motion Picture is a superior film to the theatrical edition many of our readers are probably familiar with. And while a lot of the attention naturally falls on some of the movie’s sequences that have been significantly altered from the theatrical edition – Starfleet Headquarters has been improved, Vulcan’s moons have disappeared and the planet looks much more like it does in other appearances in the franchise, and we actually get to see the giant V’Ger vessel at the heart of the cloud – the Director’s Edition does more than just update the effects in a few places.

star trek 1 director's cut

The whole movie has been upgraded, not just in its look and feel, but in how it runs, too. Robert Wise was an Oscar-winning movie editor before he moved to directing, and used the 2000-era opportunity to revisit the film to adjust a significant number of edits to the movie’s flow.

A lot of these changes aren’t major alterations – the movie is fundamentally the same – but through a series of targeted cuts and edits the movie flows better, and most importantly for fans who found the theatrical edition to be turgid, it feels like a brisker movie as well.

Drew Stewart of the Star Trek: The Motion Picture Visual Comparisons project has meticulously documented the ways in which the Director’s Edition of the movie is different from the 1979 theatrical edition, and will be updating his project in the coming weeks with additional changes made in the 2022 version of the Director’s Edition . The new presentation of the movie is unlikely to fundamentally reshape your opinion of it — given that it’s still the same story and the same script — but you are very likely to enjoy it more than the theatrical edition that has been most prevalent for viewers.

And if you prefer the theatrical edition? Well the good news is, it’s available for you in the same 4K Ultra HD presentation thanks to last year’s movie box set. Fans now have the ability to choose which version of The Motion Picture they want to watch, and Paramount+ is to be commended for making that available to them… as another major science fiction franchise whose original versions have been vaulted for thirty years might take note?

star trek 1 director's cut

Personally, I see no reason to watch the theatrical edition of The Motion Picture ever again. I’ve loved the Director’s Edition since the original 2001 release, and the 2022 4K remaster does the movie all the justice in the world. The picture is crisp, the colors more vibrant, the sound is incredible, and Jerry Goldsmith’s outstanding score has never sounded better.

The new effects are definitely not egregious additions for the sake of it; they help tell the story of the movie better for the viewer. It never made sense in the theatrical edition that on Vulcan Spock shields his eyes… from the night’s sky. And during the Enterprise’s approach to and journey inside of V’Ger, good luck being able to figure out where anything is or where the Enterprise is in relation to V’Ger as a whole.

The new quick effects shots help the viewer better understand the Enterprise’s journey, and provide more effective visual reference for how large V’Ger is… and what the ship actually looks like! The theatrical edition of the movie never even shows you a wide shot of the V’Ger spacecraft at the heart of the cloud. The Director’s Edition corrects this oversight, not for the sake of it, but because it really helps tell the story better.

The history of Star Trek: The Motion Picture — The Director’s Edition is not one of making changes to the movie just to sell a new product for fans, but of honoring the legacy of the movie’s director and giving him the chance to finish it so that fans could see it in the way it was intended.

star trek 1 director's cut

Even though Robert Wise passed away in 2005, he lived long enough to work with the Director’s Edition team through the original project that was released in 2001, and that same team has picked up the baton to remaster the movie for a 4K presentation today based upon his guidance during the first project.

The voyage of the Star Trek: The Motion Picture — The Director’s Edition may be at an end, but the Human Adventure is Just Beginning, and you’d be wise to give this movie a chance using the biggest screen and the best sound system you have access to.

I know the Director’s Edition has significantly improved my opinion of the movie as a whole, and I hope it does the same for you.

star trek 1 director's cut

The newly remastered  Star Trek: The Motion Picture — The Director’s Edition  arrives in 4K UHD format April 5, exclusively on Paramount+. The new edition of the film will be screened in theaters in the United States in May,  followed by a 4K Blu-ray physical release  this September.

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‘Star Trek: The Motion Picture - The Director’s Edition’ Review: Honoring the Franchise Installment with Visual Effects It Always Deserved

Out on Paramount+, this new edition offers all your favorite Enterprise antics, now in 4K UHD!

Back in 1979, when Robert Wise ’s Star Trek: The Motion Picture first debuted, Wise very much viewed the film’s theatrical release as a rough cut. Over the years, the first Star Trek movie has seen a number of retoolings, from the release of its extended cut in 1983, to a revised release in 2001 which included new CGI sequences and a soundtrack remix so ominous it moved the film’s original G rating to PG. Now, in celebration of Star Trek Day, Paramount+ has released yet another new version — Star Trek: The Motion Picture - The Director’s Edition — in 4K UHD.

Considering every version this first Star Trek movie has taken, its newest iteration, with its gorgeous new CGI and visual effects, most effectively-realize Special Effects Director Douglas Trumbull ’s original dream, which he discussed at the Toronto International Film Festival in 2016. Trumbull intended a beautiful space epic that really gave audiences the opportunity to bask in the glory of space travel, and the glory of Star Trek. When the original version of Star Trek was released, it received mixed reviews, as fans criticized the movie’s lack of impactful action sequences. Watching it, we do spend an awfully long time gazing at the stars and various spacecrafts. Our beloved space explorers do the same. And yet, that’s the point: a celebration of the great human adventure, and traversing this extraordinary world. The new Director’s Edition doubles down on this original intention, even more effectively realizing Trumbull’s goal. Now that four decades have passed since the film’s first release, technology has finally caught up to the Trumbull’s initial aspirations, and this cut realizes the movie’s modern space epic potential.

Originally criticized as devoid of enough action sequences and overly indulging in visual effects, this Director’s Edition turns that reaction into a celebration. This movie is now a feast for the eyes, complete with stunning new visual effects upgraded for the modern audience. A true revelry in the grandeur of space odyssey, the digital artistry, and care given to reimagining the look and feel of the original footage feels like an homage. Paired with the all-consuming soundtrack from the 2001 release, the entire movie feels crisp, bright, and exciting. When our crew struggles to regain control during a warp core malfunction, we see their essences stretch and strain through space-time, their struggle much more dynamic than in the first iteration. As the crew approaches what we’ll eventually come to know as V’ger, the cloud’s details shine brighter than ever before, giving an even stronger nod to 2001: A Space Odyssey . With glistening new motion graphics that read as clean, contextually appropriate reimaginings of the director’s original intention, the Director’s Edition is a celebration of all this movie wanted to be and has finally had the chance to become.

RELATED: The 4K Remaster to the Director's Edition of ‘Star Trek: The Motion Picture’ Is Coming to Paramount+

As the first Star Trek movie in the franchise, at the time of its original release, Star Trek: The Motion Picture was a reunion of sorts for the fans who had, at this point, only come to know and love the cast of the Enterprise through their television sets. The movie, flawed as it may be regarding its inactive plot, was an upgrade from the at-home experience. It’s clear everyone behind the film intended on giving fans the chance to bask in this space world, joke with their space friends, and ponder big questions. A reunion launching us into new escapades in the great unknown. Now-Admiral James T. Kirk ( William Shatner ) returns to his beloved ship after time away, hell-bent on saving humanity from an unknown existential threat. Spock ( Leonard Nimoy ) finds his way back to the Enterprise, pulled to the mission by sensing the threat all the way on Vulcan. Much of the film's tension comes from Kirk’s determination to muscle through this mission, often casting aside advice from trusted crew faithfuls like Leonard McCoy ( DeForest Kelley ), Montgomery Scott ( James Doohan ), and William Decker ( Stephen Collins ). The movie—as it did back in the ‘70s—still very much feels like one long episode of television. And yet, it eventually meanders its way toward its true purpose as an origin story.

Much like how Decker and antagonist V’Ger’s ultimate union and evolution births a new species, so too did this film birth a new chapter in the Star Trek universe. While many agree that it’s not until Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan that the franchise fully finds its footing in terms of the tone subsequent movies will take, this film was the bridge along which the Star Trek universe made its way onto the big screen. This new edition honors that legacy, matching the film’s big questions about the nature of man, machine, logic, emotion, determination, acceptance, and evolution with the visual wonder questions like these warrants.

Other than the special effects advancements, the re-release of this particular film, a work exploring the consequences of man’s creations, feels unnervingly relevant today. What started as humanity sending a probe out into the universe searching for more ultimately devolves into V’ger’s longing to connect with its creator nearly turning catastrophic. Humanity misinterprets this yearning and curiosity as a hostile attack, a miscommunication that nearly costs everything. Four decades later, we humans continue struggling with the repercussions of our best intentions. Glorifying this version of that tale via a new director’s edition cements this take in the canon of man vs. machine science fiction, sure to offer audiences food for thought for decades to come.

The team behind this new release used CGI effects to resolve some visual effects issues that have always plagued this film. Now, the movie is the closest it’s been yet to its original vision. If you are a fan of the original, this new Director’s Edition will feel like a real homecoming. If this is your first foray into the Star Trek cinematic universe, welcome. The human adventure, after all, is just beginning.

Star Trek: The Motion Picture - The Director’s Edition is available now on Paramount+.

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‘star trek: the motion picture’ fully restored director’s cut trailer released.

Paramount has released a stunning look at the 4K restoration of the 1979 'Star Trek' film.

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Star Trek: The Motion Picture trailer

Paramount has released a trailer for its long-awaited release of Star Trek: The Motion Picture —The Director’s Edition .

The 1979 Robert Wise film has been given a special effects makeover and an upgrade to 4K HDR with Dolby Atmos sound.

In 2001, Wise revisited the film to refine the edit and enhance the visual effects. The result was released on DVD in standard definition, but this is the first time the edit been made available in high def. Though Wise passed away in 2005, producer David C. Fein and preservationist Mike Matessino assembled a team of effects experts, led by Daren Dochterman, to spend six months re-creating the original effects in Ultra HD for the new release.

“I couldn’t be prouder and more thrilled to have completed the film in 4K,” said Fein. “Paramount offered unprecedented access to the original elements and exceptional support, and the results are stunning. Utilizing the latest discoveries and innovations of modern film production, the Director’s Edition delivers so much more today than was previously possible. It’s an adventure you’ll never forget!”

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The Motion Picture starred William Shatner as Captain James T. Kirk and launched the Trek franchise onto the big screen, helping spawn a new generation of films. Critics were not impressed, however, with many panning the film for its slow pace (all those long tracking shots of the docked ship!) and a cerebral story (centered around the Enterprise crew investigating a mysterious destructive spacecraft headed toward Earth). Still, the film is often credited as one of the most attractive and cinematic of the Trek films. And the next entry in the series, 1982’s Star Trek: The Wrath of Khan , is widely considered the franchise’s best work.

The Director’s Edition will debut on Paramount+ on April 5 and will arrive on 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray in September.

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The new Star Trek: The Motion Picture director’s cut is finally coming to Paramount Plus

Check out Kirk, Sulu, and Mr. Spock in 4K

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Star Trek : The Motion Picture — the 1979 outing and the first film in the franchise — is coming to Paramount Plus on April 5 (known as First Contact Day in the Star Trek universe) with a new “Director’s Edition.”

For this new version, Paramount Pictures has remastered the film in 4K — an upgrade that even includes recreating the special effects in 4K. The Director’s Edition will eventually come to Blu-ray this September, and appear in theaters via Fathom Events on May 22 and May 25.

Star Trek : The Motion Picture sees the cast of the original series return to the U.S.S. Enterprise to investigate and pursue an alien ship that mysteriously destroyed multiple Klingon vessels. It was one of the top-grossing films in 1979 and earned itself three Oscar nominations, despite being “rushed to theaters” and ultimately earning a lackluster legacy among fans.

The Director’s Edition was restored by producer David C. Fein and preservationist Mike Matessino, both of whom have previously collaborated with Wise. In addition to the various visual improvements and 4K resolution, it also offers Dolby Vision HDR and Dolby Atmos.

“I couldn’t be prouder and more thrilled to have completed the film in 4K,” said Fein. “Paramount offered unprecedented access to the original elements and exceptional support and the results are stunning. Utilizing the latest discoveries and innovations of modern film production, The Director’s Edition delivers so much more today than was previously possible.”

Until its release on Blu-ray and its brief stint in theaters, Star Trek: The Motion Picture — The Director’s Edition will be exclusive to Paramount Plus.

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Star Trek: The Motion Picture - The Director’s Cut (1979) 4K Ultra + Blu-Ray + Digital Review

Star Trek: The Motion Picture - The Director’s Cut (1979)

“Bones, there’s a thing out there.”

Perfection in sound and vision looks like this.

If you don’t get goosebumps over hearing Jerry Goldsmith ’s epic preamble in the fully restored Director’s Cut of Star Trek: The Motion Picture then you ARE dead, son. D. E. A. D. There is a MIGHT and a FURY to that sequence, which is then followed by his glorious Main Titles Theme as the credits roll in director Robert Wise ’s science fiction epic . . . AND THEN the Klingon Battle theme!! Holy crap. Now, Goldsmith might have been influenced by Vaughan Williams - specifically the Third movement of Williams's Fourth Symphony - but it matters little when his bombastic compositions are matched with the striking upgrade in the visuals thanks to the work of everyone involved in this release.

Truth be told, Star Trek: The Motion Picture - The Director’s Cut , now fully restored and remastered, is like nothing previously seen. This is, to be quite honest, a whole new experience for me. I know every scene and can quote it as if it is poetry (it is), yet it is breathtakingly new in EVERY DAMN SCENE.

But, since this is the REMASTERED and RESTORED Director’s Cut of Star Trek: The Motion Picture - the one we have all been jonesing for - we have to give credit where it is due and, simply put, the newly restored, definitive version of the first big-screen adventure, which is presented in 4K Ultra HD with Dolby Vision and HDR-10, as well as Dolby Atmos, is a DAMN FINE way to celebrate the beauty of Star Trek. This release also includes access to a Digital copy of the film, complete with new and legacy bonus content.

Originally released in 1979, Robert Wise ’s film successfully took Trek off the small screen and set the original cast on an adventure which would span SIX more films. Wise’s film might have been rushed to release with unfortunate cuts and incomplete effects but that didn’t stop Star Trek: The Motion Picture from being the fourth highest grossing film of the year, as well as earning Academy Award nominations for Best Visual Effects, Best Art Direction, and Best Music, Original Score for that year.

Star Trek: The Motion Picture - The Director’s Cut (1979)

Now, those with only a casual interest in the franchise will probably shake their heads at my calling Star Trek: The Motion Picture not just a classic film, but a TRUE Science Fiction epic. There is no flaw in its function. True fans know it and feel it as the grand spectacle that TMP is - now fully restored and remastered in 4K thanks to producer David C. Fein with post-production supervisor Mike Matessino , both of whom originally collaborated with Wise in 2001 for the DVD Director’s Cut release of the film - washes over the screen.

Gloriously enough, this new 4K scan leaves me completely breathless with great jaw-dropping sequences which feel more engaging and more intimate than ever before. It’s dialogue-heavy and full of BIG IDEAS which continue to inspire the viewer as the classic crew of the newly refitted Enterprise faces down a powerful alien cloud known as V'Ger that is on a path toward Earth and is destroying everything standing in its way.

The “why” is pure poetry as Shatner, Leonard Nimoy as Spock, DeForest Kelley as Leonard McCoy, James Doohan as Montgomery Scott, George Takei as Hikaru Sulu Walter Koenig as Pavel Chekov, Nichelle Nichols as Uhura come face to face with humankind’s own invention. All it wants - like all of us - is to meet its creator and share its knowledge.

What’s the harm in that? Star Trek: The Motion Picture - The Director’s Cut has the answer and every minute wasted in your delay of purchasing this EPIC 4K release is another minute that the creature comes barrelling closer to earth.

Warp your way to that course correction immediately.

5/5 stars

Star Trek: The Motion Picture - The Director’s Cut (1979)

Home Video Distributor: Paramount Pictures Available on Blu-ray - September 6, 2022 Screen Formats: 2.39:1 Subtitles : English SDH, French, German, Italian, Spanish, Danish, Dutch, Finnish, Norwegian, Swedish Audio: English: Dolby Atmos; English: Dolby TrueHD 7.1; German: Dolby Digital 5.1; Spanish: Dolby Digital 5.1; French: Dolby Digital 5.1 Discs: 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray Disc; Two-disc set Region Encoding: Region free

Director Robert Wise ’s definitive vision—eagerly anticipated by STAR TREK fans for over two decades—is now meticulously restored and remastered in 4K Ultra HD with HDR-10 and Dolby Vision for optimal picture and Dolby Atmos for immersive sound. This must-have release features a bonus Blu-ray disc with hours of new and legacy special features, including extensive behind the scenes footage, deleted scenes, and more. The adventure begins when an unidentified alien intruder destroys three powerful Klingon cruisers. Captain James T. Kirk boldly returns to the helm of a newly transformed U.S.S. Enterprise to take command. This bold adventure launched one of the longest running movie franchises of all time and features the cast of the original STAR TREK series, including William Shatner, Leonard Nimoy, DeForest Kelley, George Takei, Nichelle Nichols, Walter Koenig , and James Doohan .

Paramount ’s 4K restoration is fantastic in giving the film a clean look without sacrificing too much of the grain. The contrast and colors are restored to extenuate the muted color palette of the film, and the sparkles and other mystical elements really seem to pop out wonderfully. Overall, this is probably a perfect transfer and the best version of the film we will ever see. The organic depth of color leaves the previous blu ray releases in the dust. From opening to ending, the darks throughout these four films are inky black and the vibrant colors pop off the screen. There are almost imperceptible shots that are a touch on the soft side, and the optical effects stand out more so at this resolution, but this is completely faithful to the source, organic even, and the finest these films have ever looked.

The new Dolby TrueHD 7.1 mixes are also another massive upgrade over the previous release. With new overhead channels mixed in, a robust soundscape awaits your ears. Again, the start of these films waste no time in showing you the difference aurally as well as visually.

Supplements:

Commentary :

  • There is a NEW commentary with David C. Fein, Mike Matessino , and Daren R. Dochterman , plus previous commentaries with Robert Wise, Douglas Trumbull, John Dykstra, Jerry Goldsmith , and Stephen Collins ​. There is also a text commentary from Michael and Denise Okuda which fans will appreciate.

Special Features:

This 3-disc set includes the Director's Cut on 4K Ultra-HD and Blu-ray and also includes a bonus Blu-ray disc filled with new and legacy special features.

  • The Human Adventure - An all-new 8-part documentary detailing how the Director’s Edition came to life
  • Preparing the Future - How the remastering began
  • A Wise Choice - The storied history of Robert Wise
  • Refitting the Enterprise - How the Enterprise design shaped future federation starships
  • Sounding Off – Exploring new dimensions of sound in Dolby Atmos
  • V’ger - The conception and restoration of an iconic alien antagonist
  • Return to Tomorrow - Reaching an already high bar with new CGI effects
  • A Grand Theme - Behind the iconic, influential music score that shaped the franchise’s future The Grand Vision - The legacy and evolving reputation of this classic movie
  • Deleted Scenes - NEW!
  • Effects Tests - NEW!
  • Costume Tests - NEW!
  • Computer Display Graphics - NEW!
  • Additional legacy bonus content

Star Trek: The Motion Picture - The Director’s Cut (1979)

MPAA Rating: G. Runtime: 143 mins Director : Robert Wise Writer: Harold Livingston Cast: William Shatner; Leonard Nimoy; DeForest Kelley Genre : Adventure | Sci-fi Tagline: There is no comparison. Memorable Movie Quote: "Enterprise, what we got back didn't live long... fortunately." Theatrical Distributor: Paramount Pictures Official Site: Release Date: December 8, 1979 DVD/Blu-ray Release Date: September 6, 2022. Synopsis : When an alien spacecraft of enormous power is spotted approaching Earth, Admiral James T. Kirk resumes command of the overhauled USS Enterprise in order to intercept it.

Star Trek: The Motion Picture - The Director’s Cut (1979)

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Star Trek: The Motion Picture (Director's Cut) (United States, 2001)

Star Trek: The Motion Picture (Director's Cut) Poster

A long time ago in a strange place called Hollywood, a theatrical cut of a movie was considered to be the director's cut. Now, with the advent of DVDs and the proliferation of special editions, numerous big-budget (and some not-so-big-budget) motion pictures are being given a second life in a format that is often quite different from the original version. For filmmakers who continuously like to tinker, this new philosophy is a godsend. They can release a truncated, studio-friendly version in theaters, then offer their "true vision" to DVD buyers.

This trend towards director's cuts/special editions was not started by George Lucas, but it was popularized by him. The financial windfall reaped when Lucas re-released the original three Star Wars films with new effects and footage awakened Hollywood executives to a previously-untapped resource. To be fair, most special editions exist primarily for creative reasons (although the studios backing them dream of $$$), and often result in a vastly improved product. James Cameron's The Abyss is a completely different movie - confusing and dissatisfying in the shortened theatrical version; sublime and brilliant in the director's cut. The hour added to Wolgang Petersen's Das Boot transforms it into a character-driven white-knuckler. Cameron Crowe's extended Almost Famous gives the story greater span and depth.

In 1979, the release of Star Trek - The Motion Picture represented the climax to every Star Trek fan's wet dream. The date, December 7, lived in infamy for the entire production crew. Paramount Pictures etched this date into their release calendar and informed everyone involved that the film would be ready on that day. Despite the Herculean effort by legendary director Robert Wise and his army of post-production assistants, the version of Star Trek - The Motion Picture that reached theaters was not complete. Effects scenes were unfinished, the sound mix was not perfected, and several important sequences were inexplicably left on the cutting room floor.

The movie that played in theaters during late 1979 and early 1980 received a mixed critical and popular reception. Star Trek fans were divided over the film. On one hand, it gave them the opportunity to spend time with characters who were as dear to them as old friends. On the other hand, it was largely a re-hash of previously-produced television episodes (in particular, "The Changeling"). The general public, expecting a Star Wars clone and instead getting something more sedate and less action-oriented, was bored. Two unflattering nicknames were born: Star Trek - The Motionless Picture and Star Trek - The Motion Sickness . The movie was a financial success, grossing nearly $90 million domestically (against a $35 million budget), but a large portion of that was contributed by Trekkers who returned time and time again to theaters to re-watch the movie. It was not unusual to find die-hards who would proudly claim to have seen Star Trek - The Motion Picture 40, 50, or even 100 times. (This kind of repeat business, unheard of in the era of home video, did occasionally happen.)

The film opens with the destruction of three Klingon warships by a mysterious energy cloud that is on a direct heading for Earth. The newly redesigned U.S.S. Enterprise , the pride and joy of the United Federation of Planets, is the only ship available to intercept the cloud, and it hasn't undergone its shakedown cruise. Admiral James T. Kirk (William Shatner), restless after 2 1/2 years behind a desk, uses the crises to once again take command of the Enterprise , forcing the ship's expected captain, Will Decker (Stephen Collins), into the role of Executive Officer. Most of the crew is re-united, including the irascible Dr. McCoy (the late DeForest Kelley) and the half-Vulcan Mr. Spock (Leonard Nimoy). Spock senses a kinship with the vast consciousness that exists at the heart of the cloud. Also on board are Chief Engineer Scotty (James Doohan), Security Chief Chekov (Walter Koenig), Helmsman Sulu (George Takei), Communications Officer Uhura (Nichelle Nichols), and a newcomer, Navigator Ilia (Persis Khambatta).

After battling several systems failures, including a malfunctioning transporter that kills two crewman and a propulsion system that becomes unstable and creates a wormhole, the Enterprise makes contact with the entity within the cloud, called V'ger. The journey to the center of the alien ship is a strange and bizarre one. Ilia is killed when a probe invades the Enterprise bridge, and V'ger later sends a second probe to the ship in the form of a mechanism that mimics Ilia's body and features. Kirk learns that V'ger is a living machine traveling to Earth to make contact with its "Creator". If this contact is not made, V'ger intends to wipe out all of the human beings "infesting" the planet. It is up to the crew of the Enterprise to prevent that eventuality.

My recollections of seeing Star Trek - The Motion Picture during its initial release are of watching a lot of pretty images pass across the screen. The special effects sequences seemed to go on forever, with only an occasional glimpse of the actors reacting to what their characters were supposedly seeing. Subsequent viewings on videotape enabled me to more clearly pinpoint the film's flaws - poor pacing and a reliance upon special effects over character development. The sterile atmosphere of the new Starship Enterprise had seemingly seeped into the movie's tone, which was cool and unfriendly.

Now, more that 20 years later, Robert Wise has had the opportunity to return to the film and complete it in the manner he had originally envisioned. In addition to re-editing the movie, he was given the money to complete several effects sequences. The soundtrack was re-mixed and the picture was cleaned-up. The resultant product was released on DVD after consideration of a theatrical re-release was nixed. (A friend of mine who works for Paramount indicated that, had there been an actor's strike, Star Trek - The Motion Picture: Director's Edition would have been in multiplexes some time during 2002, but, since the strike didn't happen, tentative plans for a theatrical launch were scrapped.)

The film's total running length has hardly changed, expanding by four minutes from 2:12 to 2:16. However, alterations to the Director's Edition represent more than just adding a few scenes. Some material was either removed or replaced (all of the deleted scenes and trims are available as part of the DVD's supplementary material). In total, about 10% of the film is different from the theatrical cut, but the changes, while seemingly slight, result in a significantly improved motion picture. Star Trek - The Motion Picture: Director's Edition is no 2001 (its obvious inspiration - a fact that is more evident here than ever before), but it represents thought-provoking, well constructed science fiction.

So why is this version better than its theatrical sibling? The first, and most obvious, reason is that the pacing is better. Some of the new effects transform the V'ger trip into a more involving experience, and the inclusion of several character-based scenes that were previously edited out (Spock weeping for V'ger, Kirk ordering Scotty to prepare for a self-destruct) subtly shift the focus away from technical elements and back to the players. Wise's decisions about what to eliminate and what to add are inspired. The entire second act feels completely different. Secondly, the improved sound allows the audio to pack a punch that the original never did. And, finally, there's an intangible - because the movie explores ideas, it has aged better than many of its action-oriented contemporaries.

The "idea" aspect of Star Trek - The Motion Picture is enhanced in this version. The film spends more time exploring those unique qualities that make human beings special, and the importance of tempering logic and knowledge with emotion. Spock's breakthrough comes when he embraces his human half instead of rejecting it. For V'ger to grow, it must find a way to move beyond the cold machine logic of its programming. To do that, V'ger wants to "join" with its creator, and, in this, the film illuminates our need to strive for new goals and seek to attain the previously unattainable. And, while Star Trek - The Motion Picture doesn't answer the questions of "Who am I? Why am I here?", it isn't afraid to ask them.

It's interesting to note that the new special effects (produced by Foundation Imaging) - including an improved vision of Vulcan, a more impressive end to the wormhole sequence, our first view of the entire V'ger ship from the outside, and a change in the approach "walkway" to V'ger at the end - are done in such a manner that they blend seamlessly with the work done by Douglas Trumbell and John Dykstra 22 years ago. Nothing in Star Trek - The Motion Picture: Director's Edition seems out of place. A casual viewer who hasn't seen the film in more than two decades might assume that little or nothing had changed.

Jerry Goldsmith's score, which has since become a staple in the Star Trek musical lexicon, represents one of the film's strengths. It's the music, as much as the visuals, that makes the shuttle's initial approach to the Enterprise such a majestic moment. The sequence is overlong, but the thrill of hearing Goldsmith's score allows us to enjoy the moment rather than fall asleep. The ominous, ethereal strains of his V'ger themes enhance the sense that the Enterprise is penetrating ever deeper into a wondrous and dangerous realm as it moves deeper into the aliens' vessel.

When it comes to a Star Trek movie, the quality of acting is largely irrelevant. The familiar faces are all there doing pretty much what we expect them to do. William Shatner, ever the ham, applies his unique brand of overacting to Kirk, and we welcome it. (To be fair, Shatner is capable of giving a good performance as Kirk - something he does in Star Trek s II , III , and VI .) Leonard Nimoy imbues Spock with a quiet dignity and DeForest Kelley slides easily into the part of the anti-technology old country doctor. The camaraderie between Kirk, Spock, and McCoy, one of the strengths of the TV series, is in evidence here, although not to the extent that it could have been. As far as the newcomers are concerned, Stephen Collins is solid as Decker. However, while Persis Khambatta is striking to look at as the svelte, bald Ilia, this is not a memorable example of acting.

Re-visiting Star Trek - The Motion Picture via this director's cut is like seeing a familiar story unfold in a new way. Wise's picture was an ambitious effort from the beginning, striving for a greatness that it never attained. In this new version, it still falls short, but not by as much. It has taken more than 20 years for Robert Wise to return to his chapter of the Star Trek saga and fulfill his vision. With no hesitation, I can say that it has been worth the wait. Star Trek - The Motion Picture: Director's Edition vaults this movie from a position as one of the weakest entries in the long-running film series to a perch as one of the strongest.

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Why Star Trek: The Motion Picture's Horrifying Transporter Accident May Be The Director's Edition's Most Important Scene

Producer David Fein explained its significance to CinemaBlend.

Star Trek: The Motion Picture Director’s Edition changed a lot about the original film. And for many, it vastly improved upon that original project, which was rushed to theaters in an incomplete state (and we have it pretty low on our Trek movies ranking list ). Many of the improvements remove “bad laughs” and update the visual effects. One of them, however, turned an already upsetting transporter accident into straight-up nightmare fuel by making a horrifying tweak to the sound. Ironically, it also may be the most important scene of the Director’s Edition , and the reason for that may not be so clear to viewers right away.

CinemaBlend had the pleasure of speaking with producer David C. Fein about the latest 4K edition of Star Trek: The Motion Picture Director’s Edition , and I, of course, needed some answers about the changes made to the transporter scene. Fein noted that during his discussions with director Robert Wise, it was decided that the scene needed to be more powerful but also have another purpose. The producer explained that it was part of sending a message to the audience that the director’s cut was a different movie from the original: 

We wanted to also tell people this was a better film and a different film, a mature film. And we realized that the G rating that they gave, time had changed from a G just being something that wasn’t as harsh for audiences, to G [means a] kids film. And we knew that if I was able to send the film back in for re-rating, it would and it could get a PG. And that would spark people’s interest in the film and [they'd be] like, ‘What could possibly have been done to that film at the time to gain a PG rating.’

Star Trek: The Motion Picture is a lot of things, but few would accuse it of being a movie that’s full of frightening moments and scares that raise a rating (it did almost feature a fist fight between Captain Kirk and Jesus , though). Of course, the one scene that features the gruesome and unimaginable death, thanks to a malfunction in a refitted transporter, goes a long way.

For those who don’t remember, Science Officer Commander Sonak and a female officer became stuck midway through and are briefly seen in a deformed state. Viewers don’t see much else but hear a frightening and almost otherworldly guttural gasp. David Fein talked about instructing the updated scream for the Director’s Cut, and what it needed to sound in order for the rating to be changed:

I’ll tell you exactly what I told my sound department… ’It should definitely be a nails on a chalkboard level of tension,’ but I also said, ‘Imagine if you were in the most horrible pain of your life and you needed to scream just to get it out, but you had no way, no orifice, to even scream. What would it sound like if, finally, you could make some sound, what would that sound be?' It’s funny, I talk about it, and the hairs on the back of my neck still stand up… So I said to the sound department, ‘We’re not G. You really want to make people nervous from this, and you need to scare them to the point of really making it the realistic fear of what was happening. Because it really is one of the most horrible deaths in the history of Star Trek, but it also got us a PG rating.

When it comes down to it, the transporter accident might truly be the most important scene in Star Trek: The Motion Picture Director’s Cut . Had it not been for the rating change, some of the franchise's fans might not have even given the movie a second look and assumed they had their fill of Trek villain V’Ger . Now, we’re blessed with a finished and re-edited version of the movie that elevates it to the level of respect it should’ve had if Robert Wise (who is the force behind amazing films like haunted house movie The Haunting ) was able to properly do everything he needed the first time around. 

Of course, all of the work on the transporter accident would’ve gone to waste had the director’s cut not removed Captain Kirk’s reaction to it. In the original cut, Kirk responded to the accident with a shocked face and said, “Oh my god,” which became a “bad laugh” with audiences and completely killed the tension of the accident. Kirk’s reaction was edited to appear more solemn in regard to what he'd just witnessed, a move that definitely helps the scene more than it hurts it. It’s a great show of one of the many changes made and helps to exemplify why this director’s cut so important to the Star Trek franchise. 

The 4K remaster of Star Trek: The Motion Picture Director’s Edition is now available non Blu-ray and can be streamed if you have a Paramount+ subscription . Watch it now for the horrific transporter accident, or check out The Next Generation to see some of the WTF moments that keep us up at night.

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Mick Joest

Mick Joest is a Content Producer for CinemaBlend with his hand in an eclectic mix of television goodness. Star Trek is his main jam, but he also regularly reports on happenings in the world of Star Trek, WWE, Doctor Who, 90 Day Fiancé, Quantum Leap, and Big Brother. He graduated from the University of Southern Indiana with a degree in Journalism and a minor in Radio and Television. He's great at hosting panels and appearing on podcasts if given the chance as well.

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Star Trek: The Motion Picture

Where to watch.

Watch Star Trek: The Motion Picture with a subscription on Max, rent on Fandango at Home, Prime Video, or buy on Fandango at Home, Prime Video.

What to Know

Featuring a patchwork script and a dialogue-heavy storyline whose biggest villain is a cloud, Star Trek: The Motion Picture is a less-than-auspicious debut for the franchise.

Critics Reviews

Audience reviews, cast & crew.

Robert Wise

William Shatner

Leonard Nimoy

Commander Spock

DeForest Kelley

Lt. Cmdr, Leonard H. 'Bones' McCoy, M.D.

Stephen Collins

Persis Khambatta

Lieutenant Ilia

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More like this, related movie news.

The Cage: Why Star Trek's Original Pilot Was Killed By NBC - And Why It Came Back

Spock and Pike looking confused

"Star Trek: The Original Series" boldly took viewers to space, the final frontier, with Captain James T. Kirk (William Shatner) at the helm of the USS Enterprise. However, before that iteration of the story arrived in living rooms across the world, Captain Christopher Pike (Jeffrey Hunter) was the ship's commanding officer, and the original pilot episode, "The Cage," gave fans a taste of what his crew's adventures would have entailed. Unfortunately, NBC didn't want that show, as the network's bosses felt it was too weird, forcing Gene Roddenberry and his team to return to the drawing board.

The book "Inside Star Trek: The Real Story" — which was penned by series alums Herbert F. Solow and Robert H. Justman — details NBC's early meetings with the show's creators. Apparently, the network's executives were reluctant to green-light the series due to its budget demands and philosophical concepts. As a result, they ordered Roddenberry and co. to shoot a new pilot with more action, mostly new actors (Leonard Nimoy did return as Spock), and "Where No Man Has Gone Before" was born. The rest is history.

That said, "The Cage" was later repurposed as another two-part episode, and its influence on the franchise has proven to be long lasting. With that in mind, let's look at how the pilot eventually made it to television screens after its initial cancelation.

Star Trek reused footage from The Cage later on

"The Cage" was made for a reported $630,000, and Gene Roddenberry made sure that money didn't go to waste. "Star Trek: The Original Series" Season 1's "The Menagerie" two-part episode repurposes footage from the pilot through flashback sequences, using it to tell a story about Spock (Leonard Limoy) kidnapping Captain Christopher Pike and taking over the USS Enterprise before being summoned to court to explain his actions. The script won a prestigious Hugo Award for Best Dramatic Presentation in 1967, and to this day, some fans regard "The Menagerie" as one of the best episodes of "Star Trek: The Original Series."

While repurposing the footage undoubtedly cut down the episode's production costs, it also brought Pike into the canon lore, and that's gone a long way for the franchise. "The Cage" has continued to inform the sci-fi saga, particularly in  "Star Trek: Strange New Worlds," where a deep cut reference paid tribute to some of the tiniest aspects of the original pilot . Furthermore, "Strange New Worlds" revolves around the Pike (Anson Mount) character's adventures before the events of "The Original Series," ultimately giving him the substantial story that was teased all those years ago.

If you enjoyed this article, check out the most pause-worthy moments in the original "Star Trek."

star trek 1 director's cut

Star Trek: The Next Generations 'Cause and Effect' Explained

T he Star Trek franchise has a straightforward mandate when it comes to making individual episodes. The writers select a science fiction idea with varying levels of grounded realism. Each concept walks a line between needless complexity and fanciful silliness. The writers and directors generally accomplish that feat, delivering fun episodes of TV that leave audiences thinking without making them laugh inappropriately. "Cause and Effect" is a stellar example of a now well-worn trope that blew fans' minds in the 90s.

The time loop or temporal loop is a literary plot device that originated over 100 years ago. Russian novelist P. D. Ouspensky used the concept in his 1915 book, Strange Life of Ivan Osokin, to discuss the mechanical nature of human thought. Richard A. Lupoff's 1973 short story "12:01 P.M." cemented the concept and its most common format. The most popular example remains Harold Ramis's Groundhog Day . The concept appears throughout pop culture today, sometimes including groundbreaking innovations like Nana Kwame Adjei-Brenyah's "Through the Flash." "Cause and Effect" is Star Trek 's first foray into the concept.

Star Trek: Who is Isabella?

What is "cause and effect" about.

"Cause and Effect" opens with a gripping teaser in which the Enterprise-D suffers a cataclysmic collision, spins out of control, and explodes, killing everyone aboard. The episode resumes unabated, depicting a tense poker game between the Enterprise-D crew members. Beverly Crusher calls Riker's bluff, winning the hand with unusual prescience. As she treats Geordi La Forge for his unexplained vertigo symptoms, Crusher experiences déjà vu. Worf discovers a localized fluctuation in the space-time continuum, through which a Federation ship suddenly emerges. The vessel rockets inexorably toward the Enterprise-D. Picard requests suggestions from the senior staff. Riker recommends igniting an explosive decompression reaction to push the Enterprise to the side. Data pitches using a tractor beam to shove the oncoming vessel away. Picard follows Data's advice , but the ships collide and explode, just as they did in the teaser.

The Enterprise-D crew experiences the time loop again. They play cards, but Riker experiences déjà vu and folds before Crusher can call his bluff. Details shift through each subsequent loop. Now La Forge feels the familiarity Crusher expressed. Crusher and other crew members hear whispers in the night. Déjà vu spreads throughout the crew. The Enterprise hits the mystery ship and explodes again. Crusher records the mysterious voices on her third trip through the loop. La Forge discovers the temporal loop , prompting Data to examine the recordings and pick out thousands of copies of Picard, Worf, and Data's voices. With the knowledge of what will happen next, it's up to the senior staff to find a way out before they're doomed to endless violent deaths.

Why is "Cause and Effect" significant?

"Cause and Effect" earned excellent ratings when it premiered. It also prompted hundreds of calls to local affiliate stations from confused viewers. The TNG season 5 Blu-ray special features mention widespread complaints from fans. According to writer Brannon Braga , audiences of the early 90s were less understanding of non-conventional story structures. Those calling in believed that the episode footage was repeating unintentionally between commercial breaks. This likely primed Star Trek fans for unusual future episodes. Braga also stated that "Cause and Effect" was his most popular episode. The outing appears to this day on various top ten lists and compilations.

How does "Cause and Effect" end?

Data discovers a way to create a resonance in his positronic brain, essentially leaving a message for himself on the next loop. As the day starts anew, Data gradually notices the number three appearing in various places. Data deals only threes in the poker game, followed by several players simultaneously drawing three of a kind. The statistical anomaly draws attention. Data runs diagnostics, receiving a string of threes. He reports his findings, prompting a discussion about the number's potential meaning. As the ship emerges again, Data realizes that the three represents the command pips on Riker's uniform. Data withdraws his tractor beam idea and supports Riker's proposition , which allows the Enterprise to evade the oncoming vessel. The time loop ends, revealing that the crew spent 17 days in the fluctuation. They welcome the crew of the USS Bozeman , who has been trapped for more than 90 years.

"Cause and Effect" is a compelling episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation . It enjoyed the benefit of a trope only one year before Bill Murray would make it iconic. Though contemporary audiences struggled to understand the unique premise, modern viewers love the episode. It's funny that Jonathan Frakes would direct an episode in which the solution to an otherwise unsolvable problem is to listen to his character. "Cause and Effect" is worth a rewatch, for anyone looking to relive the past a few times.

Star Trek: Why Was The Original Series Canceled?

Star Trek: The Next Generations 'Cause and Effect' Explained

Screen Rant

Star trek's new warp drive breaks the prime directive in a way no-one expected.

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Star Trek's God War Is Flipping a Classic (and Overdone) Franchise Cliché

Spock's greatest star trek impact wasn't as a starfleet captain, star trek’s badlands in ds9 & discovery explained.

  • The Prime Directive is a sacrosanct rule and it is violated by a new warp drive system in Star Trek #20.
  • Violating the Prime Directive can have serious consequences, as seen throughout Star Trek's history.
  • The Kardashev Drive in Star Trek #20 flips the Prime Directive uniquely, giving the Federation an edge.

Warning: contains spoilers for Star Trek #20!

The Prime Directive is one of the cardinal rules of the Star Trek universe, and its revolutionary new warp drive system is breaking it in a novel way. In Star Trek #20, the Theseus is outfitted with a new warp drive system, one beyond anything the Federation ever dreamed of. However, it raises a number of ethical questions and could be viewed as a violation of the Prime Directive.

The Prime Directive was first mentioned in the first season Star Trek episode "Return of the Archons."

Star Trek #20 is written by Jackson Lanzing and Collin Kelly and drawn by Megan Levens. Thanks to T’Lir, the last Organian, the Theseus has been refitted with the “Kardashev Drive,” capable of entering the Pleroma, or the Realm of the Gods. Overseeing the refit was Liam Shaw , who later meets with T’Lir over it. Shaw praises T’Lir for their design, but T’Lir deflects the praise to Mister Scott instead.

Shaw then calls the new technology a “Prime Directive” violation, and Starfleet had to perform mental gymnastics to justify it.

There is No Rule More Important in Starfleet Than the Prime Directive

Despite its importance, the prime directive has been violated many times.

By and large, the Federation and Starfleet honor the Prime Directive, instead letting species progress and grow naturally.

The Prime Directive, or General Order One, is a binding principle in Starfleet. Its very name implies the rule is sacrosanct, and supersedes all others. Simply put, the Prime Directive forbids interference in the development of pre-warp and/or worlds not a part of the Federation. This sensible rule has helped Starfleet generate goodwill throughout the galaxy and deflects, at least on the surface, imperialist critiques of the Federation. By and large, the Federation and Starfleet honor the Prime Directive, instead letting species progress and grow naturally.

However, the Prime Directive has been violated numerous times throughout the franchise’s history, often by Starfleet personnel. In nearly every case, it led to serious consequences, such as in the Original Series episode “A Piece of the Action” or The Next Generation episode “Who Watches the Watchers?” There have also been Star Trek media that have questioned the Prime Directive, and whether it can be applied to every situation. Despite these critical interrogations, Starfleet continues to uphold the Prime Directive, and it has been a consistent piece of policy.

Star Trek's epic god war has shaken the universe to its core, and now it is subverting one of the franchise's most common, and overdone, tropes.

There Has Never Been a Prime Directive Violation Quite Like This

Previous violations were all one way.

Yet the Theseus’ Kardashev Drive violates the Prime Directive, but in a way never before seen. In episodes dealing with the Directive, it is always one-way. It is often Starfleet who is violating the Directive, but in Star Trek #20 a more developed lifeform is giving the Federation technology they could never have constructed on their own. T’Lir potentially opened a can of worms by building the Kardashev Drive. It has given the Federation an edge over other powers in the Star Trek universe, and it inverts the Prime Directive in unexpected ways.

Star Trek #20 is on sale now from IDW Publishing!

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IMAGES

  1. Star Trek 1: The Motion Picture (Director's Cut) (4K Ultra HD Blu-ray

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  2. First Look at The 4K Remaster Director's Cut of STAR TREK: THE MOTION

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  3. Star Trek: The Motion Picture The Director's Edition Review

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  4. Star Trek 1: The Motion Picture (1979)

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  6. Star Trek: The Motion Picture

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VIDEO

  1. Star Trek: Lower Decks

  2. Star Trek

  3. Star Trek the Motion Picture: the Rand Cut Part 1

  4. Star Trek TMP (The Director's Edition)

  5. Star Trek

  6. Surprise! Unknown Crewman Returned From Star Trek's 1st Pilot “The Cage!”

COMMENTS

  1. Comparing The Three Versions of Star Trek: The Motion Picture

    Ironically enough, the Robert Wise-supervised "Director's Edition" of Star Trek: The Motion Picture runs for two hours and 16 minutes - four minutes longer than the theatrical release.

  2. Star Trek I: The Motion Picture

    Amazon.com: Star Trek I: The Motion Picture - The Director's Edition : William Shatner, Leonard Nimoy, Majel Barrett, George Takei: ... This addition was originally attempted during the first "director's cut" version back in the 2000's and redone again for this NEW director's cut. Elements from the original Matt painting is still there, now ...

  3. Star Trek: The Motion Picture

    Star Trek: The Motion Picture is a 1979 American science fiction film directed by Robert Wise. The Motion Picture is based on and stars the cast of the 1966-1969 television series Star Trek created by Gene Roddenberry, who serves as producer.In the film, set in the 2270s, a mysterious and powerful alien cloud known as V'Ger approaches Earth, destroying everything in its path.

  4. STAR TREK: THE MOTION PICTURE

    The definitive vision of Director Robert Wise debuts exclusively on Paramount+ April 5, 2022. Film arrives on 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray in September with extensive...

  5. Fully Restored Director's Edition of Star Trek: The Motion Picture

    Set a course for the final frontier as the newly restored Star Trek: The Motion Picture—The Director's Edition arrives September 6, 2022 on 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray™ with a bonus Blu-ray Disc™ filled with new and legacy special features from Paramount Home Entertainment. The film will also be released in a Limited-Edition Collector's Set entitled "The Complete Adventure," which ...

  6. Star Trek: The Motion Picture

    Eagerly anticipated by Star Trek fans for over two decades, Star Trek: The Motion Picture—The Director's Edition will make its long-awaited debut exclusively on Paramount+ on April 5, 2022, in celebration of First Contact Day. The film will be available to stream on Paramount+ in 4K Ultra HD on supported devices and platforms. The newly restored film will subsequently arrive on 4K Ultra HD ...

  7. Review

    The long-awaited 4K remaster of Star Trek: The Motion Picture — The Director's Edition is the ultimate presentation of acclaimed Hollywood director Robert Wise's movie — and after 20 years, the newly-upgraded edition of this movie is available on Paramount+.. Whether you consider The Motion Picture to be one of Star Trek's greatest (or worst!) movies, you owe it to yourself to ...

  8. Star Trek: The Motion Picture The Director's Edition Review

    Back in 1979, when Robert Wise's Star Trek: The Motion Picture first debuted, Wise very much viewed the film's theatrical release as a rough cut. Over the years, the first Star Trek movie has ...

  9. Star Trek: The Motion Picture, The Director's Cut (Special Collector's

    Product description. Back when the first Star Trek feature was released in December 1979, the Trek franchise was still relatively modest, consisting of the original TV series, an animated cartoon series from 1973-74, and a burgeoning fan network around the worl

  10. Star Trek I: The Motion Picture

    The U.S.S. Enterprise™ proudly soars again in this new, beautifully restored Director's Edition of the original Star Trek™ movie classic. This new Director's Cut features enhanced visual effects and a new sound mix, supervised by legendary director Robert Wise. When an unidentified alien destroys three powerful Klingon cruisers, Captain James T. Kirk (William Shatner) returns to the newly ...

  11. Star Trek: The Motion Picture Fully Restored Director's Cut Trailer

    March 24, 2022 6:52am. Trailer. Paramount has released a trailer for its long-awaited release of Star Trek: The Motion Picture —The Director's Edition. The 1979 Robert Wise film has been given ...

  12. The new Star Trek: The Motion Picture director's cut is finally coming

    Star Trek: The Motion Picture — the 1979 classic — is getting a new Director's Edition in 4K Ultra HD, coming exclusively to Paramount Plus on April 5. The new version revises the 2001 ...

  13. Star Trek: The Motion Picture

    Director Robert Wise 's definitive vision—eagerly anticipated by STAR TREK fans for over two decades—is now meticulously restored and remastered in 4K Ultra HD with HDR-10 and Dolby Vision for optimal picture and Dolby Atmos for immersive sound. This must-have release features a bonus Blu-ray disc with hours of new and legacy special ...

  14. Star Trek: The Motion Picture (Director's Cut)

    Re-visiting Star Trek - The Motion Picture via this director's cut is like seeing a familiar story unfold in a new way. Wise's picture was an ambitious effort from the beginning, striving for a greatness that it never attained. In this new version, it still falls short, but not by as much.

  15. Star Trek: The Motion Picture Director's Edition 4K Blu-ray Review

    Star Trek: The Motion Picture was shot on 35mm film using Panavision Panaflex and Panavision PSR R-200 Cameras with the UHD release benefitting from Paramount's meticulous 4K scan and restoration as per the previous release. However, for the Director's Edition, Paramount have gone one step further - not only have the original camera negative and master inter-positive elements been ...

  16. Star Trek: The Motion Picture

    The U.S.S. Enterprise™ proudly soars again in this new, beautifully restored Director's Edition of the original Star Trek™ movie classic. This features enhanced visual effects and a new sound mix, supervised by legendary director Robert Wise. 3,433 IMDb 6.4 2 h 16 min 1979. X-Ray PG.

  17. Why Star Trek: The Motion Picture's Horrifying ...

    When it comes down to it, the transporter accident might truly be the most important scene in Star Trek: The Motion Picture Director's Cut.Had it not been for the rating change, some of the ...

  18. Star Trek: The Motion Picture Director's Cut Is Coming to Theaters

    Fathom Events will screen Star Trek: The Motion Picture - The Director's Edition in theaters for three nights. The events will take place on May 22, May 23, and May 25, 2022, in select cinemas across the United States. Star Trek's Original Movie Plans Would Have Been Better Than The Motion Picture. For those unable to attend the event, the film ...

  19. Star Trek: The Motion Picture

    After investigating, the crew discovers that the alien cloud harbors artificial intelligence with an ominous primary directive. Crisis strikes when a probe dispatched by the energy cloud attacks ...

  20. Star Trek: The Motion Picture

    The U.S.S. Enterprise proudly soars again in this new, beautifully restored Director's Edition of the original Star Trek movie classic. This new Director's Cut

  21. Why Star Trek's Original Pilot, The Cage, Was Killed by NBC

    NBC. "The Cage" was made for a reported $630,000, and Gene Roddenberry made sure that money didn't go to waste. "Star Trek: The Original Series" Season 1's "The Menagerie" two-part episode ...

  22. Star Trek: The Next Generations 'Cause and Effect' Explained

    March 23, 1992. "Cause and Effect" opens with a gripping teaser in which the Enterprise-D suffers a cataclysmic collision, spins out of control, and explodes, killing everyone aboard. The episode ...

  23. The Fall Guy Gets Surprising Digital Release Date and Extended Cut Just

    By Timothy Adams - May 20, 2024 12:14 pm EDT. Fans of The Fall Guy will get to watch the Ryan Gosling and Emily Blunt film at home sooner than anticipated. The Fall Guy arrived in theaters on May ...

  24. Watch Star Trek: The Motion Picture Director's Cut

    Star Trek: The Motion Picture Director's Cut. The crew of the starship Enterprise take on an otherworldly force in this film based on the classic TV series. 3,442 IMDb 6.4 2 h 16 min 1979. ALL. Adventure · Science Fiction · Ambitious · Exciting. This video is currently unavailable. to watch in your location. Details.

  25. Inside How 'Star Trek: Discovery' Transformed A Toronto University

    Michael P. Cassabon is the Director of Advancement for the University of Toronto library system and a lifelong fan of Star Trek. The Fisher Library on The Ready Room Keep up with news about the ...

  26. Star Trek's New Warp Drive Breaks the Prime Directive in a Way No-One

    Star Trek #20 is written by Jackson Lanzing and Collin Kelly and drawn by Megan Levens.Thanks to T'Lir, the last Organian, the Theseus has been refitted with the "Kardashev Drive," capable of entering the Pleroma, or the Realm of the Gods.Overseeing the refit was Liam Shaw, who later meets with T'Lir over it.Shaw praises T'Lir for their design, but T'Lir deflects the praise to ...

  27. Watch Star Trek: The Motion Picture

    Star Trek: The Motion Picture. When an unidentified alien destroys three powerful Klingon cruisers, Captain James T. Kirk (William Shatner) returns to the newly transformed U.S.S. Enterprise™ to take command. 3,362 2 h 16 min 1979. PG. Adventure · Science Fiction · Ambitious · Stunning.