Star Trek : The Motion Picture, the beginning of what is now a series of 10 movies, with a 11th in the making (which as we Trekkies know, is a prequel). I have finally got it. After a long search, which lasted almost 2 years, I found that someone had uploaded the movie in Veoh.com. Thank you, someone! Bolstered by the cult status of the original series in the 1970s and the success of Star Wars, Gene Roddenberry decided to make a full length feature film, bringing back the original series characters. Let’s start : A massive energy cloud destroys 3 Klingon ships and a Starfleet monitoring station, Epsilon 9, that it encounters en route. The cloud seems to be heading for Earth. As the nearest ship in the intercept range, the USS Enterprise is assigned to stop the destructive alien force. Admiral James T. Kirk assumes command of his former vessel, much to the dismay of the current captain Willard Decker. Meanwhile Spock, who is on his home planet of Vulcan, does not complete his kolinahr ritual. His failure to complete kolinahr and purge his emotions has led him to seek his answers on the Enterprise and the feeling of a conciousness that seems to be emination from the cloud.
Before Spock’s arrival on the Enterprise, tensions are high on the vessel, mainly due to Kirk’s unfamiliarity with the recent changes made in the refitting of the starship. An imbalance in the calibration of the ship’s warp engines resulting in the formation of an artificial wormhole. And testing of its new systems goes poorly, including a malfunctioning transporter that kills the science officer and one other. The ship has a new navigator, Lieutenant Ilia, an emphatic Deltan, played by the late Miss India Persis Khambatta. Decker has had a romantic past with Illia and it is obvious that they both have feelings for each other. The Enterprise intercepts the alien cloud, survives its initial assault, and journeys inside the cloud, finding a vast alien vessel, which draws the starship inside. An alien probe appears on the bridge and attacks Spock after he tries to prevent it from gathering sensitive Starfleet information.
The probe abducts Ilia and is replaced by a robotic probe version of her (with Ilia’s memories buried in it’s mind. She says that she has been sent to study the “carbon-based units” (humans) by a living machine called V’Ger. V’Ger claims to be looking for its creator and that it is going to merge with it. Meanwhile, Spock takes a spacewalk into the alien vessel, and attempts to telepathically mind meld with it. In doing so, he learns that the vessel is V’ger itself; a living machine. He also comes to terms with his emotions, realizing that the pure logic V’ger represents is “barren… cold”. The ship travels to the center of the V’Ger, to where the main part lies and to their astonishment, they discover that V’Ger is actually Voyager 6 – an unmanned scientific probe, which was (fictitiously) part of the NASA Voyager program, and launched in the “twentieth century”.
The damaged probe was found by an alien race of living machines, who mistook it for a god and interpreted its programming as instructions to “learn all that is learnable” and return that information to its creator. These machines made V’ger into something capable of fulfilling that mission, and “on its journey back it gathered so much knowledge that it achieved consciousness itself!” And now, since it has fulfilled its mission it needs to bring this information to its creator. In the climax of the film, V’ger (in the persona of the Ilia probe) merges with Commander Decker and then vanishes into a higher realm of being. Earth is saved and the crew of the Enterprise go on to another adventure.
The movie grossed $82,258,456 in the U.S. and $139,000,000 worldwide, considered to be disappointing, considering its large $46,000,000 budget. The film was nominated for three Academy Awards, for Best Art Direction-Set Decoration, Best Effects and Best Music.
Footnote: It has been suggested that the alien race of living machines were the predecessors of the Borg. In the movie when the probe Ilia tries to resist the programming given to it because of residual memories and feelings for Decker. When V’ger becomes aware of this, it is aware that “the resistance was futile, of course”.