Shatner Talks 'Final Frontier' DisappointmentsBy Antony
February 10, 2003 - 10:40 PM
William Shatner (James T. Kirk) has spoken about 'Star Trek V: The Final Frontier', both his original vision and subsequent disappointments.
"Secretly, in my heart of hearts, I knew that what I had was grand," he told Nick Setchfield at SFX. "What I got right was the concept. Star Trek goes in search of God — that was a good idea. What a grand canvas to think about." However, Shatner explained that there were more fundamental problems for the film, which up until recently was the lowest grossing Trek movie. "What I didn't know was how to politically push those ideas through. Gene Roddenberry said to me, 'God won't work.'"
Shatner also had specific plans for the characters, wanting them to "be in conflict" in the movie. "That would be resolved by their love for one another," he said. "And there was a messianic character, with an army of followers, which presaged all that's happening now in the world. So I got all that right. And then it... went wrong."
Shatner hoped that the trend of collector's editions for Trek movies would allow him to realise his vision. "I went in to Paramount to appeal for money, $200,000 to $400,000, most of which I would have spent on special effects for a more exciting ending. Then ending that I had originally imagined wasn't there due to lack of funds and whatever other poetical shenanigans were going on. I never actually achieved the ending that I wanted, and it's a major fault in the film. "
However, even Captain Kirk couldn't win this battle. "I went to see the people who do the DVDs, and part of my sales pitch was that they would get their money back by the number of DVDs they would sell to people interested in seeing what I wanted to do. It seems like it would sell itself, doesn't it? But I couldn't convince them. NOt a frame of film has changed."
The full interview can be found in the February 2003 issue, #101, of SFX magazine.
At his official website, Shatner has also posted about a play he developed and is set to direct.
"Perhaps one of the most exciting projects I've got slated for this year," he told readers of his website, "is a play called 'Harry and Arthur' that I am to direct. The project developed out of an idea I had invented based on a meeting between Harry Houdini, the great magician, and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, the great writer. Although they had actually met, I fictionalised what happened during their meeting. That story became the basis of a book I wrote with my dear friend, Michael Tobias. We have now used that book as the basis of the play.
"The invention that I had created was that Harry Houdini was the great debunker of spiritualism and that Sir Arthur Conan Doyle was the 1920s' great spiritualist. The play is about the conflicts of their ideas, which is essentially the debate about life versus death." More on the project, along with an update of Shatner's other work can be found here at his website.