TMP Director's Edition Preview Debuts

By Amy
April 4, 2001 - 6:41 AM

One of the highlights of the weekend's 9th annual Grand Slam convention was the first ever appearance of Robert Wise, director of 'Star Trek: The Motion Picture' and the preview of the new special 'Directors Edition' DVD of the first Trek movie. Thanks to DVD, an in-depth report on the event is now online.

Wise opened at the convention by apologising for it being his first. "I very much wanted to begin celebrating this great event with the people who made Star Trek the success that continues to this day," he said. "Despite the fact that my wife Millicent was enough of a Trekkie to insist on being an extra in the film, this is the first convention we've attended, and I'm only sorry it's taken over twenty years!"

"If you were around in 1979 when the film was first released," he continued, "or even if you weren't, you might be aware of some of the challenges we faced in bringing Star Trek to the big screen. Those issues have been written about, and discussed among fans and filmmakers over the years, and while some of them are interesting anecdotes about our industry, they can, unfortunately get in the way of enjoying the film." Wise added that he hoped that "The Director's Edition will be a solution to that problem" - it is for him.

Wise, winner of multiple Oscars, has long refused to speak publicly about the film, which he felt was released in rough cut form. This happened after Paramount, with the set release date looming, removed him from what was already an accelerated editing process. "We faced many challenges on the film," he remembered, "but it has always been my personal opinion that several of them could have been fully overcome with just a bit of extra time at the end. As an editor, I learned that post-production time was infinitely valuable. But, unfortunately, time was the one thing we could not get more of on Star Trek... until now."

After having had had that little bit of extra time to work on the film, he could safely tell the audience that "I'm happy to say that I now believe it is the best film it can be. When I look at it now, I am no longer reminded of what we didn't get originally - rather, I see a film that everyone involved with can be proud of. It is my most heartfelt hope that everyone who sees it, and especially the most loyal fans, can now experience The Motion Picture and celebrate its quality and its ability to entertain after all these years."

"In many ways, 'The Director's Edition' was almost as challenging as making the film originally. Our goal was to put the finishing touches on the movie we were making over two decades ago. We wanted a final product that in every way reflected only what we wanted to achieve then, but accomplished with technology that we couldn't even dream of at the time. Such a task required a team of filmmakers who understood the technology, but who also understood the type of craftsmanship that the original team brought to it."

The preview itself, which was reportedly more of a trailer than a mere assemblage of clips, left many fans speculating over which pieces of footage they'd seen were new and which were part of the original stock or even the released version of the film itself. "There were gasps, more cheers and even some arguments afterwards," Peter M. Bracke, author of the article reported. "Never-before-seen shots, though mercilessly short, revealed more of the Vulcan landscape, a more intense V-GER and even a glowing, radiant Kirk framed by a docked Enterprise that thrilled many of the Trekkers in attendance."

Aside from watching Wise on stage, Bracke also had the opportunity to speak with other members of the production staff - producer David C. Fein. Fein warned fans not to expect an 'everything but the kitchen sink' approach the movie - that is, the addition of "'any and all old footage", not to mention tons of new special effects. "The goal was never to present the whole movie as simply a cut version of the script," he said. "We've created new shots that were never filmed, but they were always ones that were planned to be done but never completed."

Visual Effects Supervisor Daren Dochterman was like-minded. "That's the key to this entire project. To capture Robert Wise's original vision and let the audience just enjoy the experience," he said. "Fans of the original film will not be disappointed, and people who haven't liked the film will be pleasantly surprised."

More from the TPM 'Directors Edition' segment of the Grand Slam convention can be found by following this link to DVD

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