Director Robert Wise Dies at 91

By Michelle
September 15, 2005 - 4:22 PM

Star Trek: The Motion Picture director Robert Wise has died at the age of 91.

The Oscar-winning producer and director, best known for the classic musicals West Side Story and The Sound of Music, was in good health when he celebrated his birthday last weekend, reported the Associated Press via CNN. His most recent involvement with Star Trek was when he worked on the 2001 Director's Edition of Star Trek: The Motion Picture.

A seven-time Oscar nominee, Wise was cited for editing Orson Welles' legendary Citizen Kane as well as for his directing skills. His movies included the science fiction classics The Day the Earth Stood Still and The Andromeda Strain as well as westerns, war stories and character dramas. "I'd rather do my own thing, which has been to choose projects that take me into all different kinds of genres," he told The Associated Press.

The Spanish newspaper El Mundo reported that he was due to be celebrated at the San Sebastian International Film Festival which begins today. Forty of his films will be shown at the he Classic Retrospective of the festival. His wife was in Spain to accept an award in his honour but has returned to the US.

In 2004, Wise participated in a Q&A with about the rerelease of Star Trek: The Motion Picture. "When Star Trek came along I felt it was a good opportunity to do a science-fiction film set in space," he recalled. "They wanted an epic feeling for the picture, but it had to be made relatively quickly, so I guess they wanted somebody who could meet that challenge...we were forced to start filming the picture with a script that was still being worked on." He said he welcomed the opportunity to "finally get Star Trek finished" when he had the opportunity to recut it for the special edition, because it had been rushed into release before he felt it was complete.

"I enjoyed Gene [Roddenberry] and the original cast very much," he added. "We all worked together to get the best work on film. What I tried to do, having seen many of the original episodes, was to work on making the Enterprise feel like a completely real place...a completely believable environment for our characters."

Born on September 10th, 1914 in Indiana, Wise left college during the Depression to take a job at RKO. He became a film editor, then a director who ultimately won the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences' Irving G. Thalberg Award and the Directors Guild of America's D.W. Griffith Award - both organisations that at one time Wise headed.

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