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Star Trek Generations Director Carson On (Re)Shooting Death Of Kirk May 12, 2011

by TrekMovie.com Staff , Filed under: Feature Films (TMP-NEM) , trackback

Director David Carson had the ignoble duty of being the man who had to shoot the death scene James T. Kirk, twice. In a new interview the Star Trek: Generations director talks about how he fought the studio, trying to at least give the icon Kirk the proper send off. Excerpts below.

 

Carson on shooting (and reshooting) the death of Kirk

Speaking to the official Star Trek site, David Carson recalled his thoughts on shooting (and then reshooting) the death of James T. Kirk in Star Trek Generations:

Kirk was to be shot in the back. What was written and what was accepted by the studio and the producers was never acceptable as far as I was concerned. I mean, here’s this great icon. This Captain Kirk is an icon. He means a lot to people. So to have him die in an ignominious way, when you’re shooting in this incredible mountain area… I fought for that not to happen, but lost the battle. And when we were out on the set I remember that Bill and Patrick and I called the studio to say, “Please, can we not do this? Can we do something else? Let’s stay here. Let’s re-write it.” Because we didn’t feel it was going to work. They did it as well as they could, but frankly, shooting somebody in the back on a narrow ledge on a mountainside is not the most dramatic way for someone to die, especially when the baddie, Malcolm McDowell, also got shot. So it was like an antiquated gunfight, if you like.

Of course Carson was right and the ending with Kirk being shot in the back tested poorly and the studio ordered a rewrite and reshoot of the scene. Carson explains the process:

So we shot for another two weeks, which cost a huge amount of money, and it was so disruptive of the final process. Dennis McCarthy, who wrote the score, wrote the score for the whole movie up to that point. He had 10 minutes to add and was waiting, waiting for us to finish editing it. However, I will say that the reshoots were very exciting. The crew loved doing it because it was such an action ending and much more fitting for Kirk. Captain Kirk’s death now meant something. Before, being shot in the back, it meant absolutely nothing. This time he really saved the day. So it was well worthwhile in the end, I think.

For those that haven’t seen it, here is rough video of the original version of the Kirk death scene in Star Trek: Generations.

For more from Carson on his other Star Trek TV see full interview: Part 1 & Part 2.

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stephen whelan
May 12, 2011 3:55 pm

so glad they changed it…being shot in the back just doesnt seem a fitting end to Kirk

captain_neill
May 12, 2011 3:57 pm

Having seen this on the DVD deleted scenes, I believe they went with the better one.

I would have been pissed off if they had done the original ending. Being shot in the back is a terrible way to kill a legend such as Kirk

GaryP
May 12, 2011 3:59 pm

Oh yes. LOOOVE how he fell off of a bridge.

That’s so much more fitting.

Thanks Dave.

Go buy a clue.

John from Cincinnati
May 12, 2011 4:00 pm

Both versions suck.

May 12, 2011 4:00 pm

Terrible quality but here’s somebody else who had a bash at recreating the original ending.

http://youtu.be/enBoGjEr2H8

They’ve made some attempt to put the unused score in and add the Nexus & rocket explosion.

SoonerDave
May 12, 2011 4:08 pm

A sucky ending by any other name…..

May 12, 2011 4:10 pm

1. Okay, so they went from worse to bad.

2. Apparently, delivering a sound ass kicking to Malcolm McDowell is harder than it looks.

BrodyKoss
May 12, 2011 4:12 pm

What a waste of a movie. Seriously.

May 12, 2011 4:15 pm

Something that’s always bugged me, as good as the Blu ray/DVD special editions are… there are yet more Deleted Scenes kicking around the web.

I know most would continue to despise Generations no matter which version, but I’d actually like to see an alternative grim version… to compare with the final theatrical cut, if the day ever comes Paramount can retransfer some of this material. Or at least, cut material that’s not the ropey videotape extracts (with a timecode burnt in) we’ve seen so far.

Dee - lvs moon' surface
May 12, 2011 4:16 pm

I hated it! … Whatever… :-( :-(

SoonerDave
May 12, 2011 4:17 pm

This movie, more than anything else, demonstrated how obsessed Berman was with putting his own imprimatur on Trek and doing his best to eliminate any vestige of its legacy. The absolutely pointless killing of Kirk is the single biggest blunder in the entire history of the Trek franchise.

Refuge5
May 12, 2011 4:30 pm

Shit….

Commodore Mike of the Terran Empire
May 12, 2011 4:30 pm

Rick Berman really screwed this Movie up. At least the reshoot of Kirks Death meant soomething. Berman was just trying to kill Kirk to just get rid of him.

Alika
May 12, 2011 4:43 pm

Both versions are ridiculous.

Jas_montreal
May 12, 2011 4:46 pm

What’s wrong with Kirk getting shot in the back ? The whole idea of the film was that we can’t escape the sad realities of life, which is death. Getting shot in the back was perhaps the best way to represent that notion. I guess ppl wanted a happy ending, as most of us do. It was a business decision to satisfy the masses, who failed to see the greater idea of the story.

The Red Shirt Diaries
May 12, 2011 4:50 pm
11-So right! Rick Berman to Ronald Moore and Brannon Braga: “Well we finally have our own movie, how do we get rid of that stupid sixties show and make people see mine as the only Star Trek? Braga:…ummmm… we could kill Captain Kirk and therefore kill that legacy. Berman: YES!!! And we can have Picard “bury” Kirk to symbolically “bury” that stupid old show. Moore: I think that idea sucks. I know Gene wouldn’t have,,, Berman interrupting: Gene shmeen. This is my baby, not his. Lets kill that old bastard, and by that I mean both Kirk and that stupid… Read more »
4 8 15 16 23 42
May 12, 2011 4:55 pm

Hmm… I actually think the original ending is more powerful and, somehow, meaningful. However, I will always contend that killing Kirk in Generations, in any manner, was a mistake.

Pensive's Wetness
May 12, 2011 4:59 pm

ugh….

May 12, 2011 5:01 pm

There were two pointless things in Generations, 1) Killing off Kirk, how the hell did Shat ever consent to this? If I were him, I would have flat out refused being killed off. 2) blowing up the Enterprise-D. Sure it made for a cool crash scene, but why? Was it really that bad of a ship that they had to get rid of it for a more “movie friendly Enterprise?” I really wish we could say this one was non-canon.

njdss4
May 12, 2011 5:06 pm

Neither ending was any good, but at least the ending that’s in the official release is the better of the two. Getting shot in the back is a slap in the face to Shatner and all Trek fans.

They should have just had Kirk wind up in the Nexus again. Give a way for Kirk to basically be eternal, and have a way for him to come back at any point in the Trek timeline so that fans could go crazy with their fanfics and not force Shatner to write his own book to bring Kirk back.

Talos IV
May 12, 2011 5:06 pm
Let be honest here…both endings were a HORRIBLE ending for Captain Kirk. Captain Kirk should NEVER have died falling or being shot in the back. This is the same Captain Kirk that survived a Mugatu bite, fell from Mount Everest, has been in many near death experiences with Klingons, Romulans and Salt Vampires. He survived torture from the Vians. He fought and won on the planet Triskelion. Escaped by a narrow margin being beamed back aboard the Enterprise while the Defiant was being eaten by the Doomsday Machine. Held on to one last breath while he was trapped in innerspace… Read more »
TrekkieJan
May 12, 2011 5:08 pm

I waited 15 years to watch this miserable movie – I refused to see it in the theater. And then it was worse than I thought. The Kirkless fan version is better. That was a crummy thing to do to Kirk and Shatner.

rm10019
May 12, 2011 5:12 pm

Huge mistake. Both Moore and Braga have said they let too many cooks into the kitchen for the plotting of this movie.

And I still don’t understand the difficulty in bringing him back if anyone really wanted to, there is an Echo of Kirk in the Nexus, just as there was one of Guinan there. Just say that Spock was able to stabalize the echo and bring him back, it’s really just one line of dialogue that no casual fan or lay person would blink at.

Ralph F
May 12, 2011 5:15 pm
subspacejock
May 12, 2011 5:24 pm
The re-shot death scene of Kirk is almost worse than what they originally put in the can..Because they unbelievably thought they were going out of their way to make Kirk’s death more heroic with that lame reshoot. “Generations” was terrible on a number of levels. I won’t even waste time listing them. It’s easier and more fun to note when Star Trek does it right. I’m not a giant fan of Abrams & Company’s take on Star Trek, but at least I don’t have to fear the horrifyingly bad storytelling and direction that Berman, Carson and crew inflicted on Star… Read more »
Phil
May 12, 2011 5:34 pm

Still think that had Shatner actually said “Kirk dosen’t die” this story would have been shelved. It was a bad concept all the was around, but then, so was Trek III.

Dr. Cheis
May 12, 2011 5:57 pm
The original version just looks like old people fighting. I DO think getting shot is a more dramatic ending for Kirk than falling from a bridge, but the problem with the original version was it was just he gets shot after all the fighting is over. Like, oh, and now he dies. The problem with the bridge scene was that Kirk’s death falling from the bridge was out of his control. He put himself in that situation, true, but once there all he could do was wait for the bridge to fall or not fall. There wasn’t very much drama… Read more »
Alec
May 12, 2011 6:06 pm
Terrible first version: Kirk is physically beaten-up by Soron; Kirk, our hero, cowers on his knees before Soron, after having been shot in the back, and after making a pithy comment in a death-cliche; too much footage of Picard and his computer screen where nothing’s happening; Soron trying to ‘jump’ into the Nexus….Soron is shot once, after all that fuss….and Kirk dies without saying anything… Positively awful, I’m afraid. However, I actually like Generations: the final version. It’s probably my favourite TNG film. It has an interesting story; good cinematography, aided by those beautful model shots; it has a lot… Read more »
fansincesixtynine
May 12, 2011 6:07 pm

Awful. Just awful.

Give me TOS, or give me death
May 12, 2011 6:08 pm

As terrible as Generations is, besides Berman to blame there is always Shatner to blame too. Should of just stay retired Shat.

NoRez
May 12, 2011 6:10 pm
Both are terrible (and I’ve always felt there was no reason to kill Kirk – there’s no reason to kill off characters central to an epic, you close a door on future imaginations. [Hoban Washburne and Shepherd Book notwithstanding. But I digress…] Personally though, I actually prefer the unused ending – again, not to say I ‘liked’ it. The great Kirk succombing to something as simple and undramatic seems more ‘epic’ to me; the cinematic pun of Kirk ‘dying on the bridge’ was as comical as it was stupefying. Plus, there was more hand-to-hand combat, which is always fun to… Read more »
Kev-1
May 12, 2011 6:13 pm

Didn’t like either version. Can’t see any reason to ditch Kirk at all. I thought it might have made financial sense (for them) to get rid of Shatner’s paycheck –now and forever– but they ended up paying Stewart as much or more.

Planet Pandro
May 12, 2011 6:16 pm
I had a thought that it might have even been better if Kirk’s death was on the 1701-B the way everyone on that ship THOUGHT it was. If they had the entire original cast for the maiden voyage of the Ent-B, and then Kirk running down to deflector control, explosion, and that is the point where he died. the original crew is stunned by the tragic turn of events, say some poetic words, and then flash forward to the rest of the movie. NO meeting of the two captains. I think that was the mistake. It would have been more… Read more »
Let Them Eat Plomeek Soup
May 12, 2011 6:21 pm

Kirk deserved a better death scene. I remember watching the end of Generations and thinking, “What the hell is this? He’s Captain Kirk! He doesn’t die by falling off a bridge–he’s to awesome for his last words to be ‘It was fun–oh my!'”

If there’s going to be a Kirk death scene, forgive me if I’m being blunt, but I wish they’d just kill him again in a new movie to make up for Generations.

Alec
May 12, 2011 6:22 pm
23. rm10019 – May 12, 2011 Well, there’s always that posibility: perhaps leaving that imprint was for that reason; Kirk, a time-less Kirk, can be ressurected at any point. Also, this way, Kirk never dies: never truly leaves our universe. 26. Phil – May 12, 2011 I agree that GEN and TSFS were both fan-boy films. But GEN appeals to a larger audience: people who might want to see Kirk and Picard in one film. That will appeal more to the mainstream that simply searching for Spock, when, of course, we all knew he would be found. In fact, Meyer… Read more »
Craiger
May 12, 2011 6:25 pm

Kirk should have helped saved the day and beamed to the rescue ship with Picard and Riker from the wrecked Enterprise bridge alive.

Phil
May 12, 2011 6:27 pm

@30. Been making that point for a while now, that had Shat decided that Kirk needed to live, this stinker of a script would have been dumped. Can’t kill Kirk if Shat’s not in the movie now, can we?

trekker 5
May 12, 2011 6:32 pm

#4 there you go! It was awful,when i say awful,i mean BAD!! I don’t know,its just that were talking about Kirks death scene here,he should have had a better death scene than that!!

joe
May 12, 2011 6:41 pm
I am glad they reshot it. The death scene in the theatrical version was much better. I can swear that Kirk even put up a much better fight in the theatrical version and the interaction between the characters was much better in the theatrical version. Soran: Who are you? Picard: He’s James T. Kirk. Don’t you read history? Soran: As a matter of fact I am familiar with history and if I’m not too much mistaken, aren’t you dead? Also I am not one that has problems with the death of Kirk no matter how much I liked that character.… Read more »
4 8 15 16 23 42
May 12, 2011 6:45 pm
One of the things that bothered me right from the moment I first saw Generations in the theater, was the whole illogical construct of the Nexus. You can’t “fix” a timeline; you only get a new, alternate one. That’s why I like how the story of ST2009 is put together; it is built around the concept of multiverse. To make this comment directly relevant to this thread, if we buy into the idea of “fixing” a timeline at all, then by frustrating Soran’s plans, at the moment the rocket fires prematurely and fails to alter the course of the Nexus,… Read more »
SoonerDave
May 12, 2011 6:59 pm
@35 – Sorry, but I just don’t agree with all the sophistry. The whole point of fiction is that characters don’t have to obey the rules that real people do, and that means that such characters most certainly do *not* have to die. Kirk’s death was pointless and gratuitous, and added exactly *nothing* to the “Generations” storyline (except, perhaps, to demonstrate Picard’s utlimate grafted-in impotence as a character). “Too much for realism?” As opposed to an FTL starship, phasers, transporters, and Vulcans? Think about that for a second. The Bond analogy is flawed, because primarily the producers ran out of… Read more »
Driver
May 12, 2011 7:13 pm

Kirk’s last words “Oh my.” is now George Takei’s signature line. So that’s where he got it. Mmmmm.

Keachick (rose pinenut)
May 12, 2011 7:15 pm
I think that falling from the bridge and dying the way Kirk did, after saving those planets, was better than having him shot in the back. However, it did not make sense that Picard buried him there. It would not have been protocol even. It was just nuts. I’ve already said how I think it should have ended with a very minor change to script. It could have worked even if you had Kirk say those words, “Oh my!” but not dying, just losing consciousness. Picard stays with him until the rescue ships come and both are beamed aboard. We… Read more »
Jason
May 12, 2011 7:18 pm

maybe if they make a new star trek movie they can bring back the enterprise-d

Keachick (rose pinenut)
May 12, 2011 7:30 pm

Yes, Driver, that is where George Takei got the “Oh my!” from. I would love it if somehow if Shatner or Pine/Kirk could take it back, without, obviously, of course, having the alternate Kirk die in order to do so. George Takei seems to be everything but original…Oh dear, perhaps I’m being fair here…oh well.

Jorge
May 12, 2011 7:31 pm

killing off Kirk was a good decision, even though it could’ve worked without Kirk being in the 24th century and just at the beginning like Chekov and Scotty. Shatnerverse makes no sense. The original ending is too slow with too much fist fighting which looked a little cheesy in places in the final edit too.

Keachick (rose pinenut)
May 12, 2011 7:37 pm

Edit: “I would love it if somehow Shatner…” (too many if’s – ugh)

Typo or Freudian slip on my part – “perhaps I’m being fair…” I meant to type, “perhaps I’m being unfair…”, on the other hand, was the first version the correct one? Not sure now. You decide.

Jack
May 12, 2011 7:38 pm
40. I know. I guess the Nexus let Picard go back to his body at that point, bringing Kirk with him and, er, creating an alternate timeline, and unicorns. I know. Is that scene A LOT longer than the final scene? It seemed like Kirk a lot less screentime in the final version, which I like… but yeah, a line or two would have been nice. I wonder if Soran’s “you… you” (wascally wabbit?) would have been heard in the finished version. I prefer the shot in the back to the fall, and to the being sucked into space while… Read more »
Cygnus-X1
May 12, 2011 7:40 pm
I can’t say enough bad things about the travesty known as Generations. It was an awful, awful movie and a great injustice to the franchise. But I will say that the above scene works better without the background score. Apart from the inappropriateness of Kirk’s demise, I think the scene works much better and is more powerful, bare-bones, without music and with just the sound of the wind, the earth and the people. If the man shot in the back in the above scene were not James T. Kirk, and it were not a scene from a ridiculous story unworthy… Read more »
Harry Ballz
May 12, 2011 7:42 pm

The death of Kirk in Generations was one of the worst, as in stupid, moments in the history of cinema!

Rick Berman should be horsewhipped for recommending such GARBAGE!

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