We have another update on the Star Trek sequel, this time JJ Abrams and Bob Orci talk about how they are looking to the roots of Star Trek and how it has been a way to tell modern-day allegories, possibly dealing with war and torture. Latest details come from a new LA Times, interview, excerpts below.
Abrams and Orci, looking for an allegory
Star Trek on TV and in the feature films has famously dealt with issues of the day. And apparently Bob Orci and JJ Abrams are looking to bring some of that allegorical element to the next Trek. Firstly JJ told the LA Times:
"The ambition for a sequel to ‘Star Trek’ is to make a movie that’s worthy of the audience and not just another movie, you know, just a second movie that feels tacked on. The first movie was so concerned with just setting up the characters — their meeting each and galvanizing that family — that in many ways a sequel will have a very different mission. it needs to do what [the late ‘Trek’ creator Gene] Roddenberry did so well, which is allegory. It needs to tell a story that has connection to what is familiar and what is relevant. It also needs to tell it in a spectacular way that hides the machinery and in a primarily entertaining and hopefully moving story. There needs to be relevance, yes, and that doesn’t mean it should be pretentious. If there are simple truths — truths connected to what we live — that elevates any story — that’s true with any story."
And Bob Orci added:
We’ve literally had two meetings now. We haven’t decided anything but we’re starting to circle around some ideas. We got a lot of fan response from the first one and a considerable amount of critical response and one of the things we heard was, ‘Make sure the next one deals with modern-day issues.’ We’re trying to keep it as up-to-date and as reflective of what’s going on today as possible. So that’s one thing, to make it reflect the things that we are all dealing with today.
So what modern day issues? Is War and Torture in our Trek future?, Here is another excerpt:
I asked Orci somewhat flippantly if that meant we might see Starfleet grappling with the ethics of torture or dealing with a rising terrorist threat or perhaps a painful, politicized war with the Klingons.
"Well yeah, those are the kind of issues we’re talking about. Wow, you’re good! But seriously that’s the way we’re thinking, that’s an approach. So if you have any ideas … "
More at LA Times
Star Trek and Allegories
There are many examples of Star Trek dealing with issues of the day, some of which even evolved over time, like how the Klingons were always the stand-in for the Soviet Union during the cold-war in the 60s on Star Trek: The Original Series [see clip below] and then detente of the late 80s and 90s in The Next Generation and Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country.
Although torture is an issue of today, it was also something that was explored in the season six TNG episode "Chains of Command".
Osama bin Khan? Tali-Klingons?
This talk of modern-day allegory brings back the talk of whether the film will be going back to the well and bringing back original series elements, or creating their own. Even though they may be doing a modern story, they could always use a classic baddie. Being that we are in an alternative universe, it is possible that the Star Trek team could reshape a famous Trekkie baddie to be a stand-in for the modern era. Khan could emerge in this time to be some kind of terrorist leader. Klingons, who were cut out of the Star Trek movie, could come back for the sequel as some kind of allegorical space Taliban, who knows.
All in all it is good to see Abrams and Orci looking back to the roots of Trek for inspiration. Using sci-fi and Star Trek to tell a modern story is great, and in fact this summer’s District 9 was a prime example of how well the genre can tell a nuanced and thought-provoking topical story. However, hopefully it can be done without losing the optimism that worked so well in the 2009 Star Trek movie.
"District 9" – a sci-fi film dealing deftly with S. Africa race relations