The Shuttle Pod Examines ‘Star Trek: The Motion Picture – The Director’s Edition’

The Shuttle Pod crew is back, and this time they’re discussing the 2022 Director’s Edition of The Motion Picture. This is easily the biggest “Legacy Trek” project since the remastering of The Next Generation. Join them as the podcasters give an overview of the rushed release in 1979, and why legendary director Robert Wise didn’t really get his final cut until the 2001 release of The Director’s Edition on DVD which helped to refine the film with a more polished narrative. They delve into what exactly makes the DE different from other versions out there, with a brief overview of the changes, along with a specific discussion of the new 2022 version.

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A few links of interest related to this podcast:

Video review of the V’Ger replica from Eaglemoss that matches the model to images from TMP which helps to place everything we see in the film.

A bullet pointed list of the changes made for the 2001 DE can be found in the IMDb alternate versions page for The Motion Picture.

A through visual guide to the 2001 Director’s Edition changes can be found in this annotated Google Photos album from the Twitter account @startrekviscomp. The author will be doing a new 2022 version soon too.

This is new video that compares the sound editing for the different editions.


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There’s a sound-editing comparison of the various versions of the film that I found rather illuminating at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jfwtpbuGd0w

Not that I’m likely to give it a fair shot given how much I don’t like the ways and means of these ‘fixes’ but It really sounds like a lot of change-for-change’s-sake rather than improvements, though a couple of these examples do improve ‘presence’ for lack of a better word. Most of them just sound wrong to my ear, but that was true of the DE as well. It also served as a comparison point for the look of the various versions (this newest one looks ilke it reads as colder in many shots – DeFalco near the end of the comparison seems like she is practically in a James Cameron film, it is so drained of warmth.

I have to say, most of the changes look/sound pretty good to me. Thanks for the link.

Hmm, I’m not sure about change for change’s sake. The theatrical edition sound mix was a rush job, like the rest of the movie. There were lots of lines recorded by the actors that were never mixed into the film due to time constraints. The bridge always felt lifeless and dead in the theatrical too as there was no ambient noise…no bridge ‘hum’. I also always found the theatrical cut ‘flat’…no body. Voices and sound effects all felt muddled together. I really enjoy how everything sounds now. Personally for me it sounds amazing.

The mixing was done in a hurry, but most of the sound effects were developed over a period of some months, and accomplished to such a degree that Wise wrote commendations for the artists, specifically for how the original (and to my mind, infinitely better-sounding) wormhole sequence stuff played.

I really like how the bg voices are only occasionally busy-sounding in the theatrical, because it isn’t like you’ve got all decks clamoring for stuff all the time, which makes for a busy soundtrack in the same way aurally that you get visually in having all your blinkies blinking constantly, you’ve got no visual way to amp things up when the rock is about to hit (am paraphrasing Joe Jennings there, but that’s the gist.) It seems to me that you can orchestrate the sound for dramatic effect (see THE SIEGE, for when a meeting is interrupted by a few cellphones going off, followed by all cellphones going off, as folks get notified of a terrorist attack), and that can be more effective than just the busy drone that was fine on TOS but to me not so great for the feature (you know what I mean, that ‘after phaser to bridge’ loop.)

The klaxons and alarms from the Fein Bunch just play really obnoxious to my ear, so coupled with these other weirdnesses, imagine I will only buy the theatrical on 4K and just close my eyes during the drydock departure (and some other moments where the VFX go soft, or so I’ve been told.) Either that or I’ll just stick with my 09 Blus, which, even with crappy application of DNR, seem watchable to me and very much recreate the theatrical experience as I recall it (augmented by looks at the 1980 calendar images, which very much match my memories of the film, in terms of the visual disappointment of the live-action lighting, most especially around the time of, “you’re pushing, Jim.”

Wait, this is a tangent, but what did you uncover as being the real reason for the Pepto Bismol blood in TUC? No idea when a relevant topic will present itself, and I’m dying to know!

It wasn’t a matter of uncovering anything, at the time of the interviews (nov 91), the vfx folk were very straight about the only ratings concern being volume of blood, not color, and since they weren’t doing a Peckinpah-style bloodbath, there was no real issue. They had references for zero-g liquids from Skylab and other spaceborne experimentation, so that fueled their CG work.

But around 1993, Berman gave an interview, probably in THE COMMUNICATOR if they’d retitled it that by then, and mentioned that the blood color was done for ratings reasons — not that he was in any real position to know, since his involvement on TUC was fairly modest, enabling set borrowing and Worf borrowing. I found it an extremely stupid remark on top of being flat-out incorrect … the odd color if anything made the scene more disturbing, something borne out by an interview I read with an amateur filmmaker who made the wonderful EXTENDED PLAY short over 40 years back. He experimented with using various blood colors (the film is set in an arcade where the vidgame shoots back, blowing away people all over the room), and they gave up on that right away as pushing from funny-extreme (like a pre-ROBOCOP funny) to just plain gross.

The blood color was strictly a matter of differentiating Klingon from human in a way that would tie in at the end of the movie when West is revealed beneath a klingon mask (which was eliminated from the theatrical cut.)

I was very dismayed that the Berman remark got accepted everywhere at face value, and repeated ad infinitum in print for decades. Shoot, Nick Meyer apparently misremembers the whole business according to people who read his memoir. Clearly a case of, when the truth isn’t hot enough, print the legend.

I don’t think they’re archived, but there must be a couple dozen trekbbs threads about klingon blood color from 20 or so years back that hash and rehash this again and again. Probably a couple on hobbytalk too, come to think of it.

Fascinating! I’d no idea it originated with Berman.

Well, he could have been repeating it after hearing from someone else, but I don’t recall any stories predating his comment, so I dunno.

Totally agree. It’s a minor pleasure, hearing that old bridge sound effect, even if it is muted.

No adjustments to color timing could seriously affect, one way or the other, Marcy Lafferty’s performance as DiFalco, which was positively dreadful, a prime example of Hollywood nepotism at its absolute worst. I’d be willing to bet that poor Robert Wise shuddered through every second of it.

Ol’ Marcy got saddled with some tough assignments beyond just staying married to Shat. I remember a TJ HOOKER she did where she played a blind person who could identify an assailant’s racial makeup by the sound of his voice. (wonder how that would have worked if she was witness to a crime committed by James Earl Jones or Robert Townsend in full Caucasian mode?)

Holy shit, really!? I’m guessing that wouldn’t play today, and thank God for that.

I actually wrote an 800 word reply on this, going into a few deep friendships and perceived betrayals and such, fueled by recollections of this one guy who didn’t see anything weird about that HOOKER episode back at the time of original airing (and how I utterly missed the prejudice embedded in such a view — based on web activity, the guy went on to full Trumptard status by ’16), along with a couple other people I knew from early in life, but rather than post it, I think I’m going to try writing it as a short story (something I haven’t attempted in decades.)

I’d be interested in check that out, for sure. Hard to fathom that people at that late date though that was okay.

I remember the one time I saw Shatner in person he admitted that he had no idea why Trek was so enormously popular, and joked in passing — at least, I hope it was a joke — that perhaps a few years down the road we’d be having T.J. Hooker conventions. At which I shook my head and thought, well, that’s why the character was your childhood hero, rather than the (admittedly charismatic) actor who played him on TV.

I am glad the crew mentioned that lounge scene. It’s the biggest issue in the whole movie right now. Please Paramount+, allow the team to do a few more tweaks to the film prior to bluray release and fix that lounge scene as well as better integrate a few of the CGI scenes.

The opening shots of the Klingon ships in the beginning against the cloud are pretty rough too…not sure if those matte lines could be improved for the physical release.

I don’t like to be critical but the movie is just soooo close to perfection.

I really don’t know what they could do about that opening, you’re matting over a light background and instead of like most of Apogee’s work, it was shot double-pass — by a company that didn’t have much experience shooting double-pass (and if you look at a lot of the stuff in STAR WARS where the mo-con system wasn’t just right, like the engine glows in the X-Wings, that is pretty obvious, though it was ‘fixed’ in the special editions by replacing the nice model shots with a BABYLON-5 looking cartoon wraparound shot of the Rebel fleet that has become my mental poster child for disimproving visuals.)

The claim is that the background for that shot wasn’t approved till 2 weeks before the very end, so there were probably only a couple of attempts at the comp … plus I’m betting those are some of the bits where some of the original elements are gone.

Oh yes, it’s very obvious that there were no original elements to be found for those scenes but they could definitely still be cleaned up a bit by hand. It’s the very first shot in the movie so it should grab you for all the right reasons. The worst shot is the three cruisers are very tiny, flying toward the cloud. The technology definitely exists to tidy up the matte lines…or…heaven forbid, create a clean background plate and comp some CGI cruisers in for the worst shots against the cloud. They’re small enough that it’s not going to stand out terribly. It’s not a huge deal but in terms of bringing everything up to a similar quality, it would be worth it.

Really. I’m mostly down on what they chose to fix, but there’s an occasional head-scratcher, and it would be interesting to know where “It’s a ’70s-era movie so deal with its technical imperfections” (the obvious matte lines in the opening shots) left-off and “This can’t be allowed to stand” (the Enterprise saucer-walk) took over. Yeah, that second shot is terrible — it wouldn’t be a convincing comp even without the matte lines — and you’d think with a clean background plate of the cloud and some CGI Klingon cruisers it would be an easy fix. Hell, I’ve seen some pretty respectable fan stabs at a re-do on YouTube.

As always, I really enjoyed the podcast. Thanks to the crew. I have to say after all these years “The Motion Picture” is still my favorite. I was 14 in 1979 and couldn’t wait for this movie. The change from a small TV screen to the movie screen was amazing. This is the only Star Trek film that had that sense of awe and wonder like Kubrick’s 2001. A true science fiction film. Finally found some time to enjoy the 4k release. It feels so much more what I believe Robert Wise had in mind after such a troubled production. Considering the time constraints that the effects crew were under, they managed to pull off some of the best miniature photography ever put on the screen. Give me the long slow flyovers over some of todays manic CGI anytime.

I really do not like most of the work done on this film for the DE – a lot of it is frankly appalling. The color grading is all over the map, the CGI shots integrate less well into the surrounding footage than they did on the 21 year old DVD version of the DE, and well, I think Zoom does a better job of placing me into a background than was done on the officer lounge scene…

Thanks for the podcast, which as ever I really enjoyed listening to. It’ll be a while before I can see it for myself as here in the UK Paramount+ is still a way off but it was great to hear your takes on this iteration.

I was also struck by your comments about you continuing to do this podcast. I totally get that it must be quite a crunch on your schedules but Trekmovie wouldn’t be the same without you and I hope your voyages will continue for some time to come. You’ve covered a lot of Star Trek over the years but as I’ve mentioned previously, very little on “Enterprise”, with the exception of the final episode (for obvious reasons) and I continue to hope you might do a deep dive into the series or pick out your 10 best episodes in a future podcast. Thanks again.

Thanks for the kind words. You’re right about ‘Enterprise’, we had intended to do larger discussion of the show last year for its 20th anniversary. I like the idea of a 10 best episodes podcast, that might be a little less daunting for us.

Sounds great Matt and thanks again to you and the rest of the shuttle pod crew for all do for us fans.

Great podcast episode. I’ve got to say, between the general Shuttlepod podcast and RMB’s commentary, I have found a new passion for TMP, especially the director’s edition. I’ll be going to see it in theaters on May 22nd.

Any chance you can share a link to that first Shuttlepod ep you mentioned at the end there?