To celebrate the release of Star Trek Into Darkness, the Flickering Myth writing team look back at the classic sci-fi franchise. Next up for Star Trek Month is Villordsutch reviewing Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan….
Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan is a landmark Trek film for two reasons:
1. Spock dies *Spoilers*.
2. It was the first pirated video I possibly ever saw.
Granted the first point is more of a landmark than the second, but it’s still a landmark for me. Anyhoo, we digress and I’m here to write about Wrath of Khan. So I shall.
I recently rewatched the “best Trek ever” on DVD (this time not pirated) for the nth time, with my daughters, and still it hooks me in and stops me from be aware of what life going on around me. From Chekov’s “Botany Bay?” through to Scotty’s last bagpipe note I don’t move. I’m 8 again. The starship battles may have dated slightly due to the phaser fire, but other that these beams the models still look magnificent as they cross swords in the emptiness of space. Watching my daughters’ facial expressions as the worm crawls into Terrell and Chekov’s ears, or observing their silence during Spock’s death scene… thirty-one years may have passed, but the film still has it.
Emotional themes run through the core of the film, dealing with birth and death, friendship and loss, youth and age, though the biggest of these is death – not just the loss of Spock in the closing moments of the film, but also members of the new and young crew of the Enterprise. The strongest of these is Peter Preston, the nephew of Scotty (I’ve seen that version) who stayed behind at his post whilst others ran during Khan’s attack on the Enterprise. The fact that Scotty carried his nephew to the bridge – not to the sickbay, but to the bridge – shows the people in control what their actions/inactions have accomplished. We later see Peter in sickbay and with his dying breath still looks for the final word from his Captain. As he dies, Peter grabs hold Kirk’s tunic leaving a blooded mark across the clean white fabric. On the rewatch my middle daughter asked me why he doesn’t change his jacket to get rid of the blood. Clearly his death had affected her too and she wanted to see the memory removed.
I remember reading how word had quickly gotten around the world, even before the internet, that Spock was going to die, so this generated a lot of morbid interest in wanting to see a childhood hero die. People flocked to watch Spock die and he did it for them within the first five minutes. A rather poor scene, watchers were left unimpressed that they had been cheated out of a real death. They stayed and watched the rest of the film, only to come out feeling as though they had lost a friend.
Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan will stay with the world when other Trek films are long forgotten. Looking at you Next Generation films!
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