The Making of Star Trek V, Part 2: From the Archives

The Making of Star Trek V, Part 2: From the Archives

The Making of Star Trek V, Part 2: From the Archives

The way that producer Harve Bennett looks at it, STAR TREK II: THE WRATH OF KHAN, STAR TREK III: THE SEARCH FOR SPOCK and STAR TREK IV: THE VOYAGE home represents something of a trilogy. Which in itself presented a challenge when it came to STAR TREK V.

Shatner_bennet    "I would say that the trilogy probably stands because of its centering on the life, death, resurrection of Spock and his refulfillment," stated Harve Bennett to THE OFFICIAL STAR TREK FAN CLUB MAGAZINE (#64). "This film [STAR TREK V] is continuous only in the sense of time. What we are trying to do in each picture is explore other angles and other undiscovered depths of these very legendary and familiar characters. And that's not too easy because you reach a point where you say, 'How much more can we explore these people?' But remember, these people are also aging, which they did not do in the series. So as they age, they are revealing more and more of their back and foreground stories. That's where the challenge is for me: to try to keep mining these relationships. [STAR TREK V also] has with it an imperative of going back to deep space. STAR TREK II, III and IV were all, to some extent, manageable in terms of budget, shooting time and scope. With STAR TREK V, we have now come to the space imperative and we have some very, very difficult appetites: planetary and construction appetites--things you have to show and places you have to go, and an alien here and there. All these things make the cost and complexity of the film more difficult."

Dreamscape    To make things a bit easier, both Bennett and Shatner began an intensive search for the proper screenwriter to bring this vision to the screen. Who they found was David Loughery, the writer behind DREAMSCAPE.

   "I sold an original screenplay to Paramount called FLASHBACK," said Loughery. "Based on the merits of that script, Paramount offered me an overall deal, which I accepted, and one of the executives at that time asked me if I had any interest in working on STAR TREK V. I said, 'Sure,' thinking that would be the last I ever heard of it. A couple of weeks later, they put me together with Harve Bennett. We talked and got along real well, and then we met Bill Shatner, who had already written an outline which he had turned into Paramount."

   That outline, subtitled "An Act of Love," dealt with the Enterprise being commandeered by a rogue Vulcan named Sybok (as is the case in the final film), and being led to a world beyond the Great Barrier where they encounter God, who turns out to be the Devil.

   "Paramount liked Bill's outline," said Loughery, "but they thought that it was a little too dark. After the success of STAR TREK IV, they wanted to make sure that we retained as much humor and fun as possible, because they felt that was one of the reasons for the big success of that film. They wanted us to inject a spirit of fun and adventure into the story. I think they just wanted a balance between the darker elements and some of the lighter stuff. That was never really a specific edict. It was something we'd always wanted to do from the beginning. But when you're writing an outline, it's kind of hard to work in elements of humor. Those are the things that come out in the screenplay or the execution and the style of how you do it. There was an effort, but not one to make the film as funny as STAR TREK IV. I think everybody felt they'd sort of had their romp and now they were getting a little more serious again, but let's keep that spark alive. So it really became one of those skull session three weeks, where Harve, Bill and I sat in a room and came up with a storyline that Paramount approved, and then I went ahead and wrote the screenplay which went through many, many rewrites before it was finished, as these things often do.

   "One particular change was in the character of Sybok. Originally, he was a very messianic, possessed kind of figure who was willing to trample anyone who got in his way, but he began to remind us too much of Khan and we had to take him in a different direction. It would have been easy to write Sybok as a black-hat or a crazed Mohammed, but that was too much Khan.

   "The idea of God and the Devil was reflected in the script's earlier drafts. Those drafts were much cleaner and more comprehensible in terms of the idea that you think you're going to Heaven, but you turn out to have found Hell. We weren't literally saying Heaven and Hell, but we were suggesting the idea that it was like, 'Wait a minute, is this God or the Devil?', without saying specifically that it's either, but instead is an alien entity that has tapped into our perceptions about where they're going. We did, however, run into some problems, one with Gene Roddenberry."

   Roddenberry rejected the notion of the Enterprise encountering God, believing that STAR TREK should avoid such specific religious themes.

ST - The God Thing    "I didn't object to it being an alien claiming to be God," Roddenberry said in CAPTAIN'S LOG, "but there was too much in it that an audience could have thought was really God or really the devil, and I very strongly resist believing in either. I do not perceive this as a universe that's divided between good and evil. I see it as a universe that is divided between many ideas of what is."

   This stance seemed particularly ironic, since in 1975, Roddenberry himself penned a proposed STAR TREK movie script entitled THE GOD THING, which dealt with similar themes.*

 "Maybe Gene turned around and figured that it didn't work, and wouldn't work the way we were doing it either," Loughery mused. "I just don't know. I think we managed to pull off something that is able to tread the line. I don't think it was too controversial and I don't think anyone was too radically upset by what we did, although it seems to me that STAR TREK was always meeting God in some way or another. That idea permeated many of the old episodes, and it certainly played a part in the first movie."

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