Tuesday, May 12, 2009
Last night I saw Star Trek. I teared up at the first shot of the Enterprise, at the appearance of Leonard Nimoy, at the inevitable shot of Enterprise emerging unscathed from some cosmic fireball, at the enthusiastic walk-on crew member we all knew must die in the next two minutes, even at the ponderous moralising. Basically, I saw the entire thing through a haze of moisture. Why? Because this movie marks the moment when the franchise became a myth. Until now, Star Trek has been fun in a post-modern, ironic kind of way. Even under the command of the super-solemn Jean-Luc Picard, the show seemed cuddly, a familiar joke told over and over again. Galaxy Quest was a brilliant spoof, but it was hardly necessary, Trek spoofed itself. But J.J.Abrams - plainly an ego of Borg Cube proportions judging by his gigantic name spread across the screen at the start of the closing credits - has cut through the accretions of exhausted irony and started all over again. He has done so - I will not spoil the plot - with a device that allows an almost infinity of sequels. As with all good myths, the story is freed to be told again. Abrams has started a new Star Trek wave. Now there will always be new Star Trek waves. Like Peter Pan or Superman, the Trek myth is established across the generations. Abrams treats it with innocence and respect in the certain knowledge that he is handling meanings and imagery that preceded him and will outlast him. It's an American thing, this triumphant naivete emerging from chaos and cynicism, this sanctification of story. Or, if you prefer, it's a blast.
Posted by Bryan Appleyard at 4:46 am