Most fans would agree that Star Trek V: The Final Frontier was a bit of a mixed bag (at best), but now William Shatner has opened up about the creative sacrifice he thinks killed the flick.
Shatner developed the “search for God in space” story and directed the film — in addition to starring as Capt. Kirk — so he was right at the center of this eventual trainwreck. But it wasn’t always supposed to be this way. Apparently.
In an interview with SFX, Shatner discussed the creative discussions behind the scenes, most importantly how far the final film was from his initial vision. The biggest sacrifice is essentially what was supposed to be the crux of the story — which explains a lot.
Here’s Shatner’s take on it:
“My one-line idea was ‘Star Trek goes in search of God.’ Then I ran into flak – ‘Whose god? What god? We’re not gonna alienate people.’ Then someone came up with the idea, ‘Well, what happens if it’s an alien who thinks he’s God? Then humanity thinks he’s the devil by rejecting that he’s God.’ In order to get that movie made, I agreed to it, and that was a compromise. The difference between making a compromise and being political, or standing on your standards, where do you do that? The editor says, ‘Cut that line.’ And you say, ‘But that’s my whole story.’ ‘I’m sorry, you gotta get rid of those words.’ Do you say, ‘No, I’m not gonna do it’? Do you say, ‘Okay, I’ll do it’? Making compromises and political judgments, or standing on our standards, all our lives, is that. How do you make those decisions? That’s what I had to learn on Star Trek V, with $30 million. So it was fairly public.”
For a series like Trek, it really was a controversial pitch. But fascinating nonetheless. Who knows? Maybe if Shatner had been able to pursue his original idea, it wouldn’t have sucked as hard. What do you think?