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Star Trek: The Motion Picture


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Film Version Comparisons

Star Trek: The Motion Picture premiered on December 6th, 1979 at the MacArthur Theatre in Washington DC.  The movie had been assembled and edited, but without a lot of time left before a hard release date, the movie remained in what was essentially a "rough cut."  In 1983, ABC released an extended version of the movie which included scenes from a cut sequence, but also a shot with unfinished effects.  It wasn't until The Director's Edition released in 2001, with tighter editing and better sound mix that Robert Wise considered the movie complete.  However it was only available in standard definition.  The Director's Edition of 2022, however, created an updated 4K version that the movie could finally be called complete four decades later.

Theatrical Cut is the Baseline, changes start there, moving upwards  to the 2022 Director's Editions.  Scenes without major changes are merged.

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Film Versions

Plot Points ►

The Director's Edition

April 5, 2022
Source: Paramount+ Streaming Service
Three Klingon cruisers confront an unseen adversary and are destroyed by it. Before destruction, the Klingon captain sends a report to the Klingon Command. Epsilon 9 monitors the Klingon ships' destruction. They determine that the object is headed for Earth. Changed:

Subtitles changed to alter lip synch.

Kirk meets with Sonak in a San Francisco Tram Station. Kirk is annoyed that he's not on the ship. Kirk orders Sonak to report to him in one hour aboard the ship. Kirk beams up to a Space Office Complex due to transporter problems on the Enterprise and meets up with Scotty. Scotty flies Kirk over to the Enterprise. The object is less than three days from Earth. Scott is called away to engineering. An ensign offers to take Kirk on a tour of the ship, but Kirk declines Kirk takes the turbolift to the bridge, drinking in that he's back on the Enterprise. Added:

As Kirk leaves, Sulu, Uhura and an Alien talk amongst themselves about Decker's reaction to Kirk being assigned to captain the Enterprise.

Kirk goes to Engineering to tell Decker he's taking over the captain's seat. Suddenly a the console bursts into flares. Scotty calls the transporter room to tell them to cancel the current transport, but they're unable to. A transporter accident kills Sonak and another person. Decker and Kirk meet in a corridor. Kirk assigns Decker science officer duties. Changed:

Epsilon 9 cuts in to report on the object, describing it as 2 AUs in diameter, but is destroyed during the briefing.

Removed:

Sulu, obviously taken by Ilia, clumsily stutters and stumbles while showing her the navigation system. Ilia reassures him. Decker apologizes for Kirk's attitude. Ilia reassures him she wasn't insulted.

Added:

Kirk makes it down to the transporter room in time to talk to a yeoman. The a yeoman reports that Dr McCoy insisted they go first so he could see how the transporter scrambled their molecules.

Moved Here:

Decker and Ilia look at each other reassuringly.

Removed:
Sulu reads out a new rendezvous with V'Ger however, Ilia is preoccupied with Decker. He repeats his report and Ilia snaps out of it, confirming the new rendezvous.

Moved Elsewhere:
Decker and Ilia look at each other reassuringly.
In his office, Kirk has a confrontation with Decker about why his phaser order was countermanded. Decker replies that the refit of the ship caused the phasers to be powered down. Kirk and Decker begin to bury their hatchet when Kirk realizes Decker has more knowledge of the ship than he does.

After Decker leaves, he meets Ilia, who chides him for leaving Delta IV without saying goodbye.

Removed:

Back in Kirk's office, Kirk attempts to shoo McCoy out of his office, to which he replies that he's about to make a decision on Kirk's command fitness

Spock arrives on the ship, taking over the science position. He offers to help in Engineering to fix the engine issue. His demeanor is even colder than usual. With the engines working, the ship finally goes into warp. Changed:

Kirk, Spock and McCoy meet in the Officer's Lounge briefing room to discuss why Spock is aboard.

Added:

Ilia leaves her station to help Chekov.

Removed:

Extended scenes of status reports being announced, Uhura attempting to contact Starfleet, and whether the deflectors will hold. Decker notices a power loss on the forcefields.

Removed:

Another officer takes Chekov's position.

Removed:

Uhura mentions that the ship could hold a crew of tens of thousands. McCoy responds with it also being able to handle a crew of a thousand ten miles tall.  Spock informs Kirk that the object is generating a forcefield greater than the radiation of Earth's sun.

Changed:

Chekov returns to his seat (edited to be much shorter).

As the ship gets closer to the bow of of the object, the object sends a probe over to the Enterprise. The probe begins to tap into the main computer, recording the records of the main computer. Spock smashes the science station, the probe attacks him, then leaves, taking Ilia with it. Changed:

Chekov announces an intruder alert.

Ilia reappears in her quarter's sonic shower. Kirk, Spock and McCoy determine she is the probe from the object made into a mechanized Human there to study humans. They begin questioning her asking what happened to the original Ilia. "That unit no longer functions."She says she is here to learn more about the "servo-units" infesting the Enterprise. From her, the three learn who V'Ger is, and that he's going to Earth to find and join with The Creator. They convince her to have a medical exam to find out what she is. Ilia is given a medical exam where they determine she's a completely robotic version of Ilia. When Decker enters, she seems to soften up to him. Kirk, Spock and Decker leave the room agree that if the probe has Ilia's memory patterns, they may be able to use her feelings of loyalty to help get information from V'Ger. Ilia breaks down the door demanding Kirk help her in her study. He assigns her to Decker, instead. Decker walks Ilia through the Recreation Deck to reawaken Ilia's memory as Kirk and McCoy watch. Decker manages to temporarily trigger a reaction, however it's gone in an instant. Ilia views a plaque showing other ships named Enterprise. When asked why the ship needs humans, Decker replies that Enterprise couldn't function without humans. Ilia says V'Ger needs to understand this before the Enterprise and humans can be reduced to memory patterns in V'Ger. Decker lets the Ilia probe in on the plan to resurrect her memory. Ilia agrees as it would help to understand humans. Spock steals a space suit. Removed:

Ilia, Decker and Nurse Chapel walk in to Ilia's Quarters.  Ilia asks why two carbon units have entered V'Ger. McCoy says they want to contact V'Ger. Decker asks if V'Ger objects, but V'Ger just wants to determine their purpose. McCoy mentions their purpose is to survive. Ilia responds that that is also V'Ger's purpose, by finding and joining with the creator. She asks to continue her observations.

Removed:

Kirk suits up in a spacesuit to catch up with Spock, flying out to meet him.  A computer voice explains how to use the thruster pack.

Spock attempts to contact V'Ger on his own. On the way, he learns about V'Ger's journey from it's home planet, its journey back to Earth and finding a replica of Ilia which he tries to mind meld with to contact V'Ger. The mind meld overloads him, and he floats back to the Enterprise where Kirk retrieves him. [This scene occurs earlier in the film] Removed:

Spock begins to pass out, and Kirk shakes him, drawing McCoy's ire.  Kirk asks what questions V'Ger may have.  Kirk is amazed that V'Ger is a machine, sent by machine planet, looking for it's creator. He asks the location of Decker and Ilia, who are in engineering.

Added:

Kirk asks "Who the hell is it trying to contact?"

Removed:

Decker realizes V'Ger has created god in its own image.

V'Ger agrees, but only once Kirk reveals the information, calling Kirk's bluff. Kirk tells her they can only release the information to V'Ger itself, and V'Ger begins pulling the Enterprise to the core of the vessel. Added:

The Enterprise is pulled into an adjoining chamber, on it's way to V'Ger's core.

Changed:

The Enterprise lands near ship's core as a walkway materializes towards them.

Kirk, Spock, McCoy, Decker and Ilia leave the ship and walk towards the center of the core island that the Enterprise is butted up against. The five enter the core island of V'Ger to reveal V'Ger is actually Voyager 6. The machine planet it landed on after getting lost built the vessel for it to complete it's programming: Learn all that is learnable, and deliver that data to the Creator on the third planet. Kirk asks Uhura to contact Starfleet command to get the release code for the Voyager series spacecraft, to allow V'Ger to complete it's programming.

Kirk tries to convince V'Ger that Humans are The Creator by making it possible for V'Ger to complete its programming. Uhura responds with the response code. Kirk sends it via tricorder, but just before the final sequence, V'Ger shorts out its own antenna leads. Spock explains V'Ger has done thisto force the Creator to come to V'Ger and physically join with him.

Decker decides to punch in the code himself via the ground test computer, starting V'Ger's transformation into a higher being by melding with him, and later, Ilia. As the melding occurs, a spectacular series of visuals flash around them, glowing brighter and brighter until the core begins to dissolve into brilliant patterns as it slips away to another dimension. The rest of the crew rush back to the Enterprise before V'ger completely dissolves from view. Added:

V'Ger hovers in orbit for a split second before its transformation.

Spock, McCoy and Kirk reflect on what they've just been through and V'Ger's new future. Spock agrees that what V'Ger needed was a human quality to move on. Scotty comes to the bridge and Kirk let's him know it's time for a proper shakedown of the ship. Scott offers to take Spock back to Vulcan, but Spock says his task is now complete. Kirk orders Sulu to head out: "Thataway."  
The Director's Edition

November 6, 2001
Source: DVD
Removed:

McCoy wonders if anyone else on the ship could be trusted to act in the ship's best interest.

Removed:

Shots of the crew looking at a tactical and a shot from inside of V'Ger of the Enterprise

Special Longer Version

February 20, 1983
Source: VHS
Spock's meditation during the Kholinar ritual is interrupted when an alien consciousness reaches out to him. At the ceremony where he receives a symbol of total logic, he pauses. After a mind meld, the Masters realize that this consciousness has touched his repressed human half. Spock fails his Kolinahr ritual. The Enterprise crew meets on the Recreation Deck for a mission briefing. Enterprise is the only ship in it's way. Starfleet assumes there's a vessel at the heart of the cloud. They hope there's a life form that will listen to reason. Epsilon 9 cuts in to report on the object, , describing it as 82 AUs in diameter, but is destroyed during the briefing. Added:

Sulu, obviously taken by Ilia, clumsily stutters and stumbles while showing her the navigation system. Ilia reassures him. Decker apologizes for Kirk's attitude. Ilia reassures him she wasn't insulted.

The Enterprise launches from space dock. Added:

Sulu reads out a new rendezvous with V'Ger however, Ilia is preoccupied with Decker. He repeats his report and Ilia snaps out of it, confirming the new rendezvous.

Added:

Back in Kirk's office, Kirk attempts to shoo McCoy out of his office, to which he replies that he's about to make a decision on Kirk's command fitness.

Added:

McCoy wonders if anyone else on the ship could be trusted to act in the ship's best interest.

Added:

Extended scenes of status reports being announced, Uhura attempting to contact Starfleet, and whether the deflectors will hold. Decker notices a power loss on the forcefields.  Uhura directs Chapel towards Chekov where Ilia is already working to stop his pain.

Added:

Another officer takes Chekov's position. Ilia announces time to the cloud boundary. Kirk, Spock and Decker discuss whether the intruder could understand humans well enough to stop the attack after the friendship message.

Added:

Uhura mentions that the ship could hold a crew of tens of thousands. McCoy responds with it also being able to handle a crew of a thousand ten miles tall. Chekov returns to his seat, relieving the officer at the station. Spock informs Kirk that the object is generating a forcefield greater than the radiation of Earth's sun.

The object immediately grabs the Enterprise in a tractor beam, pulling it inside. DiFalco takes the helm. Kirk attempts to pull out of the tractor beam but stops when told they don't have the power to escape. Decker suggests firing directly on the tractor beam emitter to escape, but Spock asks where they would escape to. Once inside, Decker asks why bring them inside? The Enterprise attempts to go farther in, but is cut off. Spock is unable to use his sensors as they're all being reflected back. The computer announces an intruder alert. [This scene occurs later in the film] Added:

Kirk suits up in a spacesuit to catch up with Spock, flying out to meet him.

[Additions from scene in another location are in red.]

Ilia, Decker and Nurse Chapel walk into Ilia's quarters to attempt to resurrect Ilia's memory using a headband given to her by Decker when they were together on her home planet. Chapel helps her put it on. It's successful. Decker immediately asks Ilia for help communicating with V'Ger. Ilia can't help, but offers what info she can: V'Ger does not know who or what the creator is, but only that it's on the third planet. Ilia asks why two carbon units have entered V'Ger. McCoy says they want to contact V'Ger. Decker asks if V'Ger objects, but V'Ger just wants to determine their purpose. McCoy mentions their purpose is to survive. Ilia responds that that is also V'Ger's purpose, by finding and joining with the creator. She asks to continue her observations.

Spock wakes up in sickbay and reveals what he's learned in his mind meld: V'Ger is a living machine, as is the population of its home planet. Spock begins to pass out, and Kirk shakes him, drawing McCoy's ire. It has amassed incredible knowledge, but no answers as to whether there is anything more to its existence. Kirk asks what questions V'Ger may have. Uhura reports that V'Ger has been visible for twenty seven minutes. Sulu reports that V'Ger is slowing down as it gets closer to Earth. Kirk is amazed that V'Ger is a machine, sent by machine planet, looking for it's creator. He asks the location of Decker and Ilia, who are in engineering. Shots of the crew looking at a tactical and a shot from inside V'Ger of the Enterprise. V'Ger, now in Earth orbit, sends a signal to Earth, awaiting a response from the creator, which it doesn't get. Added:

Kirk attempts to inform Ilia that humans are life forms, but she denies it. McCoy realizes V'Ger thinks all life must be machines. Decker realizes V'Ger has created god in its own image.

Added:

Kirk orders self destruct on his command.  An engineering officer asks why self destruct. Scotty explains the explosion will take V'Ger out.  A pan around the bridge reveals the ships status.  Spock quietly weeps at his station for the destruction of V'Ger. Spock attempts to explain V'Ger's wish to meet it's creator.

The Enterprise lands at the edge of the ship's core. Kirk, Spock, McCoy, Decker and Ilia leave the ship and walk towards the center of the core. V'Ger's transformation completes in a blinding flash, the Enterprise appears in it's place.
Theatrical Cut

December 6, 1979
Source: Blu-ray
Kirk enters the bridge and briefs the bridge crew on the situation. Asks to have the Enterprise crew assemble on the recreation deck for a mission briefing. Ilia joins the bridge crew. Decker and Ilia meet again for the first time in ages. She shows suprise that he's assigned first officer, knowing he was meant to be the Enterprise's captain. Uhura then announces that the last crewmembers are beaming aboard, but one is refusing the step in the transporter. Kirk goes down to the transporter room to get the last crewmember aboard. McCoy beams up to the Enterprise. He's unhappy at being drafted aboard by Kirk, but decides to join the crew as ship's doctor. Kirk orders warp drive. Scotty and Decker suggest further work on the engine before doing so. Decker says that assuming warp works, they'll reach the intruder in 20.1 hours. Ilia agrees and Decker and Ilia look at each other reassuringly. Kirk again orders warp drive. As the ship goes into warp, an engine problem creates a wormhole, sucking an asteroid into the wormhole as well. The Enterprise escapes by destroying the wormhole, but not before Decker countermands Kirk orders for phasers, and uses photon torpedoes instead. Despite escaping, warp drive is unusable.

Back in Kirk's office, McCoy points out that Kirk is being overbearing and may be obsessing about having the Enterprise back. Uhura reports that a shuttle is requesting permission to dock with the Enterprise.

Kirk, Spock and McCoy meet in a Recreation Deck briefing room to discuss why Spock is aboard. McCoy brings up the Kolinahr ritual, a discipline he broke to join the crew. Spock is sensing something akin to a pattern of perfect logic calling out to him. Spock says that the object may be the only way for him to find his answers. Kirk orders Spock to let him know when the object contacts him.They worry that Spock may put his own interests ahead of the ship. The Enterprise meets up with the forcefield cloud, a factor twelve energy field. Spock detects a feeling from the object from the object of puzzlement and soon after, the Enterprise is attacked. Chekov suffers a burn injury during the onslaught. Chapel begins working on his burn.

Spock determines that the object is attempting to contacting them but their systems were too primitive to notice until now. A second attack is launched, but Spock sends a friendship message at the same speed which causes the object to end the attack. Kirk asks for a tactical plot and suggestions from the crew before entering the cloud.

The Enterprise enters the cloud, viewed from the viewscreen. The ship flies through the cloud to an object at the center. Kirk asks Sulu to bring them to 500 meters distance above the object then out to one hundred. The Enterprise flies over the craft. Ilia, Decker and Nurse Chapel attempt to resurrect Ilia's memory using a headband given to her by Decker when they were together on her home planet. It's successful. Decker immediately asks Ilia for help communicating with V'Ger. Ilia can't help, but offers what info she can: V'Ger does not know who or what the creator is. Spock leaves to explore V'Ger on his own. A computer voice explains how to use the thruster pack. Uhura reports that Starfleet has visual contact on V'Ger, Sulu adds that V'Ger is moving into an Earth orbit. Chekov reports that a thruster suit has been reported missing. [This scene occurs earlier in the film] V'Ger releases larger versions of the whiplash energy towards Earth to destroy the humans on Earth who, it believes, have repressed the creator. Kirk bluffs Ilia into thinking they know why the Creator hasn't responded, but refuse to tell her unless V'Ger removes the weapons now in Earth orbit. The Enterprise is pulled directly into V'Ger's core. Forward motions slows and stops.