Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Let’s Review a Movie: Mind Meld: Secrets Behind the Voyage of a Lifetime (2001)

Happy 82nd birthday Leonard Nimoy!  I hope Shatner saved birthday cake to share.  Sometimes I still can’t believe that these best friends who on top of knowing each for over half their lives, playing iconic characters, were born only four days apart.  Life is really amazing sometimes.  And what better way to celebrate than looking at the project where they reminisced about their lives together.

First off the title is great, nice use of Star Trek reference; also I love the setting for this.  Like The Captains it’s wonderfully intimate.  In fact it’s more intimate here, because these are two best friends talking about shared experiences.  Who are so very different from each other and yet work so well together, despite having different backgrounds different experiences in their early careers as actors and wanting different things out of life in their older years. 

Nimoy comes across as very much a method actor, keeping focused and ‘in’ the character long after the camera has stopped rolling.  Shatner seems to be able to easily turn it on and off.   It seems like Shatner sees acting as a part to be played and Nimoy sees acting as a character to be portrayed.  It’s interesting to hear Shatner talk about how the character of Spock did not reflect the dignity and art that Nimoy wanted to have in his work.  Shatner sees Star Trek as less than other work I think.  While Nimoy on the other hand sees Spock as a character with a dynamic internal life and therefore was an interesting part to be pursuing.  Nimoy really seems to focus on the morality play subtext that Star Trek has whereas Shatner focuses more on the camp aspect of the franchise.  Also Nimoy is right that there was a constant balancing act with the show to keep it in between the two extremes, especially with how the studio viewed the show.  Personally I think Nimoy looks back on Star Trek as something to be really proud of, whereas Shatner wouldn’t come to that conclusion for himself for another decade.

The clip of them inside Nimoy’s house is touching and hilarious.  How Nimoy tells Shatner to take the picture home and he just goes for it.  I really love all the deep issues they get into with this thing.  They both wanted to bring their all to the production and make it the best it could be and that had a profound impact on their family lives.  How Nimoy was willing to discuss his troubles with alcohol and Shatner was willing to talk about his deceased wife’s issues with that as well.  I found it really inspiring that these men, especially when Nimoy says how bitter and angry he was in his early career years, were open and honest about failing in their lives and how everything wasn’t perfect by any stretch of the imagination.  We get to see them as people rather than just icons.       

I don’t want to get too much into the whole divide between Shatner and the supporting cast that is talked about in this film.  I haven’t read anyone’s biographies so I don’t know about specific complaints anyone has, except one that George Takei has mentioned about them setting up a shot of him on the show and having Shatner want the camera taken off of Takei and put on himself.  That this apparently happened more than once and to other cast members as well.  Now that seems to negate Shatner’s idea that this came out from self-import stuff with the conventions.  The supporting cast weren’t the leads in the show and they obviously knew that, but that doesn’t mean they weren’t important in their own right.  They were the visual representation of the core concept of diversity for the show, Nichelle Nichols meeting with Martin Luther King junior and him telling her how important her presence was on the show certainly speaks to that.  So if the little focus they got was being taking away by Shatner I can see why they would be upset over that.  If that was the case I do have to question whether their resentment was built up all those years, because they didn’t bring up their concern when perhaps they should have.  However, Shatner is certainly known for his ego and his energetic and bombastic personality.  He also is a lifelong prankster.  I've worked with people like that and I’ll admit the can be annoying and frustrating as all hell sometimes.  You’re trying to tell them about an issue you have with them and it just doesn’t sink in.  There are probably cases to be made for both sides and I like that Nimoy doesn’t really take sides in the issues.  He does his best to be respectful of everyone and that’s great.      

The tribute to De Kelley as the closing credit is lovely as is their discussion of losing him in their talk about death and legacy.  What I find fascinating too about their friendship is that not only are Nimoy and Shatner so different from each other, but Kelley was so different from both of them.  Shatner and Nimoy really are go getters in their lives and careers, always out doing things and he always seemed to be far more laid back.  They were all different and yet had such a great friendship, opposites do attract after all.  It was a beautiful relationship with wonderful onscreen chemistry that will never come again.

Honestly like The Captains this movie is a must watch for fans of either of these two men or Star Trek in general. It’s a great interview that’s well shot, interesting, heart-breaking, and a great look behind the scenes and lives of two of Star Trek’s most prominent figures. 

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