It’s William Shatner’s 84th birthday so I’m taking a look at one of his most recent works on what he called the most dedicated fanbase in the galaxy.
This documentary has a personal connection to me as it takes a look at the 45th anniversary Star Trek convention in Las Vegas in 2011. A landmark year obviously for Star Trek, but it was also their first year at the Rio hotel and it’s neat to see background clips that remind you just how much work and damage control goes into a convention. The big connection though is that that was my first time ever at a Star Trek convention. It’s great to have this wonderful souvenir of that special time. I myself don’t appear on the film, at least I have yet to spot myself in the background. Although I know I’m on footage that wasn’t used as he filmed the borg bingo event that I was at where no one knew how to make an X on their cards and my table won free t-shirts, good times.
This documentary brings back memories of all the fun I had while there and is bittersweet now too. In hindsight it’s great to see Captain Dave at what would be his final convention and his story served as a great reminder that our lives can be full and impactful no matter the circumstances. It’s great to see Arlene Martel who passed away last August and now of course that that convention is a capstone year as the final Vegas appearance of Leonard Nimoy. Yes, he said that year would be his last doing conventions, but he had started skyping to others last year and would have done it for the 50th anniversary next year I have no doubt of that.
But apart from me having a strong connection to the work how does it actually hold as a documentary? In my opinion really well. I love the way it flows in and out of different threads from philosophy and fans stories and Shatner discovering all the different levels that this thing we call Star Trek touches in people. Because it’s not just about going to these events to see the actors or reconnect with friends it’s all that and more. He said it it’s about community, hope, love, and the passion fans feel for the ideas of Star Trek.
It is part of our cultural mythology because it transcends the boundaries of gender, race, and sexuality and we can all just be equal, if only for one weekend. We get to interact with those who made the worlds and characters we love, with friends who feel just as we do, and through cosplays, concerts, and questions add our own creativity to the mix. And the enacting of the ritual is very much like each time is like the first time because every year you see different guests, you go to different events, and build upon what you learned in the years prior. For instance I’ve learned that if you want the best deal at the auctions go to the ones on Thursday. For the best deals in the Vendor’s room go on Sunday afternoon when everyone is trying to clear out their stock. Always go with at least one other person so both of you can stand in different autographs lines if needed and pack snacks and drinks because there usually isn’t time for lunch.
Apart from capturing a really wonderful subject in a creative and touching way the production values are great. Everything looks good and the camera is nice and steady even with spending so much time walking around hallways. The music fits and a like the variety of fans and stories that are covered in here. I have to say the only thing I don’t really like is the title. I much prefer the title Shatner originally had which was Fanatics and I’m sorry for whatever reason that he couldn’t keep it. However, that is a minor blip in what is an excellent piece of work. It captures the passion, joy, and fun that comes from the convention and goes to the core of what Star Trek is all about. It gives us hope for where we’re going and what we can do, and that we can get through hard times and come out better by being compassionate to our fellow human beings, and taking strength from their good qualities. This really is a great documentary that every trekkie should see.