Study Guide

Star Trek: The Motion Picture Setting

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Space: The Final Frontier

Now these are the voyages of the starship Enterprise. Although our heroes spend most of their time near our favorite third planet from the sun, we're treated to some serious metaphysical adventures over the course of Star Trek: The Motion Picture.

Home Sweet Home

First, let's look at some background context. Set in 2273, Star Trek inhabits a future in which humans are capable of faster-than-light travel. This, along with the rapid expansion of other technology, has resulted in the end of capitalism and rise of humanism. In addition, humanity has befriended (and made enemies with) many different alien races, and even formed their own union: the United Federation of Planets. Starfleet is the Federation's navy, more or less.

Despite this fantastical future, much of the action takes place on and around Earth. We chill in space stations orbiting the planet. We see San Francisco with an appropriately futuristic Golden Gate Bridge. We even see Starfleet HQ, which might as well be Epcot. Though a small touch, this is a reminder that Earth will always be humanity's home, no matter how far we travel in the wide universe.

The Belly Of The Beast

The other setting of the film happens to be a character too. Yep, you guessed it—we're talking about V'Ger. More than anything, our vision of V'Ger is one of intentional obfuscation: V'Ger has created a cloud of energy powered by super-advanced technology just to obscure the fact that it's a measly little space probe. It's making itself look tough to mask its insecurity. That's a total bully move.

Spock's "trip" is another story. Deep within V'Ger, there's a holographic record of all of its travels and everything it's seen in the galaxy, including every spacecraft destroyed over the course of the movie. If we look at this area as V'Ger's brain, then it might be fair to say that these holograms are its identity, which is the sum of its experiences.

Whoa. Who knew a Star Trek movie could make your brain hurt so much?

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