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It’s a little hard to believe that the Star Trek franchise began its incredible run on television and film fifty years ago. For many fans, while the often topical and progressive stories have shaped the state of the genre for decades, it has always been the characters that have earned and kept fans. Among them, the dynamic James T. Kirk, played by William Shatner and the curmudgeonly Dr. McCoy, portrayed by DeForest Kelley have legions of followers, but if there is one member of the Star Trek crew that is arguably the most endearing, it is Spock, the Vulcan with a human mother and a superior intellect. The actor, Leonard Nimoy, who passed away in 2015, created one of the most recognizable characters in film history. With For The Love of Spock, we get an inside look at how the Vulcan came to be, and the impressive Human who brought him to life.
The film began as a part of the 50th Anniversary celebration, but after Nimoy died, his son, Adam, the film’s director, shifted the focus of the film from predominately the character of Spock to that of his father, both as an attempt to honor the man but to learn more about what led him along this path. What he uncovers is a touching, illuminating, and funny look into that past, via archival footage and interviews that offers some surprisingly personal insight into both Nimoy and Spock.
Adam Nimoy, who has been directing since the 1990s, including two episodes of Start Trek: The Next Generation, the follow-up television series of the 1960’s show, digs deep into the origins of his father’s evolution into the famed Vulcan, populating the film with a parade of familiar faces, from Shatner himself, to other members of the original cast, but also the cast of the new movie franchise, but also many celebrities who have been influenced by Nimoy’s performances.
And while many of this asides are entertaining, they are mostly, as expected, sycophantic but respectful as they reflect on their experiences with the actor or how he had impact on their careers or lives, yet it is the clips of Nimoy himself and the revelations of a man who we already assumed was complex and talented that are the most compelling. A family man dealing with sudden fame, and the troubles he had with Adam as they grew apart are some the most memorable moments of the film. Adam is careful not to make the movie about that, but it is ever-present, and it helps to give a stronger sense of humanity to the famously stoic persona.
For fans of the franchise though, there is a lot of background into the development and production of the very first pilot right up to his last appearance, and again, the best parts of these are the commentary of Leonard Nimoy himself as he reflects on his work and the projects themselves. These are most enlightening when the movie examines the films and Nimoy’s rise as a director, where we learn some of the darker aspects of his life.
So the question is, who is the movie for? Does one need to be a Star Trek fan to enjoy or even understand it? The answer lies in the title. The cultural impact of Spock is one that is hard to describe, a figure who has seeped into all corners of entertainment, and so there of fans of the Vulcan who might not ever have even seen him in a film or television show but still hold him with great regard. For The Love Of Spock is a smart, eye-opening, and engrossing documentary that does right by the character and the man.
Director: Adam Nimoy
Stars: Leonard Nimoy, Adam Nimoy, Zoe Saldana, Chris Pine, Karl Urban, many more