There, There, Sheldon. You Still Have Spock’s Napkin

It was a roller-coaster kind of day for me at work. Instead of arriving a few hours early, as I often do, I showed up pretty much on time; only to find out I had to complete a carry-over project from the night before AND cover for my opener who called out. Effectively, I had to do two jobs that I hadn’t planned on. It made for a rough morning. Later in the morning my baker Kira said a somewhat-irate customer asked to speak to the manager. C’mon, what else could go wrong, I thought? It turned out to be a visit from a former employee, one I am friends with on Facebook. He came into town for the science fiction/fantasy convention and told me next year’s featured guest will be none other than George R. R. Martin – author of my favorite fantasy series. Things were looking up.

Then came the news about Leonard Nimoy’s death. I’m not an overly emotional person – certainly not as much as my baker who got misty-eyed over the news – but it did bring me back down a bit. No more Spock (Prime). It would be illogical to argue against my belief that Spock was, by far, the most iconic of the Star Trek characters.

I own a boxed set of the first five Star Trek movies – purchased about two years before Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country came out. I really like the interview with Leonard Nimoy about directing and why the boxed set was set up in letterbox format (you know, wide screen – with the black bars on top and bottom of the screen which novice movie watchers think don’t belong there). He spoke of shot composition and how motion pictures still use the same artistic concept of composition that still photography uses. The big screen is more epic in scope than the more squared off televisions of old – and the director needed to use solid composition techniques to truly master film making. Nimoy was more than capable at that.

Also, a director needs to get the most out of his actors. As his first foray behind the camera I believe Leonard Nimoy managed to accomplish just that. As I mentioned above, he was more than capable at composing great shots, but it was William Shatner’s performance in The Search for Spock that was most telling of Nimoy’s abilities as a director. Shatner is not a bad actor, but his ability to overact at points has been the butt of many jokes of comedians, other actors and the public at large. Based on my own memory, I recall feeling Shatner’s performance in the third film one of his best. His reaction to his son’s murder at the hand of the Klingons was beautifully done. Not only that, but the killing of his son was also well-done. Some directors would’ve made it more dramatic and hampered the effect. It was best in the simplicity of his stabbing and near immediate death – no last breath dialog to make it corny. It’s lack of extra detail was almost very Vulcan in effect; Kirk’s son dies while he listens to the audio. Nothing can be done about it, and there were no goodbyes. It was so well executed in its simplicity. I’m not sure how much of that was Nimoy’s doing, but I’d assume, as director, he was the driving force behind that scene.

And let’s not forget his other accomplishments. Nimoy directed numerous movies, perhaps one of the most popular at the time being Three Men and Baby. And, try though I may, I’ll never get the Ballad of Bilbo Baggins out of my head. Heck, it’s painful to watch, but I think I’ll hop over to YouTube and check it out after I publish this. And his voice-over work was also wonderful – one of the great voices with fellow-Treker Patrick Stewart, Ian McKellan, James Earl Jones, Morgan Freeman and others. His voice just brought something to the characters or narration.

I’ll miss Leonard Nimoy. He certainly made a mark on Hollywood and film. After 83 years of life on this Earth, I guess he really did live long and prosper.

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