Star Trek: Generations (Paramount Pictures, 1994, see also 1994 in film) is the seventh feature film based on the popular Star Trek science fiction television series. It is often referred to as just Generations. It is the first film in the series to star the cast of Star Trek: The Next Generation, and is a symbolic passing of the torch of the film series from the original series cast to the TNG cast.
Not long after the Enterprise NCC-1701-A completed its final mission in Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country, Captain Kirk (William Shatner), Scotty (James Doohan) and Chekov (Walter Koenig) attend the christening of its successor, NCC-1701-B, commanded by John Harriman. On its shakedown cruise, however, it goes to the rescue of a vessel being destroyed by The Nexus energy ribbon. During the efforts, the Enterprise hull is breached, Kirk disappears, presumed dead.
79 years later, the Enterprise NCC-1701-D find themselves fighting the insane scientist Dr. Tolian Soran (Malcolm McDowell), who, with the aid of some renegade Klingons, is attempting to reach the same energy ribbon so he can enter it and live in its simulated bliss forever. Captain Picard (Patrick Stewart) is forced to try to stop Soran himself while Commander Riker (Jonathan Frakes) attempts to stop the Klingons, but in doing so Soran, the entire Enterprise crew, and the inhabitants of Veridian IV are killed (and all planets within the Viridian system itself destroyed) by a shockwave resulting from the explosion of the veridian star, while Picard enters the Nexus in an alternate universe where his deepest desires are fulfilled.
After realizing he is in the Nexus, Picard wishes to leave one dimension of the Nexus into another in order to find Captain Kirk (who, by Picard's point of view, had just entered the Nexus from when the Enterprise of 79 years earlier was attacked). Picard enlists Kirk's help in stopping Soran on Veridian III. They go back in time to the point where Soran begins to call upon the ribbon. Both Picard and Kirk sucessfully stop Soran, but at the cost of Kirk's life. Picard buries Kirk on the Veridian mountain, then is taken by shuttle to help rescue the surviving Enterprise-D crew.
Due to the time-travel elements involved, some Trek fans believe that all events following Picard's return from the Nexus -- including Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, Star Trek: Voyager and the later TNG-based films, take place in an alternate universe from the one seen at the start of Generations. This can only be considered conjecture as no later film or TV series ever confirmed this. In addition, the time-loop demonstrated here appears to have been self-contained, in a similar fashion to the TNG episode "Cause and Effect" which did not per se create an alternate universe.
As in several earlier films, Generations contrasts a man who will stop at nothing to get what he wants (Soran) with men who are willing to put aside everything they love and cherish to save others. Kirk makes the ultimate sacrifice, as does the NCC-1701-D, in one of the more spectacular special effects sequences of the film series.
Commander Data also has to grapple with an emotion chip which he plants in his brain, and which often threatens to overwhelm him. Recognizing and overcoming his own personal failings is his story arc.
Leonard Nimoy was originally slated to direct the film, but he pulled out before signing his contract. It's thought that he didn't like the screenplay and wanted it altered, but producer Rick Berman refused any further changes. Berman said that he would have made the changes but there was not enough time to because the special effects and other production companies had already been booked.
The film's production team included a great number of people who had worked on the TNG television show, many starting work on the film while still working on the television show or transferring immediately to the film production team as soon as their work on the television show finished. The director David Carson had directed a handful of episodes of Star Trek including TNG's Yesterday's Enterprise and Deep Space Nine's two-part pilot episode Emissary. The script was written by TNG staff writers Brannon Braga and Ronald D. Moore who had written a number of popular episodes including TNG finale All Good Things . . ..
Early drafts reportedly featured more of the original series cast, but limited screen time convinced many of them to back out of the project.
Major plot elements were inspired by writings of Delmore Schwartz and Schwartz was given screen credit.
Reportedly Kirk's original death scene (in which he is shot by Soran) went over poorly in test screenings, and was re-filmed to be more heroic for the theatrical release. Another reported deletion was an orbital skydive sequence, in which Kirk skydived from orbit while Chekov and Scotty waited below.
The Next Generation episode "Relics" (filmed 3 years before Generations) did not anticipate Scotty's appearance at the christening of Enterprise-B, so Kirk's disappearance here is a retcon. Scotty, upon hearing the name Enterprise from Riker naturally assumes "Jim Kirk got it out of mothballs!". Scotty's voyage on the Jenolen and later disappearance would have had to occur after witnessing the loss of Kirk. It's assumed by fans that Scotty was probably in a state of extreme disorientation after having been suspended in a transporter buffer for 75 years.
The death of Kirk was naturally wildly controversial among Star Trek fans, with many refusing to accept the events of this film as canon. Among those who would not let Kirk die was William Shatner himself; over the next decade he would go on to co-write a number of original Star Trek novels that surmised that Kirk somehow survived the events of this film (referred to by fans as the "Shatnerverse" books). There has also been a fan movement in recent years to convince Paramount to revive Kirk, with a number of writers suggesting how the nature of Kirk's death in Generations allows for a possible revival.
In the summer of 2004 reports began circulating that the producers of Star Trek: Enterprise were in talks with Shatner for him to reprise the role of Kirk, but it is assumed that it will be some alternate universe version of the character.
The release of the Collector's Edition DVD of Star Trek: Generations was delayed 3 weeks in September 2004 due to a misprint on the packaging. The back cover stated that the movie trailers were among the bonus features included; however, Paramount was not able to obtain the clearance to include them. Although the discs were recalled to fix the error, many copies with the misprint found their way onto store shelves.
- Official Star Trek: Generations web site (http://www.startrek.com/startrek/view/series/MOV/007/index.html)
- Star Trek: Generations (http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0111280/) at the Internet Movie Database
- "Star Trek: Generations (http://www.memory-alpha.org/en/index.php/Star_Trek:_Generations)" article at Memory Alpha, a Star Trek wiki