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Star Trek Movies I-X Discuss the first ten big screen outings in this forum!

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Old September 20 2008, 08:19 AM   #1
MauriceNavidad
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"Planet of the Titans" Revisited

I recently purchased the very huge, very cool, and very expensive book "The Art of Ralph McQuarrie", six pages of which are dedicated to McQuarrie's conceptual art for what is listed in the book as "Unfilmed Star Trek Feature, late 1970s", better know to Trek historians as Philip Kaufman's aborted film "Star Trek: Planet of the Titans".

The best thing is seeing large reproductions of several of McQuarrie's concept paintings that most of us have seen before, and conceptual sketches, most of which I'd seen elsewhere. But what made this extra interesting was Ralph's notes on the images. Since much of what's known about this project is rumor and assumption, I thought I'd dig up some of the images in the book and note what McQuarrie says about them, and what hints that provides about what was and wasn't planned for the film.

NOTE that the images here are ones I've seen all over the net and had on my hard drive. I didn't dare try to put this big ol book into a scanner!


Above: Ralph's rendering of designer Ken Adam's concept for the Enterprise.
The caption above seems to confirm that the design of the ship was that of Ken Adam, not McQuarrie's per se, despite what some people want to see as a Star Destroyer influence. This explanation fits with the Adam sketches of the ship seen in The Art of Star Trek.



(in the book, text below the upper image reads "crew uses tiny pod to cross to opening in shaft)

McQuarrie:
I had devised a concept for the end of the film... Some alien form has designed a way to use the power of a black hole's gravity to form a spherical shroud around the black hole. If you have a dense enough material, gravity cannot penetrate it. There are two openings in the shroud that they would use to pull ships in. The saucer of the Enterprise (which was detachable) ends up in the shroud. They meet the aliens and had a dramatic finale. These two images are of the Enterprise saucer in the shroud.



Detached Enterprise saucer concept sketch.
The disc of the enterprise <sic> would separate from the rest of the ship to land on the surface of planets.


Landing platform concept sketch.
...concept sketches of the detached Enterprise dish on the surface of a planet.
Ok, the nonsense about dense material negating gravity aside, the many sketches of the detached saucer, in the "shroud", shown landed, and the various landing pads on what appears to be Earth and Vulcan all appear to indicate that the artists at least were toying with the idea of a ship that routinely separates, leaving the warp drive in orbit while the saucer lands on planets.


Asteroid Docking Bay production painting.
There was no script, we were just winging it, coming up with all kinds of ideas. I was able to introduce my inhabited asteroid concept, which again went unused when the the plans for a feature film were dropped for a few years.



Asteroid Docking Bay Interior production painting and thumbnail sketches.
It appears the artists were blue-skying ideas while the scripts were being developed, suggesting many ideas that probably never made it into the actual screenplays.

As to the Enterprise, some of the sketches in the book show close-ups of the nacelle fronts, which are shown to have domed ends, but these are recessed into the front of the nacelle cylinders: a detail not apparent on the photos I've seen of the study models.
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Last edited by MauriceNavidad; September 20 2008 at 08:48 AM.
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Old September 20 2008, 01:54 PM   #2
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Re: "Planet of the Titans" Revisited

Thank you so very much for posting this. I remember seeing the pics on his website, but they were not captioned at the time, so I thought the saucer shots were it crashing on a planet. I am a huge 'path not taken' guy with respect to TREK so Kaufmann's unmade TITANS is my holy grail. I figure it would have not necessarily have felt like real TREK (any more than TMP does to most) but that it would have entertained more than TMP, and gotten to market sooner as well, so it would have had a huge impact on what came after.

I definitely see the MILLENNIUM FALCON in Ralph's saucer, and his enterprise is definitely filtered through his own sensibilities, since Adam's sketches look more ... well, Adam-like than this (I am a huge admirer of Adam.) Downside is that you'd've had the GALACTICA effect, with TREK looking like SW right off the bat, instead of waiting till ST 3 to take on that inappropriate look.

I just saw Toshiro Mifune in something the other night, and immediately flashed on the stuff about Mifune being the Klingon Captain opposing Spock, according to Kaufmann in a little book, I think it is called best sf films never made. I've never felt good about the idea of doing 3/4 of a trek movie w/o Kirk (witness GENERATIOINS), but I gotta say, I'd've been first in line for this one.

The black hole shroud thing I don't get at all, it sounds like it is pinched from John Black's rejected trek pitch about the black hole that blows up, rather than the hole that send the E crew back (or forward) in time at the end.
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Old September 20 2008, 04:01 PM   #3
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Re: "Planet of the Titans" Revisited

trevanian wrote: View Post

I just saw Toshiro Mifune in something the other night, and immediately flashed on the stuff about Mifune being the Klingon Captain opposing Spock, according to Kaufmann in a little book, I think it is called best sf films never made. I've never felt good about the idea of doing 3/4 of a trek movie w/o Kirk (witness GENERATIOINS), but I gotta say, I'd've been first in line for this one.

Funny you should mention Mifune, because if memory serves, he was also the choice to play Admiral Nogura for TMP, once it was bumped up to feature status. James Shigeta was going to play Nogura if the Phase II series had progressed.
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Old September 20 2008, 08:38 PM   #4
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Re: "Planet of the Titans" Revisited

That looks neat!
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Old September 20 2008, 08:45 PM   #5
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Re: "Planet of the Titans" Revisited

I have more to post on this... but I didn't want to do it all in one message: figured I'd see if there was any interest.

I agree that I like Adam's renderings of his designs better. They feel sleeker than McQuarrie's take. I would've loved to get my hands on the study models...where they sold at the auctions?

I edited the Planet of Titans entry on Memory Alpha to make it more accurate, and also corrected some of the captions which attributes the Titans designs to Phase II (and added an entry for Study Models, since they erroneously referred to the study models as Studio Models), and I revised their entry on McQuarrie to correct Titans errors there, and to add mention of his work on Star Trek VI. Whew!

There's an entry on the project in "The Greatest Sci-Fi Movies Never Made".

As to Mifune...I love the man. I love him in High and Low in particular, amongst many great performances. I was thrilled when I picked up a capsule toy in Japan and opened it to find it was Mifune as his nameless Samurai from Yojimbo...in black and white! Yay!
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Old September 20 2008, 08:54 PM   #6
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Re: "Planet of the Titans" Revisited

I've always thought that exterior shot of the asteroid looked cool as f**k.

I still do.
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Old September 21 2008, 02:39 AM   #7
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Re: "Planet of the Titans" Revisited

jon1701 wrote: View Post
I've always thought that exterior shot of the asteroid looked cool as f**k.

I still do.


It is pretty cool looking. I'd love to see them use that in the new movie, but I don't think that's likely.

It would be great though, wouldn't it?
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Old September 21 2008, 06:37 AM   #8
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Re: "Planet of the Titans" Revisited

I'm surprised they didn't use it — or something inspired by it — at some point during the 30-odd years since Planet of the Titans was kicked around, particularly after the visual effects went (almost) all-CGI in the late 90s.
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Old September 21 2008, 09:53 AM   #9
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Re: "Planet of the Titans" Revisited

^The Defiant in the Tholian asteroid facility in "In a Mirror Darkly" from ENTs fourth season came pretty close.....
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Old September 21 2008, 06:31 PM   #10
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Re: "Planet of the Titans" Revisited

trevanian wrote: View Post

I just saw Toshiro Mifune in something the other night, and immediately flashed on the stuff about Mifune being the Klingon Captain opposing Spock, according to Kaufmann in a little book, I think it is called best sf films never made. I've never felt good about the idea of doing 3/4 of a trek movie w/o Kirk (witness GENERATIOINS), but I gotta say, I'd've been first in line for this one.
Toshiro Mifune as a Klingon would've given as, imo, a better and more nuanced Klingon than what we ended up in latter Treks. Less over the top, Norse-Viking and more subtle, subdue Samuri-like. It would've been, to borrow Gowron's phrase, "glorious."

I have to agree with you on a movie featuring Spock heavily and Kirk less. As Nimoy has pointed out in several interviews, the character of Spock works best when he has the character of Kirk and Shatner's energitic performance to work against. In Mark A. Altman's book Captain's Log, he quotes Nimoy from another source as saying that Spock isn't sucessful when he is left in command by himself like in "The Gaileo Seven."
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Old September 21 2008, 10:44 PM   #11
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Re: "Planet of the Titans" Revisited

Procutus wrote: View Post
James Shigeta was going to play Nogura if the Phase II series had progressed.
Where did you hear this? I know Shigeta played Nogura in a fan film called Yorktown II back in the late '80s or so; Starlog covered it, since it was apparently a pretty prominent fan film with involvement from many professionals including George Takei (with the filmmaker playing Sulu's son), Andrew Probert (who designed a Klingon scout ship for it), and composer Bill Conti. But I don't remember anything about Shigeta being slated for Phase II.
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Old September 21 2008, 10:45 PM   #12
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Re: "Planet of the Titans" Revisited




Vulcan interior hallways concept drawing.

Star Trek shuttle concept sketches.
McQuarrie labels the corridor as Vulcan, but the curve makes me think Enterprise interior.



Concept sketches for the Vulcan planet surface.

A spooky spirit lives in the rocks. A character gets sucked in and interrogated.



Concept sketches for Vulcan planet and docking platform.

The planet is burned out--they've ruined the air quality to the point they have to live underground.



A concept drawing of a character viewing a hologram.
It would be interesting to know how much of this Vulcan stuff was the artists just blue-skying and now much was informed by the script under development.

The final image, with the hologram, looks like a Vulcan who's being restrained...but who can be sure?

In fact, the burned out nature of the planet in the sketches above makes me wonder if it's not Vulcan at all, but the titular Planet of the Titans. Curiouser, and curiouser...

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Old September 22 2008, 12:23 AM   #13
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Re: "Planet of the Titans" Revisited

Christopher wrote: View Post
Procutus wrote: View Post
James Shigeta was going to play Nogura if the Phase II series had progressed.
Where did you hear this? I know Shigeta played Nogura in a fan film called Yorktown II back in the late '80s or so; Starlog covered it, since it was apparently a pretty prominent fan film with involvement from many professionals including George Takei (with the filmmaker playing Sulu's son), Andrew Probert (who designed a Klingon scout ship for it), and composer Bill Conti. But I don't remember anything about Shigeta being slated for Phase II.

Christopher;

For the life of me, I can't recall where I read this, but I'm certain I did. I want to say that most likely it was in the Reeves-Stevens' book on Phase II, but I'd have to flip through my copy to see if I can confirm that.

What's really a shame is that Mifune wasn't able to play him in TMP.
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Old September 22 2008, 12:25 AM   #14
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Re: "Planet of the Titans" Revisited

Thanks for the additional pix DS9, I'm really enjoying these! Keep 'em coming.


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Old September 22 2008, 12:33 AM   #15
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Re: "Planet of the Titans" Revisited

My pleasure. I enjoy research, and I'm determiend to set the record straight(er) on this darned slippery project! If only someone had the freaking screenplay that Paramount (rightly or wrongly) rejected!
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