Fact-Checking Inside Star Trek: The Real Story

Discussion in 'Star Trek - Original Series' started by Harvey, Jun 7, 2013.

  1. J.T.B.

    J.T.B. Rear Admiral Premium Member

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    Oh come on, that's holding "inspired by" to an absurd standard. That's like saying that West Side Story wasn't inspired by Romeo and Juliet because Tony and Maria don't both commit suicide at the end. Very few people will take that position seriously.
     
  2. Robert Comsol

    Robert Comsol Commodore Commodore

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    I don't think it is, and thanks for providing a graphic example for something "inspired by". :)

    In Romeo and Juliet you had feuding families and West Side Story puts that in a contemporary context of gangs. And in Titanic the more contemporary context is apparently about classes of society. All these three love stories have in common that they end in tragedy, in the two latter cases by the death of the male protagonist.

    But what's in Forbidden Planet that has been inspired by The Tempest? You have a young man, coming to a deserted place, finding the woman he loves, and takes her back with him to civilization.

    Technically speaking that's the essence of many classic fairy tale stories, thus to say FP has been inspired by The Tempest makes me wonder (still) what kind of inspiration we are talking about which sets The Tempest apart from the aforementioned fairy tale stories.

    If somebody were to claim that Lost was heavily inspired by The Tempest I'd probably have to concur, but with Forbidden Planet I'm unable to do so.

    Bob
     
    Last edited: Aug 8, 2013
  3. Melakon

    Melakon Admiral Admiral

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    It can be inspired by Shakespeare's work without necessarily imitating the details. Perhaps when plotting Forbidden Planet out, they saw The Tempest as a convenient framework on which to hang the characters and ideas they wanted to develop. It's also a quick verbal shorthand to describing the plot: "It's The Tempest in outer space!"

    But RobertC, saying that your interpretation is correct and that 57 years of film criticism is wrong seems a rather ambitious proposition.
     
  4. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    I used to be skeptical of the notion that FP was inspired by The Tempest myself, citing the major story differences. But then I learned that the filmmakers themselves explicitly cited the play as their inspiration, so I changed my view to fit the facts.
     
  5. Nerys Myk

    Nerys Myk The Real Me Premium Member

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    It doesn't get more authoritative than that, Robert Comsol.
     
  6. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    ^Well, my comment is hearsay. It's not authoritative unless it's a direct quote from the filmmakers.

    And you know, I tried looking into it and it seems I may have been wrong. According to this site, none of the marketing for the film ever mentioned Shakespeare, although film critics were making the Tempest comparison from the get-go. I can't seem to find any sources saying that the filmmakers confirmed the Tempest influence, so I can't be sure what it was that convinced me to change my mind. Now I'm confused. Robert Comsol might be right about this -- although he certainly could stand to be less condescending in making his case.
     
  7. Sir Rhosis

    Sir Rhosis Commodore Commodore

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    Though not quoted directly in the linked work, Irving Block and Allen Adler who wrote the story (originally entitled "The Fatal Planet") claimed it was. Screenwriter Cyril Hume seems to have expanded the similarities even more. Once you click this link, you will have to scroll up several pages to find the start of the chapter.

    http://books.google.com/books?id=0jEIHfOErcsC&pg=PA90&lpg=PA90&dq=irving+block+and+allen+adler&source=bl&ots=FIRjubuhLm&sig=HT6CsW77QxqDgbcGKp-n_awvwSo&hl=en&sa=X&ei=O0kEUuDdBIWWyAHHqoDYCA&ved=0CDkQ6AEwAjgK#v=onepage&q=irving%20block%20and%20allen%20adler&f=false
     
    Last edited: Aug 9, 2013
  8. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    But fortunately, you've found some actual evidence, so we can start to get somewhere. The book you cite says, "Block later claimed that its central idea of a father and daughter shipwrecked in space was lifted from his favourite play, William Shakespeare's The Tempest...". That's a beginning, at least. Of course, a claim made after the fact isn't completely authoritative -- this whole thread demonstrates that such claims often distort the facts. In the name of the fact-checking that this thread is about, it would help to have corroboration from an independent source.
     
    Last edited: Aug 9, 2013
  9. Sir Rhosis

    Sir Rhosis Commodore Commodore

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    I regretted my choice of words and edited my post (probably as you were checking the link) before your reply appeared.

    Apologies for projecting my own thoughts onto you.

    Sir Rhosis
     
  10. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    ^I've edited mine too. No offense taken, though.
     
  11. ZapBrannigan

    ZapBrannigan Commodore Commodore

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    When they were promoting O Brother, Where Art Thou (a movie starring George Clooney), the Coen brothers repeatedly claimed they had based the story on Homer's Odyssey. Later they admitted that they'd never actually read it. Obviously, that doesn't relate directly to topic; it's just a tangent.

    Also, Robert Comsol: I think everyone's seen Forbidden Planet, but if you're going to divulge Shakespeare plot elements, you might want to call spoiler alert. :)
     
  12. Sir Rhosis

    Sir Rhosis Commodore Commodore

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    Well, since I've been scouring the net for FP material, I stumbled across this thread on an SF related board. This gentlemen knows more (and owns more behind-the-scenes material) than anyone I've ran across. Even posted a draft of the script. Hope it is okay to link. The photos and script run from about pages 4-10, for those who don't want to wade through all the posts.

    http://www.phpbber.com/phpbb/viewto...tdays=0&postorder=asc&start=0&mforum=allscifi

    Sir Rhosis
     
    Last edited: Aug 9, 2013
  13. Robert Comsol

    Robert Comsol Commodore Commodore

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    You are right, of course, I apologize. In my defense I merely hope I got readers unfamiliar with The Tempest interested in reading it and doing some fact-checking for themselves. ;)

    I also have no doubt that the plot element of "father and daughter shipwrecked in a desolate place" (by whose doing I can't help to add asking...) was inspirational for Forbidden Planet but it's just what it is, a plot element. Frankly, I feel the whole The Tempest references to have been a means to encourage intelligent and demanding audiences to go and watch this film ("this is not the pulp you had to watch thus far"). I can't possibly find fault with that, but looking back I feel it isn't entirely accurate.

    Since the suspicion has been brought up that sometimes the producers didn't know exactly what they were talking about (unless they had benefitted from a great education, actually owned a copy of the literary work cited or had a good public library) I have to add an example from 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea.

    The devoted Cinefantastique issue (with the great cover artwork by Andrew Probert which, BTW, you can purchase through his mail order shop) - the best research work I'm familiar with (other suggestions most welcome!) - states that the producers invented the background of Captain Nemo claiming it had not been established by Jules Verne's work.

    Of course, this is manure!

    In his "sequel" Mysterious Island Verne established in detail the (Indian) biographical background of Captain Nemo so either the producers weren't aware of that or decided to ignore it. The latter one is my personal theory, because they pimped up the original 20,000 Leagues story by combining it with a far lesser known work of Verne that suggested the discovery of a weapon of mass destruction (depicted as a sort of cruise missile).

    (My apologies to Harvey. I seriously hadn't intended to derail your thread, but since "fact-checking" was a sub-issue and in the context of the 1950's and 1960's, I hope you didn't find it that offensive)

    Bob
     
  14. Harvey

    Harvey Admiral Admiral

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    Slowly piecing together a piece which will probably be ready on Monday or Tuesday.

    Have a couple of questions which perhaps people here will know the answers to.

    Anyone know the source of these drawings of the IDIC? I would guess The Art of Star Trek or The Star Trek Sketchbook, but my copies of both are currently in storage.

    Secondly, I've read conflicting reports about who designed the piece itself. Ralph Senensky's blog says Roddenberry designed it. This site (with the drawings) indicates that William Ware Theiss designed it.
     
  15. alchemist

    alchemist Commander Red Shirt

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    Art, p. xii

    FWIW, Senesky told us that Roddenberry designed it. To hear him say this, go here, scroll down and then click on the "Is There In Truth No Beauty" tab. Then click on the IDIC button: http://startrekhistory.com/interviews.html#RALPH
     
  16. Harvey

    Harvey Admiral Admiral

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    Thanks!
     
  17. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    The text on that page in The Art of Star Trek reads:
    So I think the most likely scenario is that Theiss designed the medallion under Roddenberry's guidance -- the standard relationship between art staffer and showrunner where the showrunner tells the artist what he's looking for, the artist comes up with various suggestions, the showrunner picks the elements he likes, and back and forth until a final design is reached.

    Then again, that first pencil sketch (actually the last drawing on the TAoST page) seems to be in a cruder hand than one would expect of Theiss, and I'm not sure the handwriting matches Theiss's in the costume sketches reproduced elsewhere in the book. So that initial sketch could've been Roddenberry's. But the caption includes it among the "sketches by Theiss." Harvey, do you have copies of any documents with Roddenberry's handwriting on them for comparison purposes?

    Anyway, I suppose I would credit it to Roddenberry and Theiss together, with the proviso that GR's involvement may have been no greater than his input into the design of the Enterprise or any of its sets, costumes, props, etc. Which is to say, he would've always had input and approval into the designs, but he usually isn't given credit for it.
     
  18. Harvey

    Harvey Admiral Admiral

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    Thanks, Christopher.

    I don't believe I have any samples of Roddenberry's handwriting. Most of my collection of memos consists of my own transcriptions of documents, not photocopies (which are costly and only allowed for some items at UCLA).
     
  19. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    Here's a sample of GR's handwriting I found:

    http://4.bp.blogspot.com/_XNPD380IpBQ/TBAScvODtEI/AAAAAAAAKWI/iCCSptZofuo/s400/P279_6.jpg

    This memo is reproduced on p. 148 of Inside Star Trek, and the caption refers to "Roddenberry's handwritten annotations." I actually found it before, but I saw the memo was from Justman so I assumed it was his handwriting. But then I remembered it was in IST, so I double-checked, and voila.

    I'm no handwriting analyst, but to my eye they look like they're definitely the same hand. The cursive f and t are are similar in both, and the printed "an" in the standalone "man" in the IDIC sketch looks like that in "planet" in the middle line of the memo's margin notes. Plus they're both in a cramped and messy hand, while the Theiss handwriting samples reproduced in TAoST are larger and cleaner. So my entirely non-expert opinion is that the rough IDIC sketch, despite being credited to Theiss in TAoST, is actually by Roddenberry.

    So that would mean Roddenberry came up with the basic triangle-and-circle idea, and Theiss refined it under his supervision.
     
  20. Maurice

    Maurice Vice Admiral Admiral

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    You might notice a familiar name in that thread. ;)