Synopsis: Mind Meld: Secrets Behind the Voyage of a Lifetime is an unprecedented 75-minute examination of the impact the Star Trek experience has had on the franchise’s most celebrated participants: William Shatner and Leonard Nimoy.
These two stars have arguably embodied the brightest icons in the sci-fi universe; Shatner as passionate Captain James T. Kirk, and Nimoy as logical-minded, half Vulcan Mr. Spock.
Now, in an unprecedented candid conversation at Nimoy’s Beverly Hills home, these two icons of popular culture share with each other, and the viewers, the behind-the-scenes adventures of one of the greatest franchises in entertainment history.
eyelights: Leonard Nimoy. the candid quality of the discussion.
eyesores: Shatner’s insincerity.
“You’re my best friend.”
I’m no great fan of William Shatner; his all-consuming ego and pretentiousness, the lack of respect that he has for the people he encounters in his travails, including his fans, annoy me to no end. Leonard Nimoy, however, I’m a HUGE fan of: He’s a conflicted individual who eventually came to terms with his demons. He expresses gratitude, warmth and intelligence at every turn. He’s a class act.
And let’s not forget that his iteration of Spock is my all-time favourite pop culture figure.
So I was obviously very interested the moment that I discovered ‘Mind Meld: Secrets Behind the Voyage of a Lifetime’, the unscripted, one-on-one dialogue between William Shatner and Leonard Nimoy from 2001.
Set on the lawn of Nimoy’s home in Bel Air, the 75-minute film shows these old friends sitting in chairs, face-to-face, and discussing their careers, personal lives and long-standing friendship. Although there isn’t much in the way of clips from their television and motion picture work, the documentary is bolstered with lots of terrific archival pictures, both personal and professional.
What’s terrific about this is just how effortless the exchange is, with each riffing off of the other: Shatner actually asked excellent questions, guiding the conversation while Nimoy reeled him in. I was impressed taken with the way that Nimoy sometimes redirected when the conversation when it went in certain direction that he clearly didn’t enjoy. He was resolute yet polite in his approach.
Nimoy’s gravitas and intelligence were in abundant supply as they spoke with candor about some of the darkest parts of their lives, such as his own alcoholism or their struggles with their work. And yet he also retained an effortless joviality, his laughter deep and infectious even at the most mundane of Shatner’s whimsical comments; in those moments, there was a sincere sparkle in his eyes.
Shatner’s sincerity is always in question; he’s often full of crap and I wouldn’t be surprised to find out that he was a compulsive liar – he certainly doesn’t have any reservations about BS-ing people. Having said this, I found him general congenial and naturalesque here. It helped of course that Nimoy wouldn’t take any crap from him and didn’t hesitate to correct him when he disagreed with a statement.
To me, some of the more interesting aspects of the dialogue were Nimoy’s discussion of the difference between working against Jeffrey Hunter and William Shatner, how he shaped Spock based on their personalities.
Also, Shatner talked about the animosity directed at him by the other cast members. He still doesn’t understand why. Ever the class act, Nimoy brought up an incident he also experienced, but didn’t name names.
Shatner claimed that the conventions gave the others a sense of importance they didn’t initially have and that this is where the anger all developed from – that they suddenly thought they were now equals in ‘Star Trek’.
I wonder if there’s any truth to it? It could make sense, but you can never know with the Shat.
I also found their discussion of death interesting, how Shatner is afraid of it, whereas Nimoy sees it more as a loss of consciousness, and how he’s become concerned with philanthropy, with leaving a positive legacy.
They also talk about Nimoy’s newfound love of erotic photography and visit inside Nimoy’s home, where he proceeds to show off his ‘Star Trek’ memorabilia, as well as other memories from his long career.
Frankly, I thought that it was nice to see that he’d come to terms with being identified as Spock to such a degree that he had all these keepsakes – there was a time he was extremely resentful of Spock. Nimoy talked about feeling peace and serenity now; he really seemed content. Meanwhile, Shatner said that he still felt driven, focused; all he could think about was the next project to work on.
This explains why Shatner seems to be everywhere these days; he just can’t seem to stop working, as though he were trying to cram as much as he could into his life before the flame extinguishes once and for all. (In fact, ‘Mind Meld’ was produced by Shatner to advertise his new website, and was released in conjunction with the Director’s Cut of ‘Star Trek: The Motion Picture’. Shatner never misses a beat.)
While ‘Mind Meld’ may not have given us as much insight into Shatner, this dialogue is nonetheless a pleasant look at both their actors’ lives and careers. And it’s just nice to see them get along like this.
Lord knows it wasn’t always the case.
And, sadly, it wasn’t to last.
Date of viewing: August 5, 2016