Why Star Trek Fans Should Still Watch The Original Star Trek: The Motion Picture, According To Producer David Fein

Ask any Star Trek fan who's seen the Director’s Edition of Star Trek: The Motion Picture, and more often than not they’ll agree it’s the superior cut of the movie. That’s not really surprising to hear considering the original cut of the 1979 movie was rushed to theaters, and much of the effects were unfinished. Given that, one might wonder why anyone with a Paramount+ subscription can check it out right now. It turns out producer David Fein has an excellent reason for its continued availability, and why it’s still worth watching even with the latest 4K cut of the Director’s Edition. 

I had the honor of speaking to David Fein about the Director’s Edition of Star Trek: The Motion Picture, and after learning about the additional improvements, I had to ask if he felt there was a reason for people to watch the original. Fein, of course, was a fan of the original and expressed why it’s important to keep it available:

There’s something very important that means a lot to everyone I believe, and even to me, and there’s more to a film than just what you’re watching. There’s what it means to you as a person, and if you started watching Star Trek: The Motion Picture and fell in love with the film as it was? That’s like your childhood. That’s going home again and being able to appreciate the presentation. If it’s different, you can’t have that nostalgic feeling.

David Fein really just laid it all out right there. Sure, Star Trek: The Motion Picture may not be the most acclaimed film of the franchise, but it does have fans. For some, it was the first time they saw parts of the Enterprise never seen before, and it was just exciting to see these beloved characters on a big screen. 

For those reasons and likely many others, David Fein believes the original Star Trek: The Motion Picture needs to remain available. That’s not the only version he’s campaigned for to continue to have a place in the franchise. Fein talked about wanting to make sure the extended edition had a chance to shine, and wanting to make sure the latest Director’s Edition upgrade didn’t overshadow that: 

That’s why I fought hard early on–I mean, it wasn’t much of a fight–but I presented the idea that we want to also give the special longer version a chance to be out there because that became the home video version. And again, that’s like going home or Thanksgiving. If you take those away from somebody, how can they really experience what they fell in love with?

While some franchises have no problem removing past iterations of a film and even making significant changes to the meaning of scenes, it doesn’t appear Star Trek wants to do that. At least, this is true when it comes to Star Trek: The Motion Picture, and if fans have a particular version of the movie they want to watch, rest assured, it’s available for them to watch (minus the forgotten pitch where Captain Kirk fought Jesus). 

With all of that said, David Fein is obviously proud of the status the Director’s Edition has achieved thanks to the work that's been done over the decades on the movie (especially in upping the scare factor in that transporter accident). Fein expressed that towards the end of his response, as well as his love for all the versions of Star Trek: The Motion Picture:

I’m thrilled that the Director’s Edition has finally taken its proper place as the premier version of the film. But, you’ll find that those [other versions] still have a significance both for people personally, but also historically. You go to any big video release right now and if they say, ‘Includes work print,’ people get excited to see how it progressed. Well, they’ve had 40 years of being able to see how it’s progressed, and that’s why I’m excited about the special longer version because it fills that emotional need for people.

So for any fan who watches the Director’s Edition of Star Trek: The Motion Picture and still prefers one of the earlier cuts of the movie, that’s ok. Ultimately, fans are allowed to enjoy the thing that resonates with them the most, which should be a motto for all Trek fans to remember. For now, let’s just be happy the franchise allows people to have options and doesn’t force the community to acknowledge one version of a movie over another. Now if we could just get the franchise in the habit of actually making Star Trek 4 happen, we’d really be in business!

Star Trek: The Motion Picture's Director's Edition is now available in 4K and can be purchased in stores. Of course, it can also be viewed on Paramount+ (opens in new tab), so check it out, and maybe watch the original release as well, even if it does rank towards the bottom of our favorite Star Trek movies. Fans can also check out the new Star Trek shows available, as there’s still some new stuff on the way throughout the rest of the year.

Mick Joest
Content Producer

Mick likes good television, but also reality television. He grew up on Star Wars, DC, Marvel, and pro wrestling and loves to discuss and dissect most of it. He’s been writing online for over a decade and never dreamed he’d be in the position he is today.