(written from a Production point of view)
|Star Trek III: The Search for Spock|
|Release date: 1 June 1984|
|←||3rd of 12 Star Trek films||→|
|←||104th of 728 released in all||→|
|←||Arc: Project Genesis (2 of 3)||→|
"A Dying Planet. A Fight For Life. The Search For Spock."
"All that they loved, all that they fought for, all that they stood for will now be put to the test... Join us on this, the final voyage of the starship Enterprise."
Admiral James T. Kirk, finding out he made a mistake by leaving Spock on the Genesis planet, must disobey orders and hijack the hobbled Enterprise to retrieve his best friend. However, a rogue Klingon seeking the secrets of the "Genesis torpedo" puts Kirk's mission – as well as the Enterprise, its crew, and Spock himself – in jeopardy.
- "USS Enterprise, Captain's Personal Log: With most of our battle damage repaired we are almost home. Yet I feel uneasy, and I wonder why... Perhaps it's the emptiness of this vessel. Most of our trainee crew have been reassigned; Lieutenant Saavik and my son, David, are exploring the Genesis planet, which he helped create; and Enterprise feels like a house with all the children gone. No... more empty even than that. The death of Spock is like an open wound. It seems I have left the noblest part of myself back there on that newborn planet."
As a result of Khan Noonien Singh's attempt to kill James T. Kirk using the Genesis Device, Spock is dead and a new planet has been created from matter within the Mutara Nebula. Dejected over the loss of Spock, the crew returns to port aboard the Enterprise for essential repairs to their ship, which was severely damaged in the battle against Khan.
A little over two hours away from the Earth Spacedock, Kirk asks Pavel Chekov to take the science station – Spock's old post – for a pre-approach scan. He asks Uhura about an inquiry he made on Project Genesis: Uhura replies that there was not yet a response from Starfleet Command. He then gets a status report from Chief Engineer Montgomery Scott, who says automation will be ready for docking, and states he can have the ship repaired for her next cruise within two weeks, compared to his recommended repair time of eight weeks. Kirk observes that Scotty always multiplies his repair estimates by a factor of four in order to maintain his reputation as a miracle worker. Before leaving the bridge, handing Hikaru Sulu the command con, one of the few remaining Starfleet Academy cadets aboard asks if a reception will greet them. Kirk replies there should be one, remarking, "This time we paid for the party with our dearest blood!"
Somewhere off in space, a freighter with a female Klingon, Valkris, awaits somebody. That somebody is her lover, the warrior Kruge, who suddenly decloaks in a Klingon Bird-of-Prey. Once there, she transmits data to the Bird-of-Prey, which from brief flashes can be ascertained to relate to Project Genesis. When Valkris reveals that she had seen the data, Kruge reluctantly determines that she must die, and subtlely relays this to Valkris, who understands. After conveying their mutual admiration for each other, Kruge destroys the freighter. This also means he does not need to pay the freighter's crew for their work. He sets course for the Federation-Klingon Neutral zone.
Enterprise reaches Earth and approaches the spacedock. During the approach, they see a new ship: USS Excelsior, a part of the "Great Experiment", an attempt at transwarp drive. Although Sulu seems to be in awe of the possible capabilities of the ship, Scotty is less than impressed, commenting "If my grandmother had wheels, she'd be a wagon..." Suddenly, Chekov, who is at the science station, notes that someone has entered Spock's quarters. When Uhura adds that the sealed room's door was forced, Kirk goes to investigate. Inside, he finds Dr. Leonard McCoy, mumbling about locations on Vulcan, particularly Mount Seleya, before fainting. Kirk calls for a medic.
Once Enterprise is docked, they are met by Admiral Harry Morrow, Commander, Starfleet, who states that all crewmembers will be given the highest commendation of the Federation as well as extended shore leave, except for Commander Scott. Scotty will be reassigned to Excelsior as "captain of engineering." When Scotty complains, wanting to stay and help with the refit of the Enterprise, the crew finds out that the ship will not be refit. Morrow also states that Genesis has been quarantined, and only assigned vessels will be permitted to visit in the near future.
On the Bird-of-Prey, Kruge and his most trusted officers, Maltz and Torg, view the data on Project Genesis. The Klingons are impressed by the power, but Kruge bristles at the idea of the Federation making new planets for themselves. He resolves to travel to Genesis and seize whatever information he can. Kruge regards what he calls the "Genesis torpedo" as a powerful weapon, not a means of creating life.
The USS Grissom, with Lt. Saavik and Dr. David Marcus aboard, arrives at Genesis and begins exploring. During the initial scans of the planet's biosphere, its sensors discover Spock's casket on the surface harboring a lifeform that they cannot identify. Saavik and David Marcus try to convince Captain J.T. Esteban to allow them to beam down and investigate closer. Due to the sensitive nature of Genesis, Esteban keeps Starfleet in the loop with their every move. However, he reluctantly permits them to beam down and check it out.
At Kirk's apartment in San Francisco on Earth, he, Sulu, Chekov and Uhura toast "absent friends." Kirk reveals that the Enterprise is to be decomissioned. McCoy is sedated at home, apparently suffering "exhaustion," and promises he will behave himself. A sound at the door is anticipated to be Scotty, but instead it is Sarek, who demands a word alone with Kirk. Sarek is upset that Kirk did not follow what would have been Spock's final wishes, but Kirk is unaware of any particular request Spock would have made, and had no physical contact with him in the immediate moment of his death. Sarek believed Kirk would hold Spock's katra, his living spirit, but after a mind meld, Sarek does not find it - since they were on opposite sides of a wall, Spock would not have been able to meld with him. Sarek dejectedly says that, since the katra was not passed to Kirk, all of Spock is lost and turns to leave.
Before he reaches the door, Kirk asks him to stay, since he knows that, if the katra is as important as Sarek suggests, one way or another, Spock would have found some way to save it. After reviewing surveillance tapes at the time of Spock's death, they find out that it was Dr. McCoy that received his katra. Although it will be difficult, Kirk swears he will get Spock's body back and return him and Dr. McCoy to Vulcan so they can find peace.
Back at Genesis, Saavik and David transport down to conduct a closer examination of the unidentified lifeform. The duo discovers them to be an evolved form of microbe that had been present on the casket's surface when it was launched from the Enterprise. Opening the casket, they are puzzled to find Spock's body missing entirely, although they recover the burial robe. Before the scientists can speculate further, they are interrupted by what sounds like somebody screaming in the distance, and Saavik and Dr. Marcus set off to find the source.
Kirk's attempt to get the Enterprise back runs afoul of Admiral Morrow. Despite Kirk's plea, Morrow does not give him back Enterprise, and explicitly orders him not to return to Genesis, warning him, as a friend, to stop obsessing over this or it will ruin his career. Kirk determines to do it anyway, and with the help of his crew, puts his plan into work.
Meanwhile, Dr. McCoy, influenced by the katra, attempts to charter a black market civilian ship to Genesis, independent of his shipmates' efforts. Upon meeting the nameless alien, McCoy attempts to negotiate terms of passage without revealing the exact details of the exact destination, but the alien presses harder, and as the conversation escalates, McCoy reveals that the destination is the Genesis planet. The alien refuses very loudly, due to the planet's forbidden status, but McCoy persists when he is interrupted by Federation Security and arrested. Kirk and Sulu are subsequently forced to rescue the doctor. In the process they assault Federation personnel and the trio barely escape from the brig.
Despite being reassigned to Excelsior, Scotty has been secretly making essential repairs to the Enterprise in addition to slaving the ship's controls to the main bridge. The Captain of the Excelsior, Captain Styles makes an offhanded remark to Scotty about looking forward to breaking the speed records of the Enterprise, which doesn't sit well with Scotty at all. Uhura accepts a post as a transporter operator in San Francisco, with the covert task of beaming Kirk and company aboard the Enterprise at the required moment. Kirk and his crew (minus Uhura, who makes her way directly to Vulcan) rendezvous aboard the Enterprise, which is still docked within Spacedock.
Scotty has set up an automation system to allow control of the Enterprise just from the bridge. Although Kirk cannot ask his friends to go further, and that only he and McCoy must continue, Sulu, Chekov and Scotty hear none of it and insist on joining the flight. Unable to stop the Enterprise from opening the bay doors in Spacedock, the Excelsior is ordered to pursue. Styles sends a message to Kirk threatening him that if he goes through with this he will never sit in a captain's chair again. Kirk considers this but refuses to give up on Spock. "Warp Speed" Kirk says. Styles prepares to send the Excelsior into transwarp to intercept the Enterprise as soon as it went to warp. However, due to sabotage carried out by Scotty on its transwarp computer drive, the Excelsior's transwarp drive fails to activate and comes to a rough halt as the Enterprise escapes at warp speed. Meanwhile, aboard the Enterprise, Scotty hands McCoy a handful of parts from Excelsior's transwarp drive computer, as a souvenir "from one surgeon to another." Commenting on the excellent work, Kirk jokes that he will recommend his crew for promotions... "in whatever fleet we end up serving."
Unaware of events back in the Sol system, Saavik and Dr. Marcus locate a young Vulcan boy and conclude that it is Spock, somehow regenerated by the same process that created the Genesis planet. Captain Esteban is reluctant to permit Spock to be beamed aboard the Grissom immediately, and would prefer to contact Starfleet Command to receive instructions. This turns out to be fortuitous; shortly afterward, Kruge's Bird-of-Prey arrives. USS Grissom is unintentionally destroyed by a "lucky shot" from the ship's gunner. Kruge is furious, as he had desired to take the science ship, and its data, intact, and the crew as prisoners. Kruge summarily executes the gunner, vaporizing him with his disruptor. Torg points out to Kruge that there are life signs on the planet and surmises that it is a landing party, which pleases Kruge. Now marooned on the surface and in danger of being captured, Saavik, Dr. Marcus, and Spock flee to more defensible ground.
The cruise of Enterprise to the Genesis planet goes well. As Kirk asks for a scan ahead for any vessels around Genesis, Dr. McCoy, who is at the science station, gives an impression of Spock while reporting that they have not detected any vessels in pursuit of the Enterprise, to Kirk's amusement.
Kruge and several members of his crew beam to the surface of the Genesis planet to pursue the surviving crew of the Grissom. Saavik finally finds out why the Genesis planet is changing so rapidly: David had used protomatter in the Genesis device, a substance known to be unstable. The Genesis planet is not likely to remain stable for very long, and it is causing the rapid evolution of the lifeforms on the planet as well as making Spock age rapidly. As night falls on the planet, David guards the location where he, Saavik and Spock are hiding. Spock, now aged to adolescence, begins to experience pon farr. Saavik determines that the only way Spock will make it through this portion of his accelerated growth would be for her to mate with him.
As Enterprise approaches the Genesis planet, they briefly detect a ship, but it vanishes. They scan the planet, looking for life on it, and attempt to hail the Grissom. Meanwhile, as day breaks at their hiding place, David, Saavik and Spock are captured by the Klingons. Kruge demands to know the secrets of the Genesis Project, but neither David nor Saavik are forthcoming, and tell Kruge that the project was a failure. Shortly after, Kruge returns to his Bird-of-Prey to confront the Enterprise. As they sneak closer, Kirk and Sulu notice spatial distortions caused by the Bird-of-Prey's cloaking device. As soon as the Klingon vessel decloaks, Enterprise reflexively fires two photon torpedoes, both hitting. The advantage proves short-lived however as, after the initial shock of being hit, the Klingons swiftly regain control of their vessel and bear down on the Enterprise. Chekov tries to raise the Enterprise's shields, but finds the system non-responsive, and Scotty reports that the automation system is overloading under the strain of the unexpected combat situation. The Bird-of-Prey fires one plasma charge, which strikes the Enterprise near the bridge, causing a series of internal explosions. The crew recovers and Kirk orders return fire; before Scotty can do so though, the helm console sparks and bursts into flames, and Scotty grimly informs Kirk that the automation system has been destroyed by the Klingon blast, leaving the ship dead in space.
Aboard the Bird-of-Prey, Kruge becomes suspicious that the Enterprise isn't putting up more of a fight, considering it has far heavier armaments than his ship. Kirk then hails the Bird-of-Prey, demanding that the crew surrender within two minutes or face destruction. Kruge determines that Enterprise is less of a threat than Kirk is letting on, and calls Kirk's bluff, ordering him to surrender instead. He reveals that he has prisoners on the surface. Both David and Saavik speak to Kirk by communicator and Saavik reveals that Spock is with them, alive. David says that he can't believe that Kruge would kill them for Genesis, since the project was a failure. Kruge challenges that by ordering his men on the surface to kill any one of the prisoners. One of the men stalks behind the Grissom prisoners with his d'k tahg knife unsheathed. He chooses Saavik. However, as he rears back to sink the blade into the Vulcan's back, David jumps backward and attacks the Klingon. Thoroughly outmatched physically, David is knocked down and stabbed through the heart, while both Spock and Saavik can only watch and do nothing. With the communicator forced in her face, Saavik simply intones, "Admiral, David is dead."
Completely devastated, Kirk stumbles back and falls to the deck, cursing the Klingons for the needless death of his only son. Kruge gives Kirk two minutes to prepare to be boarded. With little time to grieve, Kirk orders his crew to abandon the Enterprise and orders the computer to begin a sixty-second auto-destruct sequence. With the Enterprise abandoned, the Klingons board the ship and begin stalking their way to the bridge. Torg signals Kruge and informs him the ship is deserted, the only voice coming from the computer as it counts down to zero. Kruge frantically tries to warn his crew to get off the ship, however, it is too late and the auto-destruct detonates: the bridge is engulfed in explosions that instantly kill the Klingon boarding party. As the great saucer disintegrates in a series of planned demolition explosions, a final detonation destroys the primary hull and knocks the lifeless hulk that was once the USS Enterprise out of orbit and into the atmosphere of Genesis. Safe on the planet's surface, Kirk, McCoy, Scotty, Sulu, and Chekov watch as their starship streaks across in the atmosphere burning. Blinking hard to fight back tears, Kirk asks McCoy for guidance. All McCoy can offer is that Kirk did what he had to do and what he always has done: turn death into a fighting chance for life.
Sulu detects lifeforms only a few kilometers away, and more worryingly that the planet's structure is beginning to totally destabilize. In that direction, Spock is going through a series of painful physical changes. He throws one of his two remaining Klingon guards to their death. The Enterprise crew finds them, and Kirk shoots the remaining Klingon. As McCoy examines Spock, who is now physically near his actual age, Kirk tends to David's body, covering him with his jacket. Savvik tells Kirk he gave his life to save her and Spock. McCoy says Spock is rapidly aging, but has no mind; McCoy suspects he possesses all of Spock's mentality.
Kirk taunts Kruge, who is mourning his crew, as a way to goad him into beaming them aboard the ship before the Planet destroys itself. Kruge beams down to the planet instead and holds them all at gunpoint, ordering Maltz to beam up Sulu, Chekov, Scotty, McCoy, and Saavik, but leaving Kirk and Spock. Kruge and Kirk fight; Kruge is prepared to kill himself in the battle. The two eventually end up on a cliff-side overlooking a lava stream, and Kruge nearly falls to his death when part of the cliff breaks off. Kirk offers to save Kruge's life, but he tries to drag Kirk into the chasm along with him, and Kirk finally declares that he has had enough of the Klingon and kicks him off the side of the cliff, where he meets a fiery death in a lava stream below. Kirk retrieves Spock, who is now unconscious but back to around the physical age he was when he died, and tricks Maltz into beaming him on board the Bird-of-Prey by impersonating Kruge. Maltz, the last remaining member of its crew, surrenders, and Kirk orders him to fly them to safety, but Maltz is content to let the ship be destroyed when the planet below explodes. Scotty figures out the Klingon systems, and they set a course for Vulcan as the Genesis planet finally blows itself apart.
The Bird-of-Prey lands near Mount Seleya, where it is greeted by Sarek and Uhura. A ceremony is then officiated by the Vulcan priestess T'Lar, who determines that Spock, indeed, is alive. Sarek, stating that his logic is uncertain as far as his son is concerned, requests that Spock's katra be reintegrated with its body in the fal-tor-pan ceremony. McCoy agrees to this despite being warned that there are risks involved. T'Lar initiates a mind meld with Spock and McCoy, and succeeds in restoring Spock's soul. Afterward, Sarek thanks Kirk, acknowledging him for all he's done for his son, and offers his condolences for the destruction of the Enterprise and the death of Kirk's son.
Spock rises and approaches his crewmates. He briefly engages in a conversation with Kirk, as if attempting to piece together his memory. In the end, he remembers his old friend: "Jim. Your name... is Jim." At this, Kirk smiles, and says "Yes." Spock looks back to Dr. McCoy, who taps his finger against his forehead knowingly. The rest of the Enterprise crew joyously huddle around Spock.
"...and the Adventure continues..."
"USS Enterprise, Captain's personal log. With most of our battle damage repaired, we're almost home. Yet I feel uneasy, and I wonder why. Perhaps it's the emptiness of this vessel. Most of our trainee crew have been reassigned. Lieutenant Saavik and my son, David, are exploring the Genesis planet which he helped create. And Enterprise feels like a house with all the children gone. No, more empty even than that. The death of Spock is like an open wound. It seems I have left the noblest part of myself back there...on that newborn planet."
"And Enterprise feels like a house with all the children gone. No, more empty even than that. The death of Spock is like an open wound."
- - Kirk's personal log
"Sir? I was wondering...are they planning a ceremony when we get in? I mean a reception?" "A hero's welcome, son? Is that what you like? Well, God knows there should be. This time we paid for the party with our dearest blood."
- - Foster and Kirk, on receiving a hero's welcome
"Oh yes. New cities and homes in the country. Your woman at your side. Children playing at your feet, and overhead, fluttering in the breeze, the flag of the Federation! Charming."
- - Kruge to his men after watching the Genesis briefing.
"To absent friends."
- - Kirk, toasting
"What'll it be?"
(giggles) "That's not your usual poison."
"...to expect one to order poison in a bar is not logical."
- - The Waitress taking McCoy's order
"Sir, I'm sorry, but your voice is carrying. I don't think you want to be discussing this subject in public."
- - Federation security officer, to McCoy after catching him in an unsuccessful attempt to buy passage on a black market civilian flight to the Genesis planet from an alien with very large ears.
"How many fingers do I have up?" (Makes a Vulcan hand salute)
"That's not very damn funny."
"Your sense of humor's returned."
"The hell it has!"
- - Kirk and McCoy, in McCoy's cell
"You're suffering from a Vulcan mind meld, Doctor."
"That green-blooded son of a bitch! It's his revenge for all the arguments he lost."
- - Kirk and McCoy
"That's Admiral Kirk, my god!"
"Very good for you, Lieutenant."
"But it'd damned irregular. No destination orders. No encoded IDs."
"Well what are we going to do about it?"
"I'm not going to do anything about it. But you are going to sit in the closet."
"The closet? Have you lost all your sense of reality?"
"This isn't reality." (turns and points a phaser at him) "This is fantasy! You wanted adventure, how's this? The old adrenaline going, huh? Good boy. Now get in the closet!"
"Go on, go on."
"I'll just get in the closet."
- - "Mr. Adventure" and Uhura
"I'm glad you're on our side."
- - McCoy, to Uhura
"Ah, Mr. Scott! Calling it a night?"
"Uh, yes sir."
"Turning in myself, looking forward to breaking the Enterprise's speed records tomorrow."
"Ah, yes sir. Good night."
- - Styles and Scott
"Up your shaft."
- - Excelsior turbolift and Scott
"A chimpanzee and two trainees could run her."
"Thank you, Mister Scott. I'll try not to take that personally."
- - Scott and Kirk, on the Enterprise bridge
"And... now, Mr. Scott."
"The doors, Mr. Scott!"
"Aye, sir, I'm working on it!"
- - Kirk and Scott, both hoping to avoid a collision with the still closed Spacedock doors
"Kirk! If you do this, you'll never sit in the captain's chair again."
- - Styles, to Kirk
"Scotty...as good as your word."
"Aye, sir. The more they overthink the plumbing, the easier it is to stop up the drain! (to McCoy) Here, Doctor. Souvenirs...from one surgeon to another. I took them out of her main transwarp computer drive."
- - Kirk and Scotty, on how the removal of four small parts can cripple the Excelsior
"Gentlemen, your work today has been outstanding. I intend to recommend you all for promotion...in whatever fleet we end up serving."
- - Kirk
"How are we doing?
"How are we doing? Funny you should put it that way, Jim. We are doing fine. But I'd feel a lot safer giving him one of my kidneys than what's scrambled in my brain!"
- - Kirk and McCoy
"Hello, sir. It's David."
"I'm sorry I'm late."
"It's OK; I should've known you'd come. But Saavik's right. This planet is unstable; it's going to destroy itself in a matter of hours."
"David, what went wrong?
"I went wrong."
"I don't understand."
"I'm sorry, sir. Just don't surrender. Genesis doesn't work. I can't believe they'd kill us for it."
- - David and Kirk
"You Klingon bastard! You've killed my son!"
- - Kirk, after Saavik delivers the bad news
"There are two more prisoners, Admiral. You want them killed, too? Surrender your vessel."
- - Kruge to Kirk, after Saavik's bad news about David
"My God, Bones. What have I done?"
"What you had to do. What you always do. Turn death into a fighting chance to live."
- - Kirk and McCoy, as the fiery Enterprise plummets
"Sorry about your crew. But as we say on Earth, c'est la vie."
- - Kirk, to Kruge
"You fool, look around you! The planet's destroying itself."
"Yes! Exhilarating, isn't it?"
"If we don't help each other, we'll die here."
"Perfect. Then that's the way it shall be!"
- - Kirk and Kruge, on the imploding Genesis Planet
"You - help us or die."
"I do not deserve to live."
"Fine, I'll kill you later."
- - Kirk and Maltz
"Where's the damn antimatter inducer?"
"This? No, this."
"That, or nothing!"
- - Scott and Chekov, trying to figure out how to fly the Bird of Prey
"Wait! You said you would kill me!"
- - Maltz and Kirk
"I'm going to tell you something that I never thought I'd hear myself say. But it seems that I've missed you. And I don't know if I could stand to lose you again."
- - McCoy, to Spock
"What you seek has not been done since ages past, and then only in legend. Your request is not logical."
"Forgive me, T'Lar. My logic is uncertain where my son is concerned."
- - T'Lar and Sarek, on the request of fal-tor-pan for Spock
"The danger to thyself is as grave as the danger to Spock. You must make the choice."
"I choose the danger!" (muttered) "Hell of a time to ask..."
- - T'Lar and McCoy, on fal-tor-pan
"Kirk, I thank you. What you've done is - "
"What I've done, I had to do."
"But at what cost? Your ship. Your son."
"If I hadn't tried, the cost would have been my soul."
- - Sarek and Kirk
"My father says that you have been my friend. You came back for me."
"You would have done the same for me."
"Why would you do this?"
"Because the needs of the one outweighed the needs of the many."
- - Spock and Kirk
"Jim. Your name is Jim."
- - Spock, as his memory begins to return
Harve Bennett's twenty-page outline for this film was entitled Return To Genesis. Bennett has said in various interviews and the Star Trek III DVD that the script was the easiest he had ever written, starting at the end of the movie with Spock alive again and working backwards from that point. Bennett also said that Paramount green-lighted this film faster than any film he ever worked on, having been told to "Start writing Star Trek III" within days of the release of Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan.
According to an article on io9.com,  Harve Bennett's original outline for Star Trek III would have involved Romulans coming to Genesis instead of Klingons and them finding the world very rich in dilithium. The Romulans then begin to mine the planet until the miners begin being killed by a feral Spock, who's aging was still tied to the aging of the planet. At the same time, Vulcan, upon hearing of the Genesis Device, is so horrified to discover that the Federation created such a potential weapon they want to secede from the Federation. This would have sent Kirk to Vulcan, with the crew of the Enterprise, to face the angry Vulcans. The article states that Robert Meyer Burnett, CEO of the Ludovico Technique and producer of the Star Trek: The Next Generation Blu-ray DVDs, felt like this would have been a more serious, "perilous" and above all epic story than the actual produced and released film — and it would have featured a Romulan commander along the lines of the thoughtful antagonist from the original Romulan story, "Balance of Terror."
In an early draft of the script, the Klingon Bird-of-Prey was originally to be a stolen Romulan vessel (the red "feather design" of the wings' underside was designed with the original Romulan Bird-of-Prey in mind), but that detail was dropped from the final draft.
Actor and director Leonard Nimoy also worked on the film's story, but his contribution went uncredited. Leonard Nimoy originally wanted Edward James Olmos as Kruge, but Paramount Pictures nixed the casting. Olmos went on to play William Adama in Ronald D. Moore's Battlestar Galactica revival in 2003.
There is an extra long pause between William Shatner's name and DeForest Kelley's during the opening credits where Leonard Nimoy's name would have been. To keep secret Leonard Nimoy's participation in this movie as an actor, official daily call sheets mentioned the adult Spock character only as "Nacluv" ("Vulcan" spelled backwards), played by "Frank Force". Nimoy continued the joke by using the pseudonym in the end credits for his cameo role as the (Excelsior) elevator voice. According to director/producer commentary for the two-disc DVD release, the destruction of the Enterprise was to be a secret (like Luke Skywalker's father in the Star Wars franchise), but the Paramount promotional department made this the biggest point of the initial trailers, calling it "The Death of the Enterprise."
In a 1987 interview with the Official Star Trek Fan Club magazine, Harve Bennett said that the destruction of the Enterprise was not in the original drafts of the script and was added later in writing when he and Leonard Nimoy realized they needed a dramatic life or death decision. After the film was finished, Bennett said he quietly vowed to restore the Enterprise at the proper time. The Enterprise was restored in Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home with the introduction of the Enterprise-A.
The Enterprise destruct sequence was previously used in TOS: "Let That Be Your Last Battlefield" with Spock's command codes used by Scotty, and Scotty's codes used by Chekov this time out. Further, Scotty refers to himself as "commander" when he was, in fact, recently promoted to captain (and is also wearing the captain insignia in the scene), although it is possible that the Enterprise computers were not updated to Scotty's new rank given that he was promoted to "captain of engineering" on Excelsior, and Enterprise had been scheduled for decommissioning.
Filming on Star Trek III began on Monday, 15 August 1983. The opening scene on the Enterprise bridge was the first to be filmed. The last shot was taken at Thursday, 20 October 1983 on the Excelsior bridge. When the film was released, the box office receipts were strong. The film grossed US$16.7 million in its opening weekend, approximately US$2.4 million more than Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan made when it first opened. In the long run, however, Star Trek III grossed a total of US$76.5 million domestically, falling just short of Star Trek II's US$78.9 million gross.
During production, a fire broke out behind the Paramount lot which caused minor damage to the Genesis Planet set. Among those who assisted in putting out the fire was actor William Shatner. According to William Shatner's Star Trek Movie Memories, he was in full Kirk costume and makeup when he helped with the fire. Shatner also accounted in his book that he was terrified the fire was going to hold up filming and thereby make him late for reporting back to start filming the new season of TJ Hooker, the police drama that Shatner was starring in at the time that Star Trek III (and later IV) was filmed.
The climactic fight between Kirk and Kruge was originally supposed to feature huge boulders that would "burst" up from the ground. On the day of shooting, however, the boulders failed to work properly and the scene was shot without them (however, one of them worked correctly and was used to propel Kruge into the air to attack Kirk at the onset of their fight).
After the Enterprise escapes from Spacedock, when Kirk orders a scan "for vessels in pursuit," an off-screen McCoy responds "scanning: indications negative at this time." However, it is in actuality the voice of Leonard Nimoy that the audience hears. This is left as an open-ended question to whether Kirk is imagining it, or if it is McCoy performing an impersonation, or more likely, another manifestation of Spock's katra (spirit), as witnessed in the scene in Spock's quarters, in which McCoy sits in the shadows, but speaks in Spock's voice. Sulu and Scott clearly react with shock/surprise, so evidently they heard the voice as well.
The Star Trek Compendium compares Kirk risking his career and even his life to save Spock to what Spock did for Captain Christopher Pike in the two part episodes TOS: "The Menagerie, Part I" and TOS: "The Menagerie, Part II".
This movie marks the first live-action appearance of Ambassador Sarek (Mark Lenard) since his introduction seventeen years earlier in TOS: "Journey to Babel". In the interim, he appeared in TAS: "Yesteryear"). The Excelsior-class, the Oberth-class, the Spacedock-type station, and the Klingon Bird-of-Prey all make their first appearances here. They continued to be used in Star Trek: The Next Generation, Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, and Star Trek: Voyager. The Bird-of-Prey appeared in four subsequent films until Star Trek Generations, its last film appearance. Judi Durand voices her first computer in this movie. She can be heard announcing that the space doors are closed. She went on to play the Cardassian computer voice in Star Trek: Deep Space Nine.
Paramount continued its practice of seeking design patents for designs from the Star Trek movies with this film as well. It obtained patents for several props, the Excelsior, and the Klingon Bird-of-Prey.
The toast made in Kirk's apartment, "Absent friends," is one of the traditional toasts of the Royal Navy. Jean-Luc Picard makes the same toast, in memory of one of his fallen crewmates, in Star Trek Nemesis. Kor adapted this toast, "to absent comrades" in memory of Jadzia Dax in DS9: "Once More Unto the Breach". Admiral Morrow states that the Enterprise is over twenty years old, but this is commonly misinterpreted as exactly twenty years old, which would coincide with The Original Series; however the ship was in service for at least eleven years prior to that, as Spock has stated himself.
During the scene where Kirk asks Admiral Morrow for permission to return to the Genesis Planet, the Epsilon IX station from Star Trek: The Motion Picture can be seen as a wall decoration hanging in the background. This film featured the first appearance of tribbles since TAS: "More Tribbles, More Troubles". They can be seen briefly in the first moments of the bar scene, before Dr. McCoy sits down. Although this film takes place immediately after The Wrath of Khan, Khan is never mentioned once. This movie is the first time that Chekov is heard to speak in Russian. He says "Я ни сумасшедший. Ну, вот!", ("Ja ni sumasšedšij. Nu, vot!") which roughly translates to "I'm not crazy. Well, look!" It is unclear why Chekov would speak Russian to Scotty.
According to the script, Kruge was described as a "Battle Commander" and was "a Klingon War Lord of handsome but frightening presence, and relative youth." This explains why Saavik, Valkris, and his crew refer to him as "my Lord." Kruge is the only Klingon in Star Trek history to have ever been addressed as such on screen.
This is the only Star Trek film with a main cast character's name in the title. In the TV shows, few had this privilege, and never the actual captain. The most present in titles is by far Data in TNG: "Datalore", "Elementary, Dear Data", "Data's Day" and "A Fistful of Datas". The second one, with two titles, is Julian Bashir from DS9: "Our Man Bashir" and "Doctor Bashir, I Presume". The other ones had just one occasion each: Spock himself in TOS: "Spock's Brain", Deanna Troi (who shared it with her mother Lwaxana) in TNG: "Ménage à Troi", and Quark in DS9: "The House of Quark". In Star Trek: Voyager, Tuvok and Neelix had to share the same character in "Tuvix". Among the recurrent characters, Q has had the lion's share with eight titles: TNG: "Hide and Q", "Q Who", "Deja Q", "Qpid" and "True Q", DS9: "Q-Less", and VOY: "The Q and the Grey" and "Q2".
Several costumes, props, and set dressing from this film were sold off on the It's A Wrap! sale and auction on eBay, including a pair of Vulcan gloves,  a lot of Genesis microbes,  Scott McGinnis' undershirt,  and one of Robin Curtis' costumes. 
- The bar in San Francisco, in which McCoy meets the alien, is a reused part from the sickbay of the Enterprise.
- For the bridge of the Grissom, the regular Enterprise bridge was used, with the captain's chair and the helm console twisted around. The covers of the seats were changed from white to pink.
- For the transporter complex, where Uhura beamed Kirk, McCoy, and Sulu to the Enterprise, the interiors from the Regula I space station were used.
Video and DVD releases
Awards and honors
Star Trek III: The Search for Spock received the following awards and honors.
|1985||Hugo Awards||Best Dramatic Presentation||Written by Harve Bennett, Directed by Leonard Nimoy||Nominated|
|Saturn Awards||Best Costumes||Robert Fletcher|
|Best Special Effects||Ralph Winter|
|Best Supporting Actress||Judith Anderson|
|Best Actor||William Shatner|
|Best Director||Leonard Nimoy|
|Best Science Fiction Film||-|
Links and references
- All credits
- Uncredited cast
- Jessie Biscardi as a Vulcan maiden
- Steve Blalock as a trainee crewmember
- Suzy Born as a Vulcan maiden
- Barney Burman as a bar alien (deleted scene)
- Charles Correll as a Spacedock Worker
- Debra Dilley as a Vulcan maiden
- Al Jones as a Klingon crewman
- Claudia Lowndes as an Officer's wife
- Eric Mansker as a bartender
- Danny Nero as a Vulcan guard
- Dennis Ott as a Klingon
- Paulette as a Vulcan maiden
- Nanci Rogers as a bar waitress
- Kimberly Ryusaki as
- Teresa Sloan as a bar patron
- Rebecca Soladay as a Vulcan maiden
- Philip Weyland as a Starfleet crewman
- Unknown performers as
- Uncredited stunt performers
- Uncredited production staff
- Bari Burman – Special Makeup Effects Artist
- Thomas R. Burman – Special Makeup Effects Artist
- Steve LaPorte – Special Makeup Effects Artist
- Kenneth A. Larson – Propmaker
- Tony McVey – Sculptor
- Leonard Nimoy – Writer
- Rick Stratton – Makeup Artist
- Professional VisionCare Associates – Contact Lens company
Altair water; antimatter inducer; Arcanis Lager; auto-destruct; automation center; blue alert; chimpanzee; cloaking device; computer voice; Constitution-class; d'k tahg; darts; Deltan; Enterprise, USS; Excelsior-class; Excelsior, USS; Federation-class; French language; Genesis Device; Genesis (planet); Genesis sector; Genesis worm; "Great Experiment, The"; Grissom, USS; Hermes-class; katra; kellicam; Klingon Bird-of-Prey; Klingon Empire; Klingon monster dog; Klingonese; Klingons; Kruge's Bird-of-Prey; lava lamp; lexorin; medical tricorder; McCoy, David; Merchantman; Mount Seleya; Mutara sector; Oberth-class; Old City Station; Orbital shuttle; Orbital shuttle 6; Orbital shuttle 7; parlor game; type 2 phaser; plant; Project Genesis; protomatter; prototype; retrothrusters; sabotage; Saladin-class; science vessel; shakedown cruise; Spacedock (Earth); orbital shuttle; Skon; Solkar; terminium; transwarp computer; transwarp drive; tricorder; Vulcans; Vulcan (planet); Vulcan gong; Vulcan mysticism; Vulcan nerve pinch; warp drive
The Star Trek III novelization shows that from her transporter station, Uhura was monitoring Starfleet channels and helping to jam and distort channels in order to aid in Kirk and company's escape attempt. Also, after Excelsior was disabled, it issued a distress call, and Uhura intercepted and dumped it, thinking that as Styles had usurped what was supposed to be Sulu's command, that he could sit out there and stew for a while. After the escape of Enterprise, Uhura quickly ran to the Vulcan Embassy and asked for asylum from Sarek, which he granted to her despite the protestations of Starfleet security who had followed Uhura there.
In the novelization, after their escape from Genesis, Saavik speculates to Kirk that billions of years in the future, the matter that formed the Genesis system may again coalesce into another star system, this time lacking the protomatter that doomed it and this time, the system should be stable and may well turn out in the way that David and Carol and their friends all intended.
- Star Trek III: The Search for Spock at the Internet Movie Database
- Behind the scenes on The Search for Spock at Forgotten Trek
- Filming Locations at Film in America
- Star Trek III: The Search for Spock at Memory Beta, the wiki for licensed Star Trek works
- Star Trek III: The Search for Spock at StarTrek.com, the official Star Trek website
- Star Trek III: The Search for Spock at Wikipedia
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Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home