Star Trek: First Contact – The Making of the Classic Film in Review
Normally, making-of books for big movies are released around the time of the movie’s release, and indeed there was a Making Of Star Trek: First Contact written by Lou Anders, Larry Nemecek, and Ian Spelling, published by Titan in December 1996. That collected the articles from Titan’s Official Movie Magazine and Official Poster Magazine with lots of photographs and a section of design art by John Eaves. This book by Joe Fordham is not that book – though it is also published by Titan Books, and does contain some of the same photos, and the John Eaves artwork – as it is a new work that looks at the background of the film and its subsequent legacy role in Star Trek’s development. In other words, it’s more analytical and informational, less of a promotional advertisement for the film, than the earlier book was.
Split into chapters covering the desire to choose a direction for the movie, to choose a director, the writing, the design, and the effects, etc., this is a well-designed book, and gorgeously illustrated with a mix of previously seen and unseen photographs and designs. There are a lot of pictures of costume tests, models being built, and set and prop details – this publication will be invaluable for modellers and cosplayers seeking good detail on bits of the Enterprise and Phoenix, and on the Borg costumes.
It’s also worth praising the fact that the text is clear and contrasting, not generally overlapping with photos that mess with the readability. Some of the captions are very pale pink, though, which may be trickier for those with certain eye conditions.
And what of that text? What’s it all about? Well, it’s not a rehash of the 1996 book. Rather, it’s assembled from various new interviews and chats that Fordham has conducted with members of the cast and crew. That gives it a whole different perspective than the prior book, and while some memories may have changed over the years, there’s also been documentation to consult that keeps things straight. It’s not a promotional book this time, because it’s about a film that came out over twenty-five years ago, but it’s not quite a warts-and-all approach, even when Rick Berman is quoted mildly mentioning Gene Roddenberry’s attempt to claim the creation of the Borg for himself from Maurice Hurley, which was never allowed to be mentioned back in the day. It much more sticks to straightforward information and anecdotes from the cast and crew.
As an informational package, there’s not really a lot that’s truly new information or detail – there have been many previous articles, books, DVD commentaries, etc. – but it does gather its revelations in a handy, and very pretty, single volume. That makes it a lot easier to consult for tidbits than having to search for the right Memory Alpha piece, or fast forward through a commentary for. Really, though, the main draw here are the illustrations: many gorgeous, many fascinating, and all in really high quality. It’s not an analytical film studies academic text, but it’s a lovely reminder of a great movie, which will probably renew anyone’s desire to watch it again.
David A McIntee is a writer and historian who has written for properties such as Doctor Who, Star Wars, Final Destination, and Stargate, as well as having written several adventures in the Star Trek franchise for Pocket Books. He has contributed many pieces to the magazines Star Trek Explorer (née Star Trek Magazine) and Star Trek Communicator, as well as having written nonfiction books about Star Trek: Voyager.