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Review: Trekkies (1997)

Trekkies (1997)

Directed by: Roger Nygard

Premise: A documentary about Star Trek fans, including interviews with cast members of the various television programs and character studies of a wide variety of fans.

What Works: Trekkies is a fascinating film to watch, as it simultaneously pokes fun at Star Trek’s most ardent fans but at the same time has deep respect for the institution of Star Trek. The film is done in the tradition of documentary filmmakers like Errol Morris, letting the interviewees reveal themselves. The film does not go out of its way to mock the fans, even when they do come off as rather strange, and ultimately Trekkies celebrates the joy that so many people have taken from this series. Some of the fans and cast members speak articulately about the meanings of Star Trek both personally and culturally and these range from inspiring creative or scientific endeavors to giving some fans a philosophy on life or even a reason to live. The film is also interesting as a time capsule; it was made in the late 1990s and captures Star Trek both at the height of its popularity and at the peak of the series’ richness as the original cycle of films were coming to a close and three series were being syndicated on television (The Next Generation, Deep Space Nine, and Voyager). Trekkies also includes interviews with original cast members, some of whom have passed away since the film was made and their inclusion in this documentary gives it a completeness that would not be possible if it were made today.

What Doesn’t: Whether Trekkies goes to the point of ridiculing the fans is a matter of debate and some have argued that the film does portray the fans in a negative light. The film does not get terribly deep into Star Trek and it helps to fully understand the documentary if the viewer is already acquainted with the franchise. 

DVD extras: None.

Bottom Line: Trekkies is a fine documentary and an exploration of a fan base and a subculture. Most Star Trek fans will likely enjoy it, but the film’s appeal is broader and anyone who has been a fan of something, whether it is science fiction or sports, or has been bewildered by those who are, can find something in this film.

Episode: #239 (May 17, 2009)