TL;DR – For The Love Of Spock is a beautiful reminder that human beings are immensely complex entities and a masterpiece in asking the question of where do our views of a man intersect with who he really is.
Tomorrow Rogue One is coming out in cinemas and once again Star Wars is going to absorb the cultural and science fiction landscape for a while, but before that happens I wanted to take a moment to look at the other sci-fi juggernaut Star Trek, and as we draw to a close on the 50th anniversary of Star Trek it is only fitting that we examine one of the characters that started it all Spock, and the man behind it Leonard Nimoy, and of course who is better to tell that story than Leonard’s son Adam.
Because of the theme of the documentary, I think it’s good to explore how I came to Star Trek. As a kid growing up in the 90s I had heard of Star Trek, even see a few episodes here and there on late night TV here in Australia, but my first real introduction to the series came when my father accidently set the VCR up to tape the wrong TV station, so instead of recording Babylon 5 we had an episode of Deep Space Nine (an irony not lost on people) and from then I was hooked. I absorbed everything I could find but as a kid, those older episodes of the Original Series always felt dated and old … oh, the folly of youth. As I’ve grown up I have come to see them for the trailblazing phenomenon that they are, but that slight disconnect meant that I never saw Spock as the icon that he is, but then that is what the documentary is all about, how the world saw Spock was different for different people but also something much more personal than that.
There are a lot of documentaries out there in the world but few of them tell a story so personal than that of a father and his son, let alone when the son is the one making the documentary about his father. However because of this really personal approach we see a multitude of sides to Leonard Nimoy and also how he is viewed differently and infinite diversity in infinite combinations. Do you see him as Spock, do you see him as Leonard, do you see him as the holdout, do you see him as the champion, do you see him as the dramatic artist, do you see him as the alcoholic, or do you see him as a dad? Having Adam be the driving force behind For the Love of Spock gives it an authenticity that you don’t usually find in these types of documentaries, but it also is a brave move because it means your whole life is on view from the good times to the bad, the heartache, the estrangement, and those deeply personal moments. It is this juxtaposition that drives the documentary forward and gives you insight into a deeply complicated man and his relationships.
Narratively the documentary is roughly sorted into a chronological order of Leonard Nimoy’s life from childhood to old age. This allows there to always be a driving force to the documentary as time is that universal constant, giving a sense of progression but also the sense of dread as inevitably it is leading to that heartbreaking end. However, it is not just a clinical description of Leonard’s life, it is also interspersed with Adam exploring aspects of his father’s life in the present, like Star Trek conventions and discovering slash fiction and interviewing those who knew him personally, professionally, and those people he inspired. This means you can have a discussion about the realities of a man who worked extensively to support his family, but that also meant he didn’t have much time to spend with his family, you can talk about those years you joined him as he was flying his Cessna across America to appear in the Theatre, and time Leonard stood up to the producers of the Star Trek Animated Series when they decided not to have George Takei and Nichelle Nichols back to voice their characters, as Walter Koenig sums up “how many times does this happen in this business”. However, it allows you to look at his battles, with the studio, with addiction, and also with his own family.
Having Adam direct the documentary has the benefit of devising some interesting conversations where people are not just answering questions but having a conversation with Adam about his dad. Know I now for some this breaks that distance that many think should exist between the filmmakers and the subject, but for me, I think it adds a powerful dimension to the interviews. This is coupled with Adam reading a letter Leonard wrote to him, which we hear passages from throughout the film, this is a very personal letter for both Adam and Leonard, and is an example of the fractious relationship they often shared. Not only does Adam show, discuss and analysis his father, but he also allows the viewer access to his personal life, which is rare for a filmmaker, however, it adds an important if heart-breaking dimension to the documentary.
In the end, do I recommend For the Love of Spock?, of course, I do, it is a beautiful insight into one of the most iconic actors and characters of the 20th century. Indeed I recommend it even if you have never watched a single moment of Star Trek in your life, because it is a fascinating insight into the complexities of human beings, as time goes on we have become more and more attached to simple narratives, so it is good to be reminded that the world is not simple narrative it is complex, people are complex, you are complex, Leonard Nimoy was complex.
By Brian MacNamara: You can follow Brian on Twitter Here, when he’s not chatting about Movies and TV, he’ll be talking about International Relations, or the Solar System.
Have you watched For the Love of Spock?, let us know what you thought in the comments below, feel free to share this review on any of the social medias and you can follow us Here. Check out all our past reviews and articles Here, and have a happy day.
Directed by – Adam Nimoy
Music by – Nicholas Pike
Cinematography by – Kevin Layne
Featuring – J.J. Abrams, Jason Alexander, Aaron Bay Schuck, Mayim Bialik, Marty Dormany, James Duff, Bobak Ferdowsi, Dorothy Fontana, Catherine Hicks, Jeffrey Katzenberg, Walter Koenig, Amy Mainzer, Adam Malin, Scott Mantz, Nicholas Meyer, Nichelle Nichols, Adam Nimoy, Julie Nimoy, Leonard Nimoy, Mel & Sybil Nimoy, Jim Parsons, Simon Pegg, Chris Pine, Bill Prady, Zachary Quinto, Zoe Saldana, Ben Shaktman, William Shatner, George Takei, Neil DeGrasse Tyson & Karl Urban
Rating – Australia: M; Canada: PG; NZ: na; UK: 12; USA: na