For the Love of Spock (2016)
A Logical Love letter to Star Trek’s Iconic Vulcan
For the Love of Spock started as a Star Trek 50th anniversary tie-in documentary helmed by Adam Nimoy, Leonard Nimoy’s son. After Leonard’s passing in 2015, the focus of the documentary became more personal for Adam–turning into an exploration of the man known as Spock, whom he also called Dad.
As director, Adam Nimoy crafts a caring, entertaining, and insightful narrative of his father’s life and the impact of his enduring character, Mr. Spock. Bridging the past to the present, the documentary weaves reflections from cast members from Star: Trek The Original Series as well as the recent Trek films–including interviews from J.J. Abrams, Simon Pegg, Zoe Saldana, Zachary Quinto, and Karl Urban. The documentary also features the diverse fandom that includes NASA engineers and a certain astrophysicist (yes, Neil deGrasse Tyson has mad love for Spock!). Interviews with Star Trek fans underscore that the character Mr. Spock was more than the sum of his idiosyncrasies–mindmelds, neck pinches, brow raises and salutes. To quote a fan, Spock resonates because he has “an otherness everyone can relate to in their own way.”
I especially enjoyed the unfolding of Leonard Nimoy’s multi-faceted career as an artist. Highlights include glimpses of Leonard’s post-Trek life in theater, his work as a director (a nice reminder he directed 3 Men and a Little Baby!), and his lifelong love of photography. Fun fact: Did you know Harry Belafonte’s concert performance style influenced the ‘less is more’ approach we’ve come to know and love from Spock? Leonard was an artist’s artist, observing artists at the peak of their craft to inform his own practice. And keeping true to an artist’s sense of integrity, I also appreciated hearing how Leonard advocated to have Nichelle Nichols and George Takei voice their characters in Star Trek: The Animated Series when the network was considering other actors.
While the documentary followed the traditional rhythms you’d expect, striking the notes on celebration and reflection, I did find myself pleasantly surprised at the pops of humor in the documentary. When Adam Nimoy interviews George Takei about the phenomenon of slash fan fiction, it felt as if I was witnessing the trekkie version of “the talk.” And of course, the documentary finds a way to take a good-hearted jab at Leonard singing that Bilbo Baggins song.
Truly saving the best for last, I watched patiently as the names of hundreds of Kickstarter supporters rolled on screen at the documentary’s end. The Kickstarter campaign for this documentary was hugely successful. It warmed my heart to see the fandom return its love in full for an actor who was always appreciative of the love from Trek fans.
**4 out of 5 Cosmic Afros**