Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan Screenplay
All ten of the “original” Star Trek (and Next Generation) films are on HBOMax, after having disappeared from Paramount+ in recent months. Far be it for us mortals to understand the grandfathered licensing deals going on here.
If you check out Star Trek: The Motion Picture, Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan and Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country, they each contain as a “bonus” the “Director’s Cut.”
Now this is the way to do it: have both the original and revised versions available in first-rate quality, beside each other.
ST:TMP is the new Director’s Cut that premiered on Paramount earlier this year, while TWOK and TUD are the Nick Meyer-prepared home video releases of recent vintage.
I watched most of the expanded Star Trek II cut—because with all the hundreds of great movies I’ve never seen just a keystroke away, I’d rather watch this again!
It’s easily my favorite Star Trek movie, and one of my all-time favorite films, period. There are so many reasons why—but mostly because it plays as a first-rate, serious piece of drama, and doesn’t have all the “winking” to its own status as a pop-culture institution.
After TMP had made a mint but was regarded as a disappointment, the television division of Paramount was enlisted to make a sequel using all the expensive, standing sets...you know what? This is like bedtime stories for Trekkies. You guys know this already.
It’s a great, great movie. Shatner has never been better—and Spock’s death would stand as one of the all-time great character deaths had he not been resurrected in the next film. Plus that magnificent James Horner score!
It’s crazy to think the movie is now 40 years old. 1982 was the pinnacle of the “first wave” of great sci-fi/fantasy films using new VFX technology: Blade Runner, E.T., Poltergeist...I mean, wow.
The point today is to alert you to the fact that what is evidently the film’s shooting script—as opposed to a published script retroactively conformed to the final edit—is available at a great Trek site called Star Trek Minutiae.
If you love this movie like I do, you’ll be fascinated by all the subtle differences and extra bits of dialogue and scenes that were later trimmed own—sometimes on set (given unbroken takes), sometimes in editing.
And also, Nick Meyer’s writing is just a delight to read—his seemingly effortless simplicity and humanity. Some people are just really talented!
If you’re too lazy to read anything, here’s a YouTube video on the original vs. expanded cut:
Here’s a NATO showreel (industry trailer) with some bits of deleted scenes and lines:
And here’s a piece of deleted audio (near the end of this video) that would have explained that Sulu was soon to be the captain of the Excelsior:
The be-all and end-all book about The Wrath of Khan by John and Maria Jose Tenuto is scheduled to be published by Penguin Random House—next Stepember?!? We have to wait another whole year?
In the meantime, have fun with all this TWOK stuff, like the 1982 Entertainment Tonight coverage:
And promo interviews:
If you want to read more of my ramblings about Star Trek, just sort this blog by the “Star Trek” category.