I am listening to the Star Trek movie soundtrack albums as I type, and I once again felt shivers run up and down my spine as I listened to ‘Stealing the Enterprise’, a track from James Horner’s original score for Star Trek III: The Search for Spock (1984). You can listen to it here, and the bit that gets the shivers going starts around the 6:13 mark and lasts for about a minute. Both the movie and the soundtrack album are an odd mix of strengths and flaws, but man, the moment represented here — the moment before Captain Stiles tells Admiral Kirk that he will never sit in the captain’s chair again if he goes ahead with his plan, and Kirk very deliberately ignores Stiles and goes ahead with it — always gets to me. I think the music at this point captures very well that sense of fateful choices being made, of intense loyalty causing friends to act outrageously on each other’s behalf, of people facing life-and-death matters that are so important they are prepared to suffer the consequences for their decisions. Overall, of course, I prefer Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan (1982) — both the film and the soundtrack album — but there is something about a person openly disobeying his own people that is inherently more dramatic than a person fighting for survival against an enemy. As the late, great Albus Dumbledore once said, “It takes a great deal of courage to stand up to our enemies, but just as much to stand up to our friends.” And for what it’s worth, the only single bit of movie music that gets to me as consistently as this is ‘The Map Room – Dawn‘ from John Williams’ score for Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981) — which is kind of funny, because the scene in question is only about a map; the really mystical stuff in that movie comes up in other scenes.
It never fails. (Soundtrack affirmation.)
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Peter T. Chattaway was the regular film critic for BC Christian News from 1992 to 2011. In addition to his award-winning film column for that paper, his news and opinion pieces have appeared in such publications as Books & Culture, Christianity Today, Bible Review and the Vancouver Sun. He has also contributed essays to the books Re-Viewing The Passion: Mel Gibson’s Film and Its Critics (Palgrave Macmillan, 2004), Scandalizing Jesus?: Kazantzakis’s The Last Temptation of Christ Fifty Years on (Continuum, 2005) and The Bible in Motion: A Handbook of the Bible and Its Reception in Film (De Gruyter, 2016).