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The Concept Album

3 January 2013

So, I was thinking about a thing. That tends to happen when I’m awake, or, like last night, when it’s close to 2 a.m., I know I have to be up at 5:00, and I still can’t sleep. Anyway, as I imagine everyone would in that situation, I was thinking of the Ralph McQuarrie concept art for Star Trek: The Motion Picture.

I’m not sure where I first came across this collection of concept drawings, but I have the feeling it was well before the time of the Internet. I know it was during my most die-hard period of Star Trek fandom, where I could actually sit through Star Trek: The Motion Picture all the way through without wandering off for snacks or a nap (it’s really long, people). And I know that it was during this time (1990-1992 or so), because I absolutely hated what Ralph had put together.

The Star Trek people knew they wanted to restart the franchise somehow, and they knew they wanted something different. What Ralph gave them was probably (in their minds) a little too different.

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As I said, back then, I hated Ralph’s concept art as much as they must have. But nowadays, I wonder… what if they’d gone the other way? What if they’d said “This isn’t out there enough?” What if they’d really gone for it, really pushed the envelope and made something truly weird, something the fanbase definitely wouldn’t have seen coming?

Star Trek might not have been the enduring classic it turned out to be if they’d gone this way… but damn if I wouldn’t have watched the hell out of that movie. Well, now, at least. 1991’s version of me would have recoiled in horror.

So what sci-fi movie or book have you seen that really went for it? That was really out there? And how did that work out?

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3 Comments leave one →
  1. 3 January 2013 0632

    I think it’s fair to say that 2001 went for it. Sure, there were familiar things (Pan Am), but the end definitely pushed. Aronofsky’s The Fountain…I’d consider it sci-fi. I need to watch it again. 12 Monkeys…but I gotta say that ’cause I love Gilliam’s stuff. (Even though he didn’t write that one.) Dark City was almost there for me, but kind of fell at the end. At least it had Jennifer Connelly. Jeunet’s The City of Lost Children. Hell, throw in Gilliam’s Brazil, just ’cause.

    • 3 January 2013 0738

      I haven’t gotten around to The Fountain yet. I really should.

      Gilliam really went for it on Brazil. I think you can safely say Kubrick pretty much went for it on everything.

      Did you notice Dark City used a lot of the same sets as City of Lost Children? For the record, Dark City is still one of my favorite films.

      • 4 January 2013 0933

        I didn’t notice that about the sets, but thinking about it…I can see it. I love Dark City…it almost made it to my all time faves list. I need to see it again.

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