Trekkies celebrate 50 years of Star Trek | Film | DW | 08.09.2016
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Trekkies celebrate 50 years of Star Trek

Half a century ago, a new species was found on Earth: the Trekkie. Even after 50 years, the Star Trek adventures on the Starship Enterprise still haven't been told to the end.

"Space: the final frontier. These are the voyages of the starship Enterprise. Its five-year mission: to explore strange new worlds, to seek out new life and new civilizations, to boldly go where no man has gone before."

That's how the first episode of "Star Trek" began on US television in the 1960s. On September 8, 1966 NBC aired the first episode titled "The Man Trap."

It was sci-fi with a message: a Russian, a Japanese and several Americans work together peacefully on the bridge. A black female officer watches over the communication. A human-like creature with pointed ears is the boss' right hand. People dissolve into molecules and settle on another planet and return in their natural shape. There extraterrestrial beings living in the form of vapor or light. And, of course, all the aliens speak English.

The series takes place in the year 2200, after mankind has survived the Third World War and peacefully formed the United Federation of Planets together with other alien life forms. The Enterprise is sent on a mission into space, where it is to explore other planets and galaxies and unknown forms of life.

Members of the original crew included Captain James Tiberius Kirk (William Shatner), first officer Mr. Spock (Leonard Nimoy), chief engineer "Scotty" Scott (James Doohan), helmsman Sulu (George Takei), communications officer Lieutenant Uhura (Nichelle Nichols), navigator Pavel Chekov (Walter Koenig) and the ship's surgeon Dr. Leonard "Bones" McCoy (DeForest Kelly).

"Star Trek" creator Gene Roddenberry (1921-1991) was ahead of his time and presented world views that were revolutionary for most people in the 1960s. Against the background of the race riots in the US, it was extremely brave to give a black actress the role of an officer, who also one of the main characters of the series.

He formed a diverse crew where nationalities and ethnicities did not matter. Roddenberry transported a worldview that was greeted both with enthusiasm and outrage at the same time.

The scandalous kiss

In the episode "Plato's Stepchildren" in 1968, Captain Kirk kissed the black officer Uhura. This was seen as scandalous and unacceptable in some Southern states and could not be aired.

On US television, this was the first kiss between a dark-skinned and a light-skinned person. Later, the actors said that they had to practice a lot for the scene: The lips of the two never really touched. To cover up that fact, the camera angles and shadows had to be perfectly aligned.

The leading trio of the Enterprise embodied three types of people: the man of action (Kirk), the reasonable one (Spock) and the emotional one ("Pill"). Roddenberry's character selection was supposed to describe a general phenomenon: Different people need each other to reach their goal.

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