Deja Vu III: The Klingon theme in Star Trek: The Motion Picture and Star Trek: First Contact

Star Trek: The Motion Picture has had a bad reputation for years, and some of it is rightfully deserved. The pacing is way off (compared to the later films), the acting is…less than ideal at some points, and the mysterious V’Ger is so large as to border on the absurd (in the original version, the size was given as being larger than our own solar system (80 AUs, it was later dubbed over to 8, which is still very massive).

But one component of the film that I will defend to the death is Jerry Goldsmith’s score. Goldsmith introduced musical themes that have remained with the series (at least in the prime universe) ever since. One such theme is the “Klingon theme” that is heard at the beginning of the film when three Klingon ships move in to attack the mysterious cloud passing through their territory. (The theme begins around 0:09 seconds, listen for the brass)

Star Trek: The Motion Picture “Klingon Battle”

This theme set the tone for the Klingons as they would now appear in the Star Trek film universe (this is also the first time we see “proper” Klingons with the distinctive ridges on their foreheads). Brass, horns and trumpets in particular, have long been associated with war and other martial endeavors (as that is where those instruments evolved) and by utilizing them, Goldsmith is reminding the listener that Klingons are a martial race, they always attack first, ask questions later.

Fast forward almost twenty years to 1996 and the events of Star Trek: First Contact. The Federation’s ultimate nemesis, the Borg, are making another attempt to conquer and assimilate the human race, and all resources are being pulled together to stop this menace. In the midst of the battle, we come across the Defiant (the starship from Deep Space 9) commanded by everyone’s favorite Klingon, Worf (Michael Dorn joined Deep Space 9 after Next Generation went off the air). No sooner does Worf pop up, and the music heard is definitely the same Klingon theme played in The Motion Picture back in 1979 (considerably sped up, but the same theme regardless). The theme begins around 2:25

Star Trek: First Contact “Klingon Theme”

I will always love how composers reuse musical themes from one film to the next (I also can’t believe it took me as many years as it did to catch this particular example). I’m so excited for the Movie Scientist Blogathon this weekend, it’s going to be great! -Bex

Also in the “Deja Vu” series:

Deja vu: Hearing the same melody in different films- Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan and Aliens

Deja vu II: Another look at Star Trek II and Aliens

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4 thoughts on “Deja Vu III: The Klingon theme in Star Trek: The Motion Picture and Star Trek: First Contact

  1. R Willson

    I know it’s painful, but you’re going to have to re-watch (or at least listen to) movie 5 (Final Frontier, 1989). JG’s 1979 Klingon theme was all over that movie (for the “Yuppie Klingons’ ” scenes), albeit with extra goose-honk brass effects.

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    1. Film Music Central Post author

      lol, i admit I had completely pushed that film from my mind, thank you for reminding me, I’ll re-edit this weekend to include it, because right now I’ve completely forgotten which scenes include it 🙂

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  2. Pingback: Deja vu: Hearing the same melody in different films- Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan and Aliens | Film Music Central

  3. Pingback: Deja vu II: Another look at Star Trek II and Aliens | Film Music Central

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