Everyone knows that Star Trek V: The Final Frontier is the story of what might have been. Rushed and released in the Summer of 1989, the film faced competition from Indiana Jones, Ghostbusters, another Lethal Weapon flick, and Batman. It grossed just $52 million, versus Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home’s haul of $109 million.
This was William Shatner’s turn at creating a Star Trek story. The previous two films, Search for Spock and The Voyage Home, were directed by Leonard Nimoy. Shatner admits that he ran out of funds at the end, and his planned grand finale — complete with rock monsters — was left on the drawing board. He just ran out of money. Interestingly, the hilarious Lower Decks animated show did give Shatner’s famous rock monsters some air time in the episode “Envoys.”
So fans are left with a film that is somewhat incomplete and unsatisfying. The film had its moments and certainly showcased the friendship of the TOS ‘trinity’ — Kirk, Spock, and McCoy (DeForest Kelley).
Just so you know, there is a movement by some fans for Paramount to give Shatner the funds to finish the film in the way he intended, much like how WarnerBros. allowed Zack Snyder to beef up and re-edit the Justice League film. These interested fans post on social media with the hashtag — #ReleaseTheShatnerCut. Shatner himself commented, saying that it was in the hands of Trek boss Alex Kurtzman.
But there was a particular scene in the film that divides fans to this day. Some rank it as one of the most embarrassing moments in Trek history, while others thought of it as a “joke.” This moment is Uhura’s fan dance, or as it is listed on YouTube, “Uhura’s Distraction.”
The way screenwriter David Loughery tells it, he, Shatner, producer Harv Bennet were trying to develop a way to distract Sybok’s army as they invaded the compound on Nimbus III.
“And really meaning it as a joke, I suggested, ‘Well, why don’t we put Uhura up at the top of the sand dune singing a song and doing a dance,’” Loughery said on The Journey: A Behind-The-Scenes documentary included with the Star Trek V blu-ray disc. “And they looked at me, and they said ‘that’s it — we’ll do it!’”
So, except for the ferns, actress Nichelle Nichols did perform the scene completely naked.
“Of course, I had a g-string on,” Nichols told StarTrek.com.
While Nichols is an accomplished singer and even serenaded Mr. Spock on the TOS episode “Charlie X,” it is not her voice singing on Star Trek V. It was vocalist Machun from the band Hiroshima.
Jerry Goldsmith, the great composer (who gave us the soundtrack for both Star Trek V and The Motion Picture), worked with Hiroshima band leader Dan Kuramoto to craft the song “The Moon’s a Window to Heaven.”
Kuramoto told StarTrek.com that he and the band “were huge fans of the TV series, and George Takei was a big supporter” of Hiroshima.
The song “The Moon’s a Window to Heaven” is unique for Trek, as most music for the franchise is created for orchestras, not vocal performance.
Interesting Side Note
Though Star Trek V is relegated as one of the “odds” for the Trek film franchise, there were some incredible moments. One of those was a budding relationship between Scotty (James Doohan) and Uhura.
They mentioned more than once how they would like to spend time together. It is a shame that nothing came of this, as there was no mention of their flirtation during 1991’s Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country. Nor did Scotty mention it in his appearance on The Next Generation’s 1992 episode “Relics.”
Perhaps, since screenwriter Kalinda Vazquez is now working on a fourth Star Trek film in the Kelvin timeline, we might see some sparks between Uhura (Zoe Saldana) and Scotty (Simon Pegg), especially if the same amount of time has passed in the story, as has passed since the last Kelvin Trek film hit theaters, which was in 2016. After all, Zachary Quinto’s Spock is sort of hard to get along with.