Friday 25 March 2016

Star Trek – First Contact (Jonathan Frakes, USA, 1996)

Without doubt – one of the most beautiful camera moves in cinema history. Neither a dolly-out nor
zoom-out as such, but effectively both in (and possible only through) CGI – the camera pulls back from a black screen to reveal an eye. The eye becomes a face – Jean-Luc Picard, now captain of the Enterprise-E – and the face stares straight into the lens. As the camera continues on its reverse trajectory, the mise-en-scène reveals Picard is captured in a glass tube that is part of a spaceship, either side of him other beings, and behind each of them, many more. This section of the ship is but a fragment of an immense superstructure, the core or hub in an area so impossibly vast the camera never seems to encompass it. It is like a fractal – never-ending. Cut to corridor, the camera flies through the space, side to side, a disembodied spirit. Picard restrained on an operating table, his head encased in machinery. Picard in his tube – eyes close – he gasps. Picard with his face now augmented with Borg technology – merely an outward sign of his assimilation into the hive mind: ‘Locutus’ – comes a woman’s voice at the edge of consciousness. The image on screen distorts. ‘I am Locutus of Borg,’ whispers what was once-Picard, and turning to face the camera: ‘Resistance is futile’. A drill enters Picard’s eye.

Picard awakes from this dream-image. Director Jonathan Frakes, by zooming in on a sleeping Picard as he opens his eyes, signals this first moment of Star Trek – First Contact as a dream. As a nightmare. These are not memories, as such. Rather – they are perceptions, affections and actions subsumed within an unconscious state. For Deleuze, dream-images conjure up a ‘metamorphosis of the situation’ by linking dream situation to waking situation and so negotiating the latter through the former (C2:273). Accordingly, the dream-image of Star Trek – First Contact describes the sign of the rich dream...

To read the full exploration of Star Trek – First Contact through the Deleuze's sign of the 'rich dream,' see Deleuze's Cinema Books: Three Introductions to the Taxonomy of Images...

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