09 / THE DEATH OF SPOCK

STAR TREK II: THE WRATH OF KHAN (1982)

Empire (UK) - - CINEMAS -

The most tear-jerk­ing scene in sci-fi arose from ne­ces­sity: Leonard Ni­moy agreed to re­turn as Spock only if he died. But the re­sult­ing tragedy was the key­stone to Star Trek’s best film, and an emo­tional wal­lop that rein­vig­o­rated the fran­chise. It cer­tainly didn’t hurt that it fol­lowed a knuckle-bit­ingly tense bat­tle be­tween the En­ter­prise and the re­venge-fix­ated Khan (Ri­cardo Mon­tal­bán), and what made it hurt more was the fact it hit dur­ing what should have been a mo­ment of tri­umph. On rac­ing to Engi­neer­ing, Kirk (Wil­liam Shat­ner) finds his friend of 30 years dy­ing of ra­di­a­tion poi­son­ing af­ter sac­ri­fic­ing him­self to save them all. Shat­ner doesn’t of­ten get credit for his act­ing, but his per­for­mance as the pair slump on op­po­site sides of the safety glass is dev­as­tat­ing. While Ni­moy’s, “I have been — and al­ways shall be — your friend,” is more fa­mous, it’s Kirk’s choked, “No,” that pins the scene.

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