By John Reeves (cry0genic)
Last month, Section31.com brought to you the first in a two-part exclusive - What Wasn’t Made So: Part 1, an article that featured extensive descriptions and still images of footage removed from Star Trek: Generations. Shortly after the release of the article, it became clear that the footage we had reported on was not the only footage Generations had been deprived of, nor had it gone unseen by all of our readers. It is for this very reason that the addendum you are now reading exists, and that we are able to provide the Star Trek community with something that to many, is unique.
Just days after the article’s publication, Section 31 webmaster Tim Hansen was contacted by Sean Stephenson, a fellow webmaster (owner of LCARScom.net). Not only did Sean claim to have seen the cut footage, but that he could provide Tim with the means to see it also. Intrigued by the proposal, Tim gladly accepted Sean’s offer and soon found himself the owner of an incredibly rare (albeit, poor quality) videotape. Held within the tape was something few people had ever seen - an early cut of Star Trek: Generations, complete with numerous scenes that had later been either partially or completely removed from the movie prior to its release.
When Part 1 of the article was originally created, we were unable to provide any video footage - but now, all that has changed. Six and a half years after the film’s original theatrical release, and for the first time ever, Section31.com and the LCARSCom.Net is proud to present the cut footage of Star Trek: Generations! Included within this special addendum to Part 1 is a total of 27 individual video clips, spanning over 200Mb of data and comprising 19 distinct pieces of cut footage.
At long last, you have the chance to see the unseen and can now decide for yourself on whether or not the decisions made to remove the footage were justified! In many cases, we’d say that they were. Much of the footage on offer is fairly trivial at best and it is clear that those who edited Generations did a fine job. Nevertheless, we stand by our original call for at least some of the deleted footage to be placed onto DVD. After downloading the clips, we hope you’ll agree that the footage worth being given the proper digital treatment is Kirk’s Orbital Skydive (gencuts-1), Geordi’s full-length torture (gencuts-8) and the notorious alternate ending (gencuts-17). Fittingly, these three pieces of cut footage are ideal for inclusion on DVD because they cover the full spread of the film. The orbital skydiving occurs at the very beginning, Geordi’s interrogation is roughly in the middle, and of course, the ending, is well, at the end.
Paramount’s Star Trek DVDs contain film transfers of truly exceptional picture and sound quality; how wonderful it would be were the discs to be complemented with cut footage too. Valuable material cut from Generations need not be interposed with the original film - as a matter of fact, it would be far better suited to a ‘Special Feature’ all of its own. This would totally circumvent any disruption to the existing version of the film and would allow each cut segment to be accompanied with its own commentary, relaying to the viewer exactly why it was removed in the first place.
A great opportunity presents itself for extensive discussion with the alternate endings. Lengthy comparisons could be drawn between the two, elaborate production notes could tell of how the improvements for the revised ending were conceived, and insight could be offered into how the many technical challenges that arose during hurried filming were overcome. In short, the two finales are crying out for attention, and commentary of some sort (particularly, audio-based) would fit the bill nicely. Annotations could also be provided for the Orbital Skydiving and Geordi’s torture footage, albeit in a less copious manner.
We must, in this paragraph, pass a few words your way as to the quality of the video you are about to watch. Almost every defect imaginable was present in both the picture and sound of the VHS tape used to produce the following clips. Despite the high levels of digital manipulation computer users now wield, they cannot perform miracles. Likewise, there was only so much that we could do to enhance video material originating from a tape of such poor quality. Please bare this in mind at all times when watching the clips we have available. It will help to explain many things, such as why the uniform tops of Starfleet officers often appear gray and not red, blue or yellow; why certain scenes are so dark you can see virtually nothing, and why the heads of many characters periodically flicker around the screen (amongst many other things).
Also serving, to a lesser extent, to detract from the cinematic feel of the video is the actual content. The footage is marked "6-22-94", at which point, visual effects had yet to be generated, music had yet to be scored, and sound effects, if present at all, were only makeshift. In one sense, the sheer rawness of the video makes it quite alluring, yet in many other ways, it serves only to hamper your enjoyment of the film, and easily clouds your judgment as to the value of the footage that you are watching. But in spite of all of this, we stuck rigidly to the adage "something is better than nothing", and that is why we are offering what we are.