Happy Feast of the Epiphany, everyone, or, as it's called in parts of Ireland, Little Christmas. It's the true last day of Christmas, unless you're in Russia, in which case it's Christmas Eve. Is it always Christmas somewhere in the galaxy? I don't know but maybe that's why I was in the mood to watch Star Trek II last night.
Usually I watch John Huston's adaptation of James Joyce's The Dead or I read the story itself. I may yet do that but I guess I was in the mood for something more life affirming this year. Star Trek II really is a movie about how you can experience the excitement of renewal and rebirth at any time, obviously with the Genesis device but more satisfyingly with Kirk's (William Shatner) story.
He starts the movie talking about how he feels old and worn out. McCoy (DeForest Kelley) disagrees, telling him he should get his command back--being captain of a starship is his "best destiny"--and the rest of the movie sort of proves him right. In fact, the movie notably shows Kirk making mistakes that cost lives which, in a way, is like being young again. You can always make mistakes because there's always more to learn.
Khan (Ricardo Montalban) presents the opposite--someone stuck in his past, unwaveringly in the pursuit of his goal. The collection on his bookshelf is a bit ironic:
Two copies of Paradise Lost (along with its sequel, Paradise Regained), Moby Dick, and King Lear. You'd think he'd have learned his lesson about stubbornly perusing vengeance. But maybe he psyched himself out.
More broadly, you could say the movie's about perception dictating one's behaviour. Which is not to say perception dictates reality--Kirk really is getting older and needs to wear glasses now--going "by the book" may make hours seem like days but the hours are still really hours. The key is in what one infers from the facts, how one chooses to adapt for them. Some adaptations are necessary, some aren't. How do we know how to see things? It's easier than we may think. Who in his right mind would give up command of the Enterprise?