For the Love of Spock (2016)
Adam Nimoy doesn’t paint a rosy picture of family life in his documentary about his father. The novelty of fame and popular acclaim soon wore off with it’s never ending photoshoots and long working hours that kept his father from ever being home. Yet among the anecdotes in this greatly condensed biopic there evidence of a lot of love and professional respect. Far from being comprehensive For the Love of Spock focuses on the matters that interest fans the most. So the documentary explores Nimoy’s relationship with Gene Roddenberry, his subsequent casting in Star Trek, his post Trek stage career and his return to the fold with the big screen movies.
Although the documentary references the autobiography I Am Not Spock, which explored Nimoy’s struggle with his own identify and his on screen persona, it is not especially thorough. The actor eventually wrote a second book titled, I Am Spock that revealed he’d reconciled both the man and the character, something the documentary is more interested in exploring. There is an allusion to conflict in later life between father and son, though the reasons for it are not elaborated on. Both struggled with substance abuse and Adam himself hints at the strain of being in his father’s formidable shadow. For the Love of Spock also acknowledges the existence of “The Ballad of Bilbo Baggins” but sees fit to delve no further.
Many stars of the original TV series are interviewed along the way, as well the astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson and the cast of J. J. Abrams’s cinematic reboot. Leonard’s profound contributions to Star Trek TOS are dissected such as the phrase “Live long and prosper”, its accompanying hand gesture and the iconic Vulcan nerve pinch. Time is also spent on Nimoy’s exploration of Spock ongoing battle with his half-human emotions and how he wanted the character to grow. Leonard’s stage career, as well as his film directing is also acknowledged. Time is also spent reflecting Nimoy’s dualistic relationship with Paramount studios and his legal battles with them.
For the Love of Spock treads a fairly even path through the career of one of the most iconic actors of the twentieth century. It does not shy away from the human flaws of both Nimoy senior and junior. One can’t help feeling that there is more to say but because the production is a family affair then it is natural that a degree of privacy is maintained. The documentary wisely ends on the immense legacy of Leornard Nimoy and the enduring nature of his alter ego Spock. There is a positive message in the final summation and it is handled with dignity and quiet reflection. In many ways these are the traits that make Nimoy and Spock so appealing.