Star Trek into Darkness – a film analysis

Spock’s cold logic transforms into red emotion

Warning Spoilers!

Last night I went to see a late viewing of the newly released film, Star Trek into Darkness. It was a fun film that really captured the feel of the original series. After the screening I could not help but ponder on the one of the main themes of the film. The relationship between Spock and Kirk, a relationship that bridges logic and emotion and how this these opposites fuse together, or really in Spock’s case, becomes more emotional. The transformation of Spock from cold logic to heartfelt sympathy and rage can be seen throughout the film. Perhaps this could best be detailed in Aristotle’s rhetorical triangle. Image

As seen in the diagram, Logos meaning logic, the rationality side of Spock who uses his reasoning power to make good decisions. This is followed by Ethos, the trusting element of the relationship between Spock and Kirk, over the course of the film we see a development of tolerance and mutual respect for each other, with Spock slowly developing the ability to use Ethos to the gain of both Spock and Kirk. And finally Pathos, the emotional side to Spock that completes his transformation to becoming a more human Vulcan. The film sees Spock transform his reasoning power to embrace an emotional side that could not have been reached without the ability to establish a trusting bond with Kirk, and in a sense an ability to tell half truths that would otherwise have jeopardized his mission.



During the first scene we see Spock, a Vulcan, being lowered into a volcano. Vulcan is an ancient Roman God of fire and destruction, in nature and human environments. The fiery temper of the volcano, the pouring forth of emotional residual and lava and symbolic metaphors for the pent up emotion that Spock has within himself, the great irony is that he is capable of emotion but chooses not to embrace i it at times or show it. Spock detonates a cold fusion bomb that freezes the volcano and saves the native inhabitants of the plant from almost certain death. This scene is symbolic of Spock’s ability to use his cold logic to control his emotional outpourings. The element of freezing and warmth are a common feature of Star Trek into Darkness. With Kirk near the end of the film dying of radiation , he sweats and so does Spock’s heart prang with emotional responses. Kahn’s fellow species are preserved in a chamber of ice, and in a sense solid reasoning, literally stuck in their boxes, and in a sense close minded. My point is that the opening scene to the film is a mise en abyme, ‘a play within a play’ to use to use the Shakespearian term for it. Volcano, the Vulcan, transforms his use of emotion and is able to display it and feel it, and defuse it with his logical reasoning.


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