Quirky. Chaotic and fast paced! Chaos on the bridge tells the unique and interesting story about the making of Star Trek the Next Generation, and the transition of power between creator Gene Rodenberry and the studio executives.
There is the premise of the documentary in a nutshell. Shatner allows his audience to take a hard look at the chaotic reality of what really went on behind the camera during the first 3 seasons of TNG. It is also a hard look at the man, the myth, the legend of Gene Rodenberry. He is portrayed almost like a Roman emperor, climbing on his rise to power only then to have that power taken away from him by those beneath him. And believe me, this documentary does not hold back from painting the real picture of Rodenberry. From a mixture of interviews the idea of the man we thought as on par with George Lucas (Happy, talkative and fun) is portrayed almost as an arrogant, stereotypical and man who neglects to give away his power.
Chaos On The Bridge really does open you eyes about Rodenberry and also to how badly the direction of the first 3 seasons took. Actors let go, actors threatening to leave and of course a long list of writers fired because there unique and fresh ideas did not constitute as abiding by Gene Rodenberry’s vision of The Next Generation.
I will stop there with the details of the story so nothing is spoiled for you my fellow reader.
So to take a different approach lets talk about the technical aspects of this documentary, which is far from you normal layout, but gets across it’s information in a quick and concise way in order to tell this interesting story.
To describe it in it’s simplest form, the editing really does a great job in reflecting the story’s nature. Chaotic!! The pace of the editing is fast; rarely giving you room to take a breath. To put it simply, if you were to put on an episode of your favorite show and it starts off with a “Previously on…” that style of quick cutting is how this is pieced together. This style is drastically different from say Werner Herzog’s Grizzly Man, which is a much more slowly pace of editing. Cinema is an empathy machine; your tool to create that empathy in the editing is your pace. So long story short the way Chaos on the bridge is cut really helps convey the madness of what went on behind the scenes of TNG.
The interviews are laid out in your standard 3-point lighting style set up. The variation of locations for your backdrops really lends itself to the feel and nature that is star trek: The blue curtain backdrop (behind the scenes feel) a Nasa control room (that relation of space exploration) a courtyard at Paramount studios (the industry and location of where it all began)
Now though these locations may look minor in first viewing, subconsciously you make the connection and that makes the viewing even more enjoying to watch making you more engaging and open to the information that is being given to you.
Along with the interviews Chaos on the bridge intercuts with three other elements. Achieve footage, Parallax Images and cartoon caricatures.
The archive footage helps to drive the story foreword, showing snippets either from scenes from the show itself or from events relating to the production.
What is parallax imagery and why does it help move the story along? A parallax image is where the image has been split into two separate images within the same image. This can then give the illusion of the image being three dimensional while the camera moves around it, a similar technique to that of Forced Perspective which was used to create the illusion of the height difference of Hobbits in Peter Jackson’s Lord of the rings.
The third element is the use of cartoon caricatures. At first viewing they felt out of place, almost that they belonged in a media relating to marvel and not Star Trek. However they in fact help relay what is being told in the mix of interviews into a visual form. The idea that Hollywood and the relationships between producers and executives is all a big game of poker is more understandable with the caricature of Gene Rodenberry playing a round of Texas holdem.
All elements not matter how big or how small are all creative, and that is the most important part of story telling.
Here is where Chaos on the bridge like its subject matter both rises and falls.
The main issue with the sound is from the music. It seems to be playing all the time all the way through the 60-minute documentary. This is all well and good as it helps to convey the interest to the audience, but when watching a series of interviews cut together in a fast pace with music blaring over it, it can be hard to concentrate on what is actually being said. The resolution to this is to simply turn the music down in the mix or to vary the soundtrack by having parts of the 60 minutes just focused on what is being said without the use of music.
The redeeming factor however is that the whole of Chaos of the bridge has a very western feel to it. The music used through out has a very western vibe which when cut with the style of fast paced editing and the unique caricatures gives the feel of a western stand off, which if you take into consideration that Gene Rodenberry was hesitant to give up his power to producers and writers of the studio, fits rather nicely into the artistic look and feel that William Shatner has designed his documentary around.
Chaos on the bridge gets a solid 5 out of 5 for being artistically creative and for keeping you engaged throughout on the interesting story behind Star Trek: The Next Generation
Disclaimer:All scores given within our reviews are based on the artist’s personal opinion; this should in no way impede your decision to purchase the game.