This past weekend (Sept 25th to be exact) I went to a special movie theater showing Star Trek II – The Wrath of Khan. As soon as you read the title I have the feeling you already hear in your head Kirk yelling “KHANNNNNNNN!!”.
Are you also hearing in your head the music that played along with it? How about the fact that it is heard as an echo? Khan’s sigh after that moment as he listens to Kirk’s yell?
Although I love going to the movie for the all-encompassing screen, the movie theater is designed as a full sensory experience. Sound plays just as important of a role in the power of a movie as the visuals. And in the theater, you are surrounded by speakers. You are seeing the story in front of you but you are enveloped in the sound from every angle.
Let’s go to that yell to see what I mean. A reminder, Kirk has grabbed a communicator and is yelling at Khan in the communicator, but he is in a true sense Kirk is yelling from the cave that he is trapped in.
The yell of “Khaaaaan” is only the first yell that is heard, the music surge briefly and then an eerie echo of that yell is heard as the shot returns to space above the dead planet. Sound plays out the desperation of Kirk to an audience.
Yes, we saw his face, but only for the build up to that dramatic moment. It is from the sound of that cry fading into the nothing of space and the moment of music that punctuates the yell. The scene ends with Khan’s own moment of melancholy as he reacts not to Kirk’s face, but to the sound of Kirk’s voice that seals the moment of victory.
So, unlike the painful wail of grief given by Zachary Quinto’s version of Spock – a twist on this well-known event – Kirk was addressing Khan himself, his yell unanswered literally falls on deaf ears.
The moment holds as the music fades, the audience wonders the fate of our heroes. And the moment lives on in cinema history because of the sound of one word – Khan!
Here below – for comparison to your memory – is that very moment.