Spock’s Body

In ST III: The Search for Spock, there’s an interesting battle between absence and presence, especially where Spock/Nimoy is concerned. Nimoy himself is pointedly absent from the film until the last ten minutes or so; though as the film’s director, he’s a constant, unseen presence who is guiding the audience’s gaze.

By contrast, “Spock” is present in much of the film in the form of his tortured boy-selves. The foregrounding of the Spock-lings underscores the absence of”our” Spock; that is, none of these actors are Nimoy, so none of these characters are Spock. As a reader, it feels to me that Nimoy is making a very deliberate choice here–as a director, he’s very conscious of the absence of his body in the film, and of the power that this deliberate withholding gives him over his audience.

When he does give us his body (so to speak), it’s done in a teasing way: having re-minded Spock walk past James and his other crewmmates at first (though the perspective of the camera tells us that it’s his snubbing of James that’s significant); then that pause on the stairs with his back to James and to us, surrounded by men in similar robes, of similar build; then a slow turn and a very careful removing of his hood–only then do we see “our” Spock again, only then do we (and James) possess his body once more. It’s a lovely, very carefully designed and well–executed sequence. It’s Spock’s body, and Nimoy knows how to use it.