To Be Takei

Year: 2014
Production Co: Dodgeville Films
Director: Jennifer M Kroot
Cast: George Takei

You wouldn't really expect any stories of hardship and struggle in a documentary about the life of the endlessly parodied helmsman of the starship Enterprise, but George Takei's life is more poignant than you imagine.

As a young Japanese American boy in the Second World War, his hard working parents were rounded up and shipped of to a prison camp after a decree by FDR that saw the same kind of ethnic hatred we'd see directed at Muslims over sixty years later after September 11.

The other struggle he faced were his realisation of being gay as a very young man, a secret he kept to all but a few very close family members and friends for most of his life. When he came out in 2005 after being with his partner for 18 years, it was in response to Arnold Schwarzenegger's veto of gay marriage in California, and Takei and his partner Brad have faced the same struggles for recognition as any gay couple in America since.

But throughout it all, you can imagine Takei kept the same stiff upper lip and poise he always has. He's never seen in the film any other way than neatly dressed, ready to joke and smile, and happy to sign an autograph or pose for a picture with the millionth hardcore nerd fan.

Where plenty of other actors whine and grumble about being defined by a single role (the film contains clips from other films he's been in, from Bruce Lee movies to the English voice dub of 1956 Toho classic Rodan) and can't even be bothered playing up to it for fans (we're looking at you, Harrison Ford), Takei seems like a class act.

It's a warm and lively tribute and if you're a particular fan of Takei it's essential, although there's enough about California history to make it interesting even if the geek love isn't for you.

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