Director Jannifer M. Kroot’s documentary, “To be Takei” is a beautifully put together kaleidoscope view of the life of “Star Trek” actor, George Takei. Witty, personable, gay rights activist, and actor, now 77, is still a beloved figure with over 7 million Facebook fans.
Takei is active in social media and uses his fan base to spread the message on gay rights. His life partner, Brad Takei (yes, he has taken on the Takei name) is efficient and highly organized, if somewhat controlling. Brad competently manages the business and their home (including taking care of George’s aged mother, till she died). He handles the details of his celebrity husband’s event-filled days. At public events, Brad collects money for the autographs that George signs, keeps the line moving, and keeps George stress-free, so George can focus on being personable to his fans.
Tracing his earlier life history, Takei talks about his childhood spent in a Japanese-American internment camp during World War II. “We were incarcerated simply because we looked like people who bombed Pearl Harbour and then we were put behind barbed wires; no charges, no trial”, he says. Takei blamed his father for not standing up for his family, against the Government. Ruefully he says, “my father was the kindest person on earth”, and internment ordeal to his parents was about “enduring with dignity, to have fortitude under the most trying circumstances”. Eventually, in his adult life, he has channeled his grief and regret into a musical “Allegiance”, about the internment camps and their effect on future generations.
The documentary does not center around “Star Trek” but there is some footage and some history is shared including some witty repartee between William Shatner (Captain Kirk) and George Takei. There is some antagonism between the two that has lasted throughout three seasons of the TV show, six movies, and five decades.
Jennifer Kroot and Editor, Bill Weber has beautifully put together the story of eclectic and vibrant, George Takei. Transitions between different periods of his life and about different parts of his life seem natural, the story keeps moving forward, and all the pieces eventually seem to be woven together into a beautiful tapestry of Takei’s life. On a scale of 1-5, with 5 being excellent, I rate it as 4.2 .