Earthlings: Ugly Bags of Mostly Water

Earthlings DVD Cover
The movie Earthlings - Ugly Bags of Mostly Water is a documentary about the life of members of the Klingon Language Institute, partially recorded during the 10th qep'a' in 2003. The movie was directed by Alexandre O. Philippe and produced by Steve Williams. It's 70 minutes long(1). The movie had its international debut at the Cannes Film Market, May 12 - 23, 2004.

The name of the movie is based on an expression form Star Trek - The Motion Picture, where an alien race described people as "ugly bags of mostly water".


On August 1, 2003, 33 people celebrate the 10th qep'a'. The comical documentary, Earthlings: Ugly Bags of Mostly Water, captures the life, passions and quirks of the members of the Klingon Language Institute. Interviews of KLI members, i.e. linguists, psychologists, Star Trek fans and steadfast individualists, reveal the intellectual, fraternal, liberating and no-nonsense, direct qualities they enjoy within the constructed-from-pop-culture Klingon language. From Louise Whitty, who becomes fascinated with the language from her interest in Star Trek boots (and then fabricates and sells them) to a Paintball King who shouts strategic, military movements in the Klingon tongue, Earthlings examines the interplay between culture and language, communication and emotion, and the rather delicate line between reality and fiction.

Produced within a visually interesting and texture-filled, Sci-Fi style setting, Earthlings might be categorized as a Picture Show, a highly-stylized subjective documentary that emphasizes specific narrative strands and takes liberty with the tone, pacing and composition for comic effect. This is not a Trekkies (1994) imitator, but instead an entertaining view of an intellectual (and not-so-intellectual) endeavor to sort out and to explore humans and language, and the definitions of success and failure.


The director saw the Klingon Hamlet in a bookstore, and wanted to film it. He was persuaded or figured out that there wasn't an audience for that, but made contact with the KLI] and became interested in them. He came out to qep'a' with the intention of collecting a bit of footage to use to get backing for the project, but then went hog wild, working pretty much around the clock. The crew wasn't really that intrusive, none of the stuff you get from most crews where they're all "oh, the lighting wasn't right, can you redo that spontaneous moment that just happened?" They scheduled interviews with people. (2)

DVD menu

The DVD menue comes with a Klingon language menue, translated by Marc Okrand. It contains some typos.

De' le'
jabbI'ID ngaj
poj DevwI'
DevwI' yu'lu'
mayqel Dorn yu'lu'taH

Hol ghap
jabbI'ID yIHotlh
[']ay' yIwIv
De' le'

[']ay' yIwIv

From the Star Trek: Communicator #104, we know the spelling for Michael Dorn is mayqel Do'rIn.


An early cut of Earthlings, shown at Cannes, opened with several minutes of someone reciting Hamlet, zoomed in on his lips. Half the screening audience left before that sequence ended. (3)




(in alphabetical order)

See also


1 : website of Earthlings on

2 , 3 : Reported on Facebook on 10 Jan 2019 by Robyn Stewart

External links

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