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Film Review: Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country

Updated on December 21, 2016
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Background

In 1991, Nicholas Meyer released Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country, based on the 1966 television series Star Trek created by Gene Roddenberry, as the sixth film in the franchise. Starring William Shatner, Leonard Nimoy, DeForest Kelley, James Doohan, Walter Koenig, Nichelle NIchols, George Takei, Kim Cattrall, Christopher Plummer, David Warner, Rosanna DeSoto, and Iman, the film grossed $96.8 million at the box office.

Synopsis

After the Klingon’s infrastructure collapses, their leader makes a bid for peace. Though Kirk still doesn’t trust the Klingons, he is volunteered by Spock to escort the leader to the peace talks. However, Kirk doesn’t want peace and he is of similar mind to a conspiracy which means to drive both sides into full-scale war.

Review

Meant as a final bow for the cast of the original series, Star Trek IV: The Undiscovered Country grapples with the some pretty heavy ideas. The film brings on the idea of a future where humans and Klingons are able to coexist in peace, an idea that had never before been considered in the Trek universe. This is where the name The Undiscovered Country comes from as one of the Klingons bring up the Hamlet line during the dinner. No one knows where the dinner is ultimately going to lead except to the future, but no one knows what lies ahead in the future. The dinner could ultimately fail, or it could lead to historic species relations. The path they tread is literally undiscovered. There’s also the conversation Kirk and McCoy have while imprisoned, where Kirk thinks about the future and wonders if he really does have a place in it.

That scene is really where Kirk comes to realize that all the pain he’s kept bottled up regarding the Klingons has finally come to a head. Earlier in the film he exclaimed that they should all just die and how much he hates them because they killed David. In that scene though, he comes to realize that his prejudices are part of what’s holding the future back. Not only that, but his hatred is what’s helping the conspiracy carry out their plans. He might not have any knowledge of what’s going on, but his attitudes up until that point betrayed innocence of the plot. It’s only when he realizes that he needs to lay aside his grudge against an entire species because one of them killed his son does he understand that peace will truly be possible.

Kirk was also upset at the possibility of no longer being relevant. Spock actually asks him of they’ve grown so old that they’ve become inflexible and unwilling to bend to whatever flow the future might bring. Yet, as stated above, Kirk realizes the necessity to see that the future can change and there exists a need to be receptive to that.

Kirk wasn’t the only one that had an initially negative reaction to the possible peace between the Federation and Empire. Valeris and Chang seek to cling to their old ways because they are frightened of change. The two of them are almost exactly like Kirk at the beginning, except the latter isn’t trying to purposefully sabotage anything. Where the two paths diverge is that Kirk has his personal epiphany. The conspirators, on the other hand, are willing to commit as many war crimes as necessary to not only prevent peace, but dissolve the Neutral Zone and bring about total war. Chang even states that there will be no peace in his time as he believes peace is an attempt at appeasement.

The ending is also the perfect way for the film to go out. The Enterprise is set to be decommissioned. The crew’s time is finally up and Spock and Kirk’s lines reflect that while also showing they truly don’t want that to be so. The former wants to tell Starfleet to go to hell and the latter quotes Peter Pan as they take the Enterprise for one last run. On the other hand, this could also be construed as they’re demonstrating their usefulness is only as outlived as they believe it to be.

5 stars for Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country

the postings on this site are my own and don't necessarily represent WNI's positions, strategies or opinions.

Awards won

Academy of Science Fiction, Fantasy & Horror Films Saturn Awards

  • Best Science Fiction Film

Nominated for

Academy Awards

  • Best Effects, Sound Effects Editing
  • Best Makeup

Academy of Science Fiction, Fantasy & Horror Films Saturn Awards

  • Best Supporting Actress (Kim Cattrall)
  • Best Writing
  • Best Costumes
  • Best Make-Up

Hugo Awards

  • Best Dramatic Presentation


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