Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country is a 1991 American science fiction film directed by Nicholas Meyer.
It is the sixth feature film based on Star Trek, and a sequel to the 1966–1969 Star Trek television series.
Taking place after the events of Star Trek V: The Final Frontier, it is the last film featuring the entire cast of the original series.
After the destruction of the Klingon moon Praxis leads the Klingon Empire to pursue peace with their longtime adversary the Federation, the crew of the USS Enterprise must race against unseen conspirators with a militaristic agenda.
The starship USS Excelsior, commanded by Captain Hikaru Sulu, is struck by a shock wave, and discovers that Praxis, a Klingon moon, has been destroyed.
The loss of Praxis and the destruction of the Klingon homeworld’s ozone layer throws the Klingon Empire into turmoil. No longer able to maintain a hostile footing, the Klingons sue for peace with their longstanding enemy, the United Federation of Planets.
Accepting the proposal before the Klingons choose to revert to a more belligerent approach and die fighting, Starfleet sends the USS Enterprise-A to meet with the Klingon Chancellor, Gorkon, and escort him to negotiations on Earth.
Captain James T. Kirk, whose son David was murdered by Klingons, opposes the negotiations and resents the assignment.
Enterprise and Gorkon’s battlecruiser rendezvous and continue towards Earth, with the two command crews sharing a tense meal aboard Enterprise.
Later that night, Enterprise appears to fire torpedoes at the Klingon ship, disabling its artificial gravity. During the confusion, two figures wearing Starfleet spacesuits beam aboard the Klingon ship and grievously wound Gorkon before escaping.
Kirk surrenders to avoid armed conflict, and beams aboard the Klingon ship with Doctor Leonard McCoy to attempt to save Gorkon’s life. The chancellor dies, and Gorkon’s chief of staff, General Chang, arrests and tries Kirk and McCoy for his assassination.
The pair are found guilty and sentenced to life imprisonment on the frozen asteroid Rura Penthe. Gorkon’s daughter Azetbur becomes the new chancellor, and continues diplomatic negotiations; for reasons of security, the conference is relocated and the new location is kept secret.
While several senior Starfleet officers want to rescue Kirk and McCoy, the Federation President refuses to risk full-scale war. Azetbur likewise refuses to invade Federation space.
Kirk and McCoy arrive at the Rura Penthe mines and are befriended by a shapeshifter named Martia, who offers them an escape route; in reality, it is a ruse to make their arranged deaths appear accidental.
Once her betrayal is revealed, Martia transforms into Kirk’s double and fights him, but is killed by the prison guards to silence any witnesses.
Kirk and McCoy are beamed aboard Enterprise by Captain Spock, who had assumed command and undertaken an investigation in Kirk’s absence.
Determining that Enterprise did not fire the torpedoes but that the assassins are still aboard, the crew has begun a search for them. The two assassins are found dead, but Kirk and Spock trick their accomplice into believing they are still alive.
When the culprit arrives in sick bay to finish them off, Kirk and Spock discover that the killer is Spock’s protégé, Valeris.
To discover the identity of the conspirators, Spock initiates a forced mind-meld, and learns that a group of Federation, Klingon, and Romulan officers plotted to sabotage the peace talks.
The torpedoes that struck Gorkon’s cruiser came from Chang’s prototype Bird of Prey that can fire while cloaked.
Enterprise and Excelsior race to Khitomer, the location of the peace talks. Chang’s cloaked Bird of Prey attacks and inflicts heavy damage on both ships.
At the suggestion of Uhura, Spock and McCoy modify a torpedo to home in on the exhaust emissions of Chang’s vessel.
The torpedo impact reveals the Bird of Prey’s location, and Enterprise and Excelsior destroy the ship with a volley of torpedoes.
Crew from both ships beam to the conference and halt an attempt on the Federation President’s life.
Having saved the peace talks, Enterprise is ordered back to Earth by Starfleet Command to be decommissioned, but Kirk orders a course set for “the second star to the right, and straight on ’til morning”.
As Enterprise cruises towards a nearby star, Kirk records in his log that though this mission is the final cruise of Enterprise under his command, others will continue “to boldly go where no one has gone before”.
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- The sixth film in the series was initially planned as a prequel to the original series, with younger actors portraying the crew of the Enterprise while attending Starfleet Academy, but the idea was discarded because of negative reaction from the original cast and the fans.
- Faced with producing a new film in time for Star Trek’s 25th anniversary, Meyer, who previously directed Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan (1982), and Denny Martin Flinn wrote a script based on a suggestion from Leonard Nimoy about what would happen if “the Wall came down in space”, touching on the contemporary events of the Cold War.
- Principal photography took place between April and September 1991.
- The production budget was smaller than anticipated because of the critical and commercial disappointment of The Final Frontier.
- Because of a lack of sound stage space on the Paramount lot, many scenes were filmed around Hollywood.
- Meyer and cinematographer Hiro Narita aimed for a darker and more dramatic mood, subtly altering sets originally used for the television series Star Trek: The Next Generation.
- Producer Steven-Charles Jaffe led a second unit that filmed on an Alaskan glacier that stood in for a Klingon gulag. Cliff Eidelman produced the film’s score, which is intentionally darker than previous Star Trek offerings.
- Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country was released in North America on 06 December 1991, by Paramount Pictures.
- It garnered positive reviews, with publications praising the lighthearted acting and facetious references, and performed strongly at the box office.
- It posted the largest opening weekend gross of the series before going on to earn $96,888,996 worldwide.
- The film earned two Oscar nominations, for Best Makeup and Best Sound Effects, and is the only Star Trek movie to win the Saturn Award for Best Science Fiction Film.
- A special collectors’ edition DVD version of the film was released in 2004, to which Meyer made minor alterations.
- Star Trek creator Gene Roddenberry died shortly before the movie’s premiere, just days after viewing the film.
You can read interesting trivia and background details about the Star Trek franchise here.
Production & Filming Details
- Director(s): Nicholas Meyer.
- Producer(s): Ralph Winter and Steven-Charles Jaffe.
- Writer(s) (Screenplay): Nicholas Meyer nd Denny Martin Flinn.
- Writer(s) (Story): Leonard Nimoy, Lawrence Konner,and Mark Rosenthal.
- Music: Cliff Eidelman.
- Cinematography: Hiro Narita.
- Editor(s): Ronald Roose and Williams Hoy.
- Distributor(s): Paramount Pictures.
- Release Date: 06 December 1991.
- Running Time: 110 minutes.
- Country: US.
- Language: English.