Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country opened in theaters across the United States on December 6, 1991 -- or 25 years ago today. The film, directed once again by Nicholas Meyer, closed out the feature-film exploits of the original Enterprise crew. And it did so in classy fashion, with a timely, intriguing conspiracy/assassination story that allowed William Shatner, Leonard Nimoy, DeForest Kelley, Nichelle Nichols, James Doohan, George Takei and Walter Koenig to enjoy a final bow.
The politically charged storyline, which involved the Klingons, Vulcans and Federation, echoed the realities of the day, most specifically the Cold War, but perestroika as well. Rura Penthe is unmistakably a gulag. Spock even invokes a Vulcan proverb: “Only Nixon could go to China.” Kirk, meanwhile, considers his own deep-seated prejudices and the possibility of a universe sans an enemy against whom to wage war. Meyer, who’d directed The Wrath of Khan, reclaimed his seat on set and worked from a script that he co-wrote (with Denny Martin Flinn) based on an idea developed by Nimoy. Meyer capitalized on state-of-the-art visual effects technology, notably the CGI that enabled Martia (Iman) to morph and gave us the sight of Kirk vs. Kirk. Back then, the effect was only just starting to wow people who'd seen it put to use in the music video for Michael Jackson's song “Black or White” and in the film Terminator 2: Judgment Day.
Star Trek VI guest stars included David Warner as Klingon Chancellor Gorkon, Kim Cattrall as the duplicitous Lt. Valeris and Christopher Plummer as the Shakespeare-quoting General Chang. Notable grace notes included the sight of George Takei as Captain Sulu racing to assist the Enterprise and Captain Kirk, and appearances by Mark Lenard (as Sarek), John Schuck (reprising his Star Trek IV role as the Klingon Ambassador), Michael Dorn (as Colonel Worf) and Brock Peters (reprising his Star Trek IV role as Admiral Cartwright).
Star Trek VI is far from perfect, and Meyer himself recently called parts of it "naive" and shared his displeasure with the mind meld sequence between Spock and Valeris. The film as a whole is also a little slow and dated, plus many of the costumes worn by the original cast seem worn out, as if they were simply pulled off a hanger and dry cleaned rather than remade for the latest production.
So, to celebrate the 25th anniversary of The Undiscovered Country, StarTrek.com has assembled some facts, figures, thoughts and anecdotes about the film:
- One of our favorite lines: "If I were human I believe my response would be 'Go to hell.'... If I were human."
- Fuschia blood... or hot pink or purple... or... what color is that, actually? Whatever it was, it was a digital effect.
- Ponder this: Montgomery Scott, action hero.
- Does it get any better than Kirk against Kirk, going mano a mano? We think not.
- Uhura saves the day (“The thing must have a tailpipe.”) Tremendous moment for Nichols and the Uhura character, but, really? A tailpipe on a starship?
- Christian Slater’s a major Trek fan. Thus his cameo. Didn't hurt that his mom was the film's casting director.
- Another great line: “Must have been your lifelong ambition.”
- And another: “I’d give real money if he’d shut up.”
- And one more: "You have not experienced Shakespeare until you have read him in the original Klingon."
- Everyone recalls the Shakespeare references, but let's not forget the nods to Peter Pan and Sherlock Holmes.
- How spot-on and evocative was Cliff Eidelman's score?
- A vitally important snippet of dialogue: "Is it possible that we two, you and I, have grown so old and so inflexible that we have outlived our usefulness?"
- Did you cry, even just a little, at the cast’s farewell signatures during the end-credit sequence?
So, what are YOUR favorite memories of Star Trek VI? And how do you feel it holds up 25 years later?