By Marc S. Sanders
I got the urge to watch Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country after seeing the compelling HBO miniseries Chernobyl. The Star Trek franchise succeeds best when it applies current and true-life events to its fictional future set in the 23rd century.
Like the USSR, the savage Klingon empire suffers a terrible accident at one of their most powerful energy planets, that spirals them into possibly having only fifty years of life left to survive. Therefore, Klingon Chancellor Gorkon (David Warner) reaches out to representing Ambassador Spock of Starfleet (Leonard Nimoy) to begin peace talks that will help prolong the alien race’s survival.
Captain Kirk (William Shatner) however, is not so keen on the idea, especially after he blames them for the murder of his son. It turns out many other factions are not enthused either, as Gorkon is assassinated and Kirk and McCoy (DeForrest Kelley) are sentenced to an ice like Siberian prison planet.
There’s much to think about in the original Star Trek cast’s final film together. Beyond the sentiments of the crew retiring and the Enterprise being put out to pasture so to speak, there’s an interesting story to ponder about how we map out the future for upcoming generations when we are still living with the past that we’ve grown accustomed to. It’s telling, considering much of the real-life events happening twenty-two years into our new century with historical statues being removed and minorities fighting for fairness among their communities.
As well, is one country or people too proud and always wanting to be at odds with another by relishing in being a super power? Can we think beyond that nature? I think that’s maybe where the curious title, The Undiscovered Country, stems from. We just haven’t seen the possibility that could be truly within our reach, if we all wanted it that way.
Christopher Plummer plays Klingon General Chang who vows revenge for the assassination. Plummer is spectacular; a villain not recognized enough on all of those on line top 10 lists of bad guys. Plummer brings his theatrical training to the role as he relies on Shakespearean quotes to take in the scene at hand. He’s at least as good as Ricardo Montalban’s Khan is remembered.
The crew is adored as usual. The supporting cast are given their fair share of lines and moments in the spotlight. Kim Cattrall joins as a Vulcan Federation Officer who’s helpful to uncover the true criminals at play.
Director Nicholas Meyer contributed to the best of the Star Trek films, and this is a perfect example of his strength within the franchise. The story was partly conceived by Nimoy with Meyer credited on the screenplay. Cold War politics really lend to this film. It’s interesting to see how the Klingons are initially in denial of assistance or the desperate problem they face which is similar to Russia’s response following the horrifying nuclear accident at their power plant in Chernobyl. I just love how the ideas within The Undiscovered Country parallel the world’s response and effects of what was happening just a few years prior to this film’s release, in 1986.
Never let it be said that movies can’t teach you anything.