Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country (Paramount Pictures, 1991; see also 1991 in film) is the sixth feature film based on the popular Star Trek science fiction television series. It is often referred to as ST6:TUC or TUC. It is the last of the films based solely on the original series cast and presents their final mission together.
The Klingon economy is thrown into turmoil after the explosion of Praxis, a key Klingon energy production facility. The Klingon Empire sues for peace with the Federation. Starfleet chooses to send the Enterprise to meet with the Chancellor Gorkon (David Warner) to open negotiations, a decision that doesn't sit well with Captain Kirk (William Shatner).
During the negotiations, Chancellor Gorkon is assassinated. Captain Kirk and Dr. McCoy are accused of the crime and taken to Qo'noS for trial while Gorkon's daughter, Azetbur, becomes the new chancellor. Captain Spock and the rest of the Enterprise crew must rescue them, find the real murderer, and save the peace process from collapse.
TUC is an allegory for the fall of communism in eastern Europe circa 1990. The Federation and Klingons have been engaged in a cold war for decades (since the episode "Errand of Mercy" in the original TV series) and some players on both sides are reluctant to see the situation change.
TUC shares a theme of rising above one's own prejudices, needs or desires with the earlier films, as Kirk must put aside his dislike of the Klingons and become the warrior who fights for peace. This role is easier for Spock, whose people's culture is essentially peaceful. However, Kirk's character seems too darkly drawn, as he's spent much of his career working for peaceful and moderate solutions to the problems he encounters. Some critics complain this undercuts some of the film's drama while others counter that considering he lost his son to Klingons in a previous film, his suppressed hate for them is emotionally reasonable and his conquering of it gives an additional dramatic weight to the story.
The film's dialog contains an enormous number of historical and cultural references, including many lines of Shakespeare. See References in Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country.
The film was directed by Nicholas Meyer, who also directed Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, and is considered by many to be a return to the movie series' previous form, in the wake of its widely-disliked predecessor, Star Trek V: The Final Frontier. Reportedly, The Undiscovered Country was a working title for TWOK.
The film is also a sort of prologue to Star Trek: The Next Generation, in which the Klingons and Federation are allies. Michael Dorn, who plays Lt. Worf in TNG, plays Worf's grandfather Colonel Worf in this film. Colonel Worf is a lawyer who defends Kirk and McCoy in court.
Supposedly, the character of Valeris (Kim Cattrall) was originally supposed to be that of Saavik (played by Kirstie Alley in The Wrath of Khan), but this was changed for several reasons: Alley was unavailable, Cattrall was not interested in being the third actress to play Saavik, and fans had not cared for Robin Curtis' portrayal of the character in Star Trek III: The Search For Spock. Moreover, Gene Roddenberry had requested the removal of Saavik as he thought she was too well liked to be turned "evil" (this was an indication of the power Roddenberry had come to wield in the Trek universe by this time, since his involvement with the Saavik character had previously been nonexistent).
According to reference works such as the Star Trek Chronology, Roddenberry stated before his death that he considered elements of this film to be apocryphal. (See Canon (fiction).) Exactly what he objected to has never been confirmed, though it is believed that it might have something to do with the subplot involving the assassination attempt on the Federation president.
The character of Colonel West, the Starfleet Marine officer who conducts the Operation Retrieve briefing, was intended as an in-joke reference to a real Marine - Oliver North ("West", "North"). Colonel West only appears in the extended home video (and DVD) version of the film, not in the original theatrical cut, and is played by the same actor (Rene Auberjonois) who would later assay the role of Odo in Star Trek: Deep Space Nine.
One of the film's funniest scenes occurs when a Klingon claims that one has never heard Hamlet until it's been heard in the original Klingon language. A few years later, linguists actually published The Klingon Hamlet, a translation of the famous play.
- Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country (http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0102975/) at the Internet Movie Database
- "Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country (http://www.memory-alpha.org/en/index.php/Star_Trek_VI:_The_Undiscovered_Country)" article at Memory Alpha, a Star Trek wiki