The original Trek crew’s real last hurrah, Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country is a rousing sendoff for Kirk, Spock, and Bones, and a fitting transition from the original series’ Cold-War milieu to the Next-Generation age of engagement.
The Soviet Union was collapsing as production began on the film, in which for the first time Federation leaders, notably Spock (Leonard Nimoy) are beginning to look at the Klingon Empire as something other than a threat and an enemy. A Chernobyl-like catastrophe on a Klingon moon, a Gorbachev-like Klingon chancellor, and a Gulag-like prison planet are among real-world parallels.
Old-guard Federation hard-liner Kirk (William Shatner) is stunned when Spock nominates him to lead the envoy to the Klingons, but Spock explains in a surreal line: "There is an old Vulcan expression: Only Nixon can go to China." (Similarly, in a line echoing Cold-War cultural posturing, Chancellor Gorkon remarks after quoting Shakespeare that the Bard is best appreciated "in the original Klingon"!)
Not everyone wants peace, of course — Christopher Plummer is great as a warlike Klingon general — and unexpected violence brings dire political repercussions. Steps toward peace are taken, yet as Filmcritic.com writer David Bezanson notes, "pacifism doesn’t carry the day — the peace is born out of necessity and forged by warriors."
Copyright © 2000– Steven D. Greydanus. All rights reserved.