Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country Parent Guide
The best of the Star Trek films and a strong Cold War thriller in its own right.
Parent Movie Review
Recently promoted Captain Sulu (George Takei) is returning from a mission monitoring gaseous anomalies when his ship detects a massive explosion in the Neutral Zone between Klingon and Federation space: The Klingon energy-production moon of Praxis has experienced a critical malfunction, resulting in the complete destruction of the moon and the imminent collapse of the Klingon Empire. Seeing an opportunity for peace between the two warring powers, Chancellor Gorkon (David Warner) of the Klingon Empire extends an offer to meet and negotiate the new peace before the Empire crumbles on itself and chaos ensues. Despite his opposition to peace with the Klingons, Captain Kirk (William Shatner) is assigned to escort Gorkon to the peace talks - until the Chancellor’s ship is fired upon and Gorkon killed, seemingly by the Enterprise and some of her crew. Kirk and McCoy are arrested for the crime, and it is up to Spock to save them, discover the source of the torpedoes and assassins, and do so in time to salvage the peace accords.
This is far and away the strongest film in the Star Trek franchise with the original cast. Some of the Next Generation films come close, but nothing quite equals the absolutely fantastic fun of The Undiscovered Country. For a history nerd like me, hearing a Klingon prosecutor go full Adlai Stevenson and scream “Don’t wait for the translation, answer me now!” is more than enough to get my enthusiastic thumbs up. But that’s part of the genius of this movie: it isn’t just a Star Trek flick. It’s also one of the most engaging Cold War thrillers I’ve ever watched. I know that sounds like a lot, but for me, it stacks up favorably against films like The Hunt for Red October and Thirteen Days. The parallels between Gorkon and Gorbachev, Praxis and Chernobyl, and the end of the Cold War serve to make the film engaging on multiple levels. As General Chang (Christopher Plummer) says: “In space, all warriors are cold warriors.”
Another little bonus with this film, specifically for fans of the franchise, is spotting the re-used sets. Due to budget constraints following the abject failure of The Final Frontier, The Undiscovered Country had to use a lot of the sets which were already up for the TV show Star Trek: The Next Generation. The briefing room from the show becomes the dining room in the film, Counsellor Troi’s quarters become a kitchen, and my personal favorite - the bar Ten-Forward becomes the office of the President of the Federation - still with the swinging doors from its time as a lounge.
But my favorite part of the movie is always Christopher Plummer’s performance as General Chang, a deranged, Shakespeare-spouting Klingon with a diabolical plan. I’m actually surprised he even got paid to be in the film, since he seemed to be having entirely too much fun to be working. Ordering torpedoes fired while quoting “Julius Caesar”, spinning gleefully in his chair, and evilly stroking his goatee are brilliant touches that make him the most memorable villain in Star Trek.
This is a slightly less suitable film for younger kids than the others, owing to a moderately increased level of violence (with some blood) and the more politically complex plot. That being said, I watched this one growing up, and part of the fun is re-watching it every few years to see what I catch that I missed as a kid. My current favorite is Spock’s line: “An old Vulcan proverb: Only Nixon could go to China”. Trust me, you gotta watch this flick. Even if you’re not a Star Trek fan, even if you’ve never liked sci-fi, give it a shot. It’s hard to beat as a Cold War thriller, and impossible to beat for a Star Trek movie.Directed by Nicholas Meyer. Starring William Shatner, Leonard Nimoy, and DeForest Kelley.. Running time: 110 minutes. Updated June 7, 2020
Watch the trailer for Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country
Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country
Rating & Content Info
Why is Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country rated PG? Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country is rated PG by the MPAA
Violence: An individual is shown injured following an explosion. Four individuals are killed with a phaser, and a fifth has his arm shot off but survives. Some pink blood is shown floating in zero gravity, and later pooling on the floor. An individual is shown freezing to death. A fistfight occurs. A frozen body is seen. Another fistfight occurs. An individual is disintegrated. A ship is destroyed, killing all on board. An individual is shot with a phaser and falls out a window to his death.
Sexual Content: None.
Profanity: Occasional use of mild profanity and terms of deity.
Alcohol / Drug Use: Individuals are shown drinking Romulan Ale at a diplomatic function, and all come to regret it when they arrive at work later with splitting hangovers.
Page last updated June 7, 2020
Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country Parents' Guide
Kirk says “How on earth could history get past people like me?” What do you think he means by that? Do you think that, one day, you will also be resistant to change in the same way? What do you think you are learning from your experiences now that may change in the future?
Throughout the film, many characters quote various plays by William Shakespeare. Why do you think Shakespeare has remained as popular and significant as he has? Do you think that he will continue to be as significant going forward?
Related home video titles:
For a documentary about the collapse of the Soviet Union and the end of the Cold War, watch Meeting Gorbachev
Making peace with old enemies is challenging but possible. Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom and Invictus show how Nelson Mandela sought to bridge the chasm between the white South Africans who had imposed apartheid (racial segregation) and the black citizens they had oppressed. A young boy in Nazi Germany is a true believer in Hitler’s anti-Semitic, hate-filled propaganda until he meets a Jewish girl in Jojo Rabbit.
It can be difficult to forgive those who have harmed us. In The Railway Man, a British veteran has the opportunity to confront one of the Japanese soldiers who tormented him in a POW camp. An American soldier struggles with his experiences in a Japanese POW camp in Unbroken. He tries to heal from the physical and psychological scars of that experience in Unbroken: Path to Redemption.