After Star Trek V: The Final Frontier went FLOP at the box office, it was very nearly the end of the Star Trek films. But the studio managed to persevere and plans were laid to make a sixth film. Initially, Star Trek VI was going to be a prequel, featuring Kirk and co. at the Academy (which later became the basic plot of Star Trek (2009)), but that was scrapped in favor of a final adventure with the original Enterprise crew.
Now when it came to scoring Star Trek VI, director Nicholas Meyer had some trouble finding a composer. Jerry Goldsmith was so disappointed after Star Trek V that he currently wanted nothing to do with the project. James Horner felt that his career had advanced beyond Star Trek, so he declined as well. With no other alternatives, Meyer looked to a pile of demo tapes sent in by other composers wishing to work on the project and he ultimately selected a tape sent in by composer Cliff Eidelman, as he felt his music best captured the “spirit of Star Trek”.
Eidelman’s music is a big part of why I love The Undiscovered Country so much. It’s dark, occasionally eerie, and chock full of tension at all the right moments. And the main theme is a perfect introduction to this score. The music plays over the opening credits before the story proper begins and instantly lets you know that this isn’t like the other Star Trek films. Jerry Goldsmith’s bright fanfare is absent, Horner’s beautiful strings aren’t there. What we have instead is a dark motif that will recur throughout the film.
As the credits move on towards the end, the music becomes more and more tense, and it will later come out that what we are hearing is the music from the final battle between Captain Kirk and General Chang. The tension builds higher and higher, until finally the music ends on almost a literal cliffhanger, as the music cuts off just before a huge explosion fills the screen (talk about starting a story off with a bang!)
I really enjoy the main theme of Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country, it is an underrated gem in the musical canon of Star Trek. I hope you enjoy listening to this theme as well.
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