Tag Archives: Cliff Eidelman

Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country “Main Theme” (1991)

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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.

Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country “Main Theme” (1991)

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”.

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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.

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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.

See also: Film Soundtracks A-W

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See also:

A Tale of Two Spocks: Spock’s Theme in Wrath of Khan and The Undiscovered Country

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A Tale of Two Spocks: Spock’s Theme in Wrath of Khan and The Undiscovered Country

*the links in this post contain affiliate links and I will receive a small commission if you make a purchase after clicking on my link.

Whenever a film franchise is fortunate enough to grow into a large series, it is very rare that each of the films can be scored by the same composer (Star Wars being a happy exception). Because most film franchises (i.e. James Bond, Mission Impossible, Star Trek) change film composers frequently, it is common for themes to differ from one film to the next. For example, if you listen to the themes of Mission Impossible and Mission Impossible 2, you would notice a huge difference in terms of style.

Occasionally though, themes created by different composers for the same character can sound very similar. In this case, I draw your attention to a set of themes, each created for the character of Spock from the original Star Trek series. The first theme was created by James Horner for Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan in 1982.

The music begins with a soft glass-edged melody that gently drops down into the secondary theme (plucked out by the harp). This melody is a perfect characterization of Spock: he is Kirk’s rock, the perfect voice of reason. Kirk cannot conceive of a world where Spock is not by his side (which makes the ending of the film all the more upsetting).

The second theme was composed by Cliff Eidelman for Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country. I apologize if the quality of sound isn’t as good, I’m still looking for an audio-only clip of this theme and when I find it I will post it here. At any rate, listen to the theme below and note how similar it is to Horner’s theme (I find both to be exceptionally beautiful).

Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country “Spock and Valeris”

In fact, the two themes are so complementary to one another, that one wonders if Eidelman took direct inspiration from Horner’s theme when he put this score together (it’s no secret that they wanted James Horner to compose Star Trek VI, perhaps Eidelman was instructed to imitate Horner’s style. Of course it could just all be a coincidence, but i love to speculate on these things).

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