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Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country
Album Cover Art
1991 MCA
2005 Bootleg
Album 2 Cover Art
2012 Intrada
Album 3 Cover Art
Composed, Conducted, and Produced by:

Orchestrated by:
Mark McKenzie
William Kidd
Labels Icon
MCA Records
(December 10th, 1991)


Intrada Records
(February 28th, 2012)
Availability Icon
The MCA album is a regular U.S. release, but it fell out of print and commanded more than $40 at its height. The bootlegs, first leaked in their nearly-complete form in 2005, all contain roughly the same material and are only available on the collector's market. The expanded 2012 Intrada album is a regular commercial release of unlimited quantities, initially selling for $25.
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Decorative Nonsense
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   Availability | Viewer Ratings | Comments | Audio & Track Listings | Notes
Buy it... if you're tired of the formulaic habits of the scores in the Star Trek film franchise and seek a truly unique, melodramatic sound that perfectly matches the menacing tone and excellent pacing of the film's narrative.

Avoid it... on the original commercial album if you desire the roughly fifteen minutes of material in the film and its trailer that was omitted from that product, some of which quite noteworthy for enthusiasts of Cliff Eidelman's intriguingly intelligent score.
Review Icon
WRITTEN 12/13/96, REVISED 3/20/12
Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country: (Cliff Eidelman) The final installment starring the original "Star Trek" crew represented the pinnacle for the series of feature films following the adventures of the U.S.S. Enterprise. With the franchise reborn on television and the fate of the films in serious doubt (after the horrendous fifth film in 1989), director Nicholas Meyer, who had been responsible for the success of Star Trek II: Wrath of Khan in 1982 (and, to a lesser extent, Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home in 1986), returned to the series to coordinate one final, grand exit. His concern was that the series had repeated too many of the same cliches and motifs over the previous few entries, causing audiences to lose interest in a franchise that was essentially beating a dead horse. The plot of Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country is a refreshing display of everything that makes a science fiction film great: a poetic story, a rousing villain, a frightening new technology, and a crew of heroes fighting as underdogs because of their aging status during the dawn of a bright new future. Meyer decided that the film should be an ominous tale of betrayal, death, capture, ancient hatred, cloaked deception, and, of course, destruction on a planetary scale. Because these elements deviated from the more light-hearted and "formula-bound" films previously made, he decided to make a dramatic deviation in regards to the film's score. With franchise veterans Jerry Goldsmith and James Horner by then too expensive for Paramount's strict budget, Meyer opted to use a more classical approach: Gustav Holst's "The Planets" suite. The licensing fees for this music, though, proved extraordinary on the level that was required to manipulate the suite for use in an entire feature film. Disgruntled by the price, Meyer returned to the idea of using a regular composer for the job. Despite Goldsmith's success with the previous film (perhaps the only positive part of that production), Meyer insisted on a fresh new sound for Star Trek VI. He maintained that the success of the franchise depended on its own reinvention for each entry, and that philosophy carried over directly to the music. He wasn't afraid of giving a young, new composer a chance; after all, this was the same man who handed the little-known upstart named James Horner the opportunity to score Star Trek II. Having rejected demo tapes from many possible composers, Meyer discovered Cliff Eidelman.

More than any other prospective composer for the task, Eidelman had captured the darker essence that the film needed, and before he had even been hired for the position, he produced a synthesized demo of the main title sequence. With the blessing of producer Leonard Nimoy, who initially suggested a return of Leonard Rosenman to the franchise despite still being criticized for his handling of the score for Star Trek IV, the excited Eidelman was given the job. The young composer, recently graduated from school and with only a couple of impressive scores for arthouse films under his belt, impressed Meyer with his ability to not only imply the aforementioned Holst material and use Stravinsky's "Firebird" as requested inspiration for the conspiracy theme in the film, but also exercise smart judgment on how to work his four major themes (along with a few carry-overs from previous scores) into subtle rhythmic and fragmentary statements throughout the film. There is no doubt that Star Trek VI is darker than all of its predecessors, with the vast majority of it rooted in the minor key and the darker themes dominating the film's "Overture." The lower ranges of the string section are the main attraction in the score, along with brooding brass tones, an excess of militaristic percussion, and a deep male chorus. Exotic percussion is applied sparingly, mostly for the penal colony scenes. The choral sound used to accentuate the warrior Klingon race is a natural and intriguing method of enhancing their masculinity while inserting some deeply rooted mystery into their intentions. There does exist some major key fanfare in Star Trek VI, restrained to the two positive themes in the film, but after a brief statement of this enthusiasm in the mandatory "Enterprise leaves dock" scene (some parts of the franchise simply have to be repeated, for the sake of nostalgia and awesome visual effects), the upbeat, major-key statements are mostly limited to the final minutes of the story. While it is no surprise that Meyer and Eidelman dumped all of Goldsmith's themes for the franchise (dropping the Courage fanfare was simply not possible, and it's used twice here), the most interesting aspect of the Star Trek VI score is Eidelman's reference of one of Horner's themes from Star Trek II and Star Trek III: The Search for Spock. With the concept of Vulcan integrity playing an important role in the conspiracy of this film, hearing a close cousin of Horner's Vulcan theme in this context is nothing less than intriguing.

For the purposes of this review, the track titles and times referenced hereafter will refer to the complete score (as released officially by Intrada Records in 2012), which doesn't suffer from the necessary, severe edits chosen by Eidelman when reducing the work for the maximum allotted re-use budget for MCA's original commercial album. Eidelman's four major new themes accompany the two favorites from the past. Two of the four are intensely dramatic in their sense of doom, either serving to foreshadow a destiny of war or suggest imminent peril. No theme in the history of the franchise has been as effective at this task as the conspiracy theme. Often mislabeled as a straight representation of the Klingons in Star Trek VI, the conspiracy theme actually applies to the larger political implications of what the film's tagline described as "the battle for peace." It uses a repeating six-note progression on low strings that follows the plot to undermine the peace process between the Federation and Klingon Empire. The opening three notes of this progression inform other suspenseful figures in the score as well, a malleable tool of dread in several circumstances. By association, the full six-note figure also represents General Chang (Christopher Plummer) and his newly enhanced "bird of prey" that can launch torpedoes while cloaked. More interesting about this theme is the revelation that the rhythm is only half of its functional whole. On top of this rolling rhythm is the actual theme, ascending in progression as if to balance the tumultuous forces of evil with an expression of hope. The fact that this dual theme is the surprising opening act of the "Overture" is what immediately establishes Star Trek VI as an atypical film in the franchise, the simmering demeanor significantly reducing the fanfare atmosphere of previous entries. As the theme's rhythm gains steam, it is joined by pulsating brass, tapping snare, and chorus, with each bar of the theme adding another section of the orchestra until the intensity bursts with the kind of power necessary to clearly set the stakes. This theme returns again at 2:00 into "Arrival of Kronos One," as a (delightfully old-fashioned) Klingon battle cruiser arrives to rendezvous with the Enterprise and accompany it to the peace conference. It conveys a stronger sense of dread as the plot to undermine the peace process is executed at 1:10 into "Assassinations" and the battle cruiser threatens to retaliate at 1:00 into "Surrender for Peace." As the plan to be rid of Captain Kirk reaches fruition in "The Trial," the conspiracy theme, with pulsating brass, opens the cue.

As the film shifts into its final battle sequence, the sight of the bird of prey cloaking to lie in wait is treated with a continuation of the conspiracy theme, heard at the outset of "The Battle for Peace (Part I)." As General Chang blows holes through the hull of the Enterprise, the theme reaches celebratory, orgasmic heights, transferred finally from strings to brass (in unison) at 3:00 into "The Battle for Peace (Part I)" and at 0:45 and 1:25 into "The Battle for Peace (Part II)" (otherwise known as "The Final Chance for Peace"). The theme's last gasp is heard with tapping snare at 0:30 into "The Battle for Peace (Part III)" ("The Final Count"), punctuated at its start by a single toll of a chime. The theme reprises an abbreviated version of its "Overture" format at 3:15 into "End Credits," though this sequence was awkwardly removed from the film version of the cue. Less obvious in the larger picture is the actual, far more specific Klingon theme that Eidelman provides for Star Trek VI. Abandoning the percussive rhythms, prideful fifth interval progressions, exotic whole tones, and harsh brass style of the themes that James Horner and Jerry Goldsmith had written for the species, Eidelman provides them with a more sinister, but surprisingly desperate identity. Like the conspiracy theme, the Klingon theme uses an underlying rhythm of forceful determination to strengthen an otherwise heroic tonal progression over the top. As the story progresses and the distrust of the Klingons inherent in Captain Kirk and the audience is played upon by the script, the theme's darker, rhythmic half is heard more often in fragmentary statements. A frantic rendition of the theme is introduced at 2:10 into the "Overture," and a solo brass version helps easily identify the idea at 0:20 into "Guess Who's Coming." The "Surrender for Peace" cue uses the theme several times, starting at the 0:20 mark and becoming forceful in the cue's concluding 30 seconds. The electronically aided use of the theme at 4:30 into "Escape from Rura Penthe" reminds of the inevitable pursuers. A reprise of the full onslaught of the "Overture" performance exists in "The Battle for Peace (Part I)" at 2:25. The rhythm becomes split into partial performances throughout the remainder of the final battle cues. One last major statement follows suit at 5:10 into "End Credits." Compared to the conspiracy theme, the identity for the Klingons is frequently applied by Eidelman in the role of an action sub-motif, which is why it's often undiscovered during casual browsing of the score's contents, but its intent seems far more focused on the Klingon race than any other idea in the score.

Ratings Icon
Average: 4.15 Stars
***** 1,892 5 Stars
**** 829 4 Stars
*** 374 3 Stars
** 205 2 Stars
* 193 1 Stars
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Alternative review at
Southall - March 17, 2012, at 1:15 p.m.
1 comment  (1505 views)
Star Trek VI Trailer   Expand >>
Evan - August 20, 2006, at 5:57 p.m.
4 comments  (7294 views)
Newest: July 24, 2009, at 12:08 p.m. by
One of the best dark and haunting scores I have ever heard
Sheridan - August 18, 2006, at 10:05 a.m.
1 comment  (3782 views)
Well, ahh, I don't know   Expand >>
Pizza - July 10, 2003, at 4:02 a.m.
2 comments  (4974 views)
Newest: August 11, 2003, at 1:35 p.m. by
ST6 - February 4, 2003, at 12:19 a.m.
1 comment  (2777 views)
Itīs not the best "Star Trek"-Score !!!   Expand >>
DiBo - December 13, 2002, at 2:10 a.m.
4 comments  (8171 views)
Newest: November 2, 2003, at 11:59 a.m. by

Track Listings Icon
Audio Samples   ▼
1991 MCA Album Tracks   ▼Total Time: 45:16
• 1. Overture (2:57)
• 2. An Incident (0:53)
• 3. Clear All Moorings (1:39)
• 4. Assassination (4:45)
• 5. Surrender for Peace (2:46)
• 6. Death of Gorkon (1:10)
• 7. Rura Penthe (4:22)
• 8. Revealed (2:38)
• 9. Escape from Rura Penthe (4:22)
• 10. Dining on Ashes (1:00)
• 11. The Battle for Peace (8:03)
• 12. Sign Off (3:13)
• 13. Star Trek VI Suite/End Credits (6:18)
2005 Bootleg Tracks   ▼Total Time: 69:05
2012 Intrada Album Tracks   ▼Total Time: 112:31

Notes Icon
The 1991 MCA album's insert includes a note from the director about the score. The bootlegs feature no uniform packaging. The insert of the 2012 Intrada album contains extensive information about the film and score, including the note from the director featured with the 1991 album.
Copyright © 1996-2021, Filmtracks Publications. All rights reserved.
The reviews and other textual content contained on the site may not be published, broadcast, rewritten
or redistributed without the prior written authority of Christian Clemmensen at Filmtracks Publications. All artwork and sound clips from Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country are Copyright © 1991, 2005, 2012, MCA Records, Bootleg, Intrada Records and cannot be redistributed without the label's expressed written consent. Page created 12/13/96 and last updated 3/20/12.
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