On the brink of war with the Klingons, the Federation Starship USS Enterprise meets with the Klingon Chancellor to start negotiations of peace. After a strained meeting, two shots are fired at the Klingon vessel, seemingly from the Enterprise, and two Starfleet crew members board the ship, killing several crewmen and wounding the Chancellor. Framed for being responsible for the crime, Captain Kirk and Doctor McCoy face death at the hands of the Klingons. Spock and the rest of the Enterprise crew must now find out the truth of what happened but with distrust on all sides it they will have to fight to discover the truth.

Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country (1991) – Director: Nicholas Meyer

Is Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country appropriate for kids

Rating: PG

Running Length: 113 mins

Starring: William Shatner, Leonard Nimoy, DeForest Kelley

Genre: Science Fiction, Thriller

REVIEW

Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country’ is the sixth movie instalment of the Star Trek franchise based on the 1960’s TV show by Gene Roddenberry. All of the original crew feature in the movie; however Sulu is now captain of his own ship and therefore does not feature as heavily as the rest of the cast. Being a ‘cold war’ style story, the science fiction element is balanced with the more down-to-earth storyline of being on the brink of war and the importance of mutual understanding between bitter enemies. Also, having the crew being framed for the crime of killing the Klingon Chancellor brings thriller and mystery elements to the story, keeping the audience guessing about who could be involved in the plot all the way through.

‘The Undiscovered Country’ features several cameos from actors such as Christian Slater and Michael Dorn (of ‘Star Trek: The Next Generation’ fame, here playing his better known character’s ancestor, ‘General Worf’, Kirk and McCoy’s defence attorney). However, the main draw of the movie is the ensemble Star Trek cast; the dynamic between all of them is warm and comfortable and an extra poignancy is present due to this being the final ‘Original Series’ movie (although William Shatner reprised his role as Kirk for the seventh film, ‘Star Trek: Generations’, along with some original cast in the opening scene). Unlike many sci-fi movies of this era, the strength of the plot has enabled ‘The Undiscovered Country’ to be relevant today and thankfully, it hasn’t dated. It also isn’t just a movie for sci-fi fans. This is a movie which is complicated but not boring, its story is gripping and the characters are well written. While the glossy new J.J. Abrams movies are currently popular, ‘The Undiscovered Country’ should not be overlooked as a good movie that is as powerful today as it was when it was released in 1991.

IS ‘STAR TREK: THE UNDISCOVERED COUNTRY’ SUITABLE FOR CHILDREN?

When the Klingon ship is attacked, their artificial gravity systems are disabled and the ship is boarded by two people wearing helmets (which hide their identities) as well as magnetic boots, keeping them physically grounded to the floor. They then proceed to shoot and kill several Klingon crew members who are floating about the ship and completely helpless; their pink coloured blood spurts out and floats in the anti-gravity atmosphere of the ship. Later, when the gravity systems are switched back on, the blood falls and pools on the floor. Captain Kirk and Doctor McCoy board the ship in order to help and, as the Chancellor is badly wounded with blood all over his chest, McCoy performs CPR in order to try to save him.

When Kirk and McCoy are on trial for attacking the Klingon vessel, they stand on a circular platform. While there is a bright spotlight focused on them, the rest of the area is dark. There are hundreds of Klingons in the court room, all of whom are against them, aggressively shouting and jeering whenever anything is said. All that can be seen of the Klingons are their silhouettes and fists which are regularly raised in an aggressive manner. The Judge has a gruff, scary voice and also appears to be against Kirk and McCoy giving little consideration to their defence. He occasionally leans forwards so that his face is partially seen in the light but he is mostly hidden in the darkness. This whole scene, which lasts around 10 to 15 minutes is very menacing and intimidating and could be quite scary for younger kids.

When Kirk and McCoy are sentenced, they are sent to a labour camp which one of the characters refers to as the ‘alien’s graveyard’. When they first arrive at the camp, they are warned not to try to escape; a man who has presumably been caught escaping is dragged before them. The camp is on a freezing cold planet and everyone is wearing thick fur coats. This man is wearing only thin rags and is pushed to the floor. He lurches and shivers in the cold several times but soon stops moving. There is then a close up and static shot of the dead man around 10 – 15 seconds. Later in the movie, there is another close-up shot of a frozen body with icicles between their fingers.

In the prison, Kirk and McCoy meet an ally who gives them a cigar to smoke in order to keep them warm, they then proceed to smoke the cigar on a regular basis with the explanation given that it is ‘keeping them warm’ – although how this is accomplished is unclear. Both Kirk and the alley are shown to enjoy smoking the cigar. Before this, during a fight with another inmate, Kirk kicks his opponent in the legs, causing it extreme pain. A bewildered Kirk is then informed that ‘not everyone keeps their genitals in the same place’.

In order to find out some truths, Spock performs a Vulcan mind-meld on another crew member. He puts his hands on their face with the intention of finding out what they know. The scene becomes quite intense when the sound of a heartbeat is heard. Spock and the crew member speak at the same time, creating a slightly creepy dialogue. When trying to find out information which hasn’t been shared so far, the crew member becomes distressed and cries out in fear and pain. This apparent torture lasts only a few seconds but, due to this scene becoming increasingly intense, it could be a little scary for young kids.

CAN I SEE A CLIP?

VERDICT

While the majority of the movie is appropriate for kids, the actual story is rather grown up and could be a little hard for younger viewers to follow. Although there is plenty to keep the audience hooked, young kids may find it a little boring as there is not a huge amount of action on display. In terms of content, we feel that ‘The Undiscovered Country’ should be appropriate for kids aged 7 and over but may not appeal to kids aged under 10.

  • Violence: 3/5 (in additional to the moments we have already mentioned, one character is vaporised and, while there is no blood or gore, they scream in pain. Also, when two bodies are found, one of them has a large burn mark on their head and the dialogue explains that they were shot at close range)
  • Emotional Distress: 0/5
  • Fear Factor: 3/5 (the court scene is particularly intimidating and the labour camp is also quite scary)
  • Sexual Content: 1/5 (a female character approaches Kirk when he is lying in bed and kisses him but nothing sexual happens)
  • Bad Language: 1/5 (some mild cursing and blasphemy)
  • Dialogue: 2/5 (Kirk is very prejudiced against the Klingons and, when informed that they, as a race, could die, he says ‘let them die’. He also mentions that he is unable to forgive the Klingons for the death of his son)
  • Other notes: Deals with themes of prejudice, finding the truth of a situation, doing the right thing, accepting that prejudice could be blinding your judgement and the importance of questioning authority in the face of injustice.

Words by Laura Record

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