With the new Trek reboot now in theaters and (hopefully) set to reinvigorate the franchise, it’s pretty interesting to note that this idea isn’t exactly a new one. While the storyline itself is original to this movie, the idea of rebooting the franchise and exploring the early adventures of the Enterprise crew was actually considered for the sixth Trek movie, The Unidiscovered Country. Ultimately, the film was made with the original crew, and is one of the best movies featuring that crew, but it went through all sorts of craziness before becoming the film we know and love today.
After the jump, check out ten facts you may not have known about Star Trek: The Undiscovered Country, the last film featuring all of the core original cast of Star Trek!
- The original proposal for Trek VI was actually called “The Academy Years,” and featured Dr. Leonard McCoy talking about how he met Kirk and Spock while addressing a group of Academy graduates. “The script shows Kirk and Spock’s upbringing, their meeting McCoy and Montgomery Scott at the Academy and defeating a villain before parting ways. The script would have established that George Kirk, James T. Kirk’s father, was a pilot who went missing—presumed dead—during a warp experiment with Scott. The script is set before the “enlightenment” of the Federation; slavery and racism are common, with Spock being bullied because he is the only Vulcan student. Nurse Christine Chapel cameos in the script’s climax.” (Wikipedia)
- Walter Koenig actually proposed an idea for Trek VI, codenamed “In Flanders Fields”; in it, the Romulans join the Federation and go to war with the Klingons. The Enterprise crew, except Spock, are forced to retire for not meeting fitness tests. When Spock and his new crew are captured by a monstrous worm-like race of aliens (which Koenig described as “things that the monsters in Aliens evolved from”), the old crew must rescue them. In the end, all of the characters except McCoy and Spock die.
- A third proposal involved Kirk meeting Next Generation’s Jean-Luc Picard, but this idea was kiboshed the producers of the Next Generation show, who weren’t ready to end the series.
- The idea for The Undiscovered Country came from Leonard Nimoy, a metaphor for the ending of the Cold War. The character of Gorkon was based on Mikhail Gorbachev.
- Leonard Nimoy declined to direct the film to avoid problems with William Shatner, (this would have been Nimoy’s third Star Trek feature after The Search for Spock and The Voyage Home).
- The original ending of the film showed the crew of the Enterprise having moved on from their lives in Starfleet. Spock’s whereabouts are classified; Kirk was to have married Carol Marcus (played by Bibi Besch in The Wrath of Khan), the mother of his late son, leading a settled life before a special envoy arrives at his door. McCoy is drunk at a posh medical dinner; Scott is teaching Engineering while the Bird of Prey from The Voyage Home is pulled from San Francisco Bay; Uhura hosts a call-in radio show and is glad to escape; and Chekov is playing chess at a club. This was rejected due to budgetary constraints.
- Paramount demanded this film be made for the same budget as the fifth film, The Final Frontier, because of that film’s disappointing box office returns. The final budget came in around $27 million.
- Gene Roddenberry hated the script. Director/Writer Nicholas Meyer’s first meeting with Roddenberry had Meyer storming out within five minutes. Roddenberry protested the villainization of Saavik, the military tone of the film, and the bigoted feelings between the humans and Klingons.
- Nimoy and Shatner’s memoirs report that after screening the movie, Roddenberry called his lawyer and demanded a quarter of the scenes be cut; the producers refused, and within 48 hours he was dead.
- To promote the film and the 25th anniversary of Star Trek, Paramount held marathon screenings of the previous five films in 44 select U.S. and Canadian cities. The 12-hour showings also included footage of The Undiscovered Country.
Alas, we’ve seen the last film featuring all of the original cast members, but at least it was a damn good one!