After TREK V‘s search for God received a heretical box office response, WRATH OF KHAN director Nicolas Meyer was brought back into the captain’s chair to give the old cast a more fitting departure. Yet while it celebrated classic Trek to just about everyone’s content, THE UNDISCOVERED COUNTRY would also chance upon major new scoring talent in 27 year-old Cliff Eidelman, a composer who’d more than shown promise with the epic orchestral scores of MAGDALENE and TRIUMPH OF THE SPIRIT, as well as his character-oriented comedic work with CRAZY PEOPLE and DELIRIOUS. Given the chance of a scoring lifetime here, Eidelman impressively brought all of his symphonic passion to bear on VI with a sense of throttling suspense that was unlike any TREK score before it.
Just as he’d grounded the series’ indulgent special effects with WRATH OF KHAN, Meyer brought new social relevance to the franchise with COUNTRY‘s conspiratorial, Cold War analogy as the Klingon Empire is brought to its knees- a cosmic event in the Trek universe that showed peace as the greatest threat of all. Eidelman’s score subversively takes that ridge-headed perspective, with barbaric drumming, snarling brass, Klingon chanting and an overall sense of seething, militaristic menace that makes us question, along with Kirk, if these seeming savages are really worth the trouble. Taking no small amount of inspiration from the “Mars, Bringer of War” segment of Gustav Holst’s “The Planets,” along with Stravinsky’s “Firebird.” Eidelman’s soundtrack has a relentlessly thrilling pace, its darkness even more threateningly evocative given Intrada’s complete release of the score. Amidst the crew’s gripping race to save their once-mortal enemies, Eidelman’s strings bring out the warmth, and vulnerability of these iconic characters, making their heroic payback against the future’s right-wingers all the sweeter when “Country” reaches its exhilarating, full charge climax, with Eidelman’s music breathlessly intercutting between the double-climaxes of a space battle and attempted assassination on the planet below. Eidelman finally provides a majestic, series-worthy swan song as his own melodies beautifully play alongside Alexander Courage’s iconic theme as The Enterprise warps off to the actor’s onscreen signatures (though it should have been their characters instead)- at least until series’ disastrous return with GENERATIONS.
Not only did Cliff Eidelman score the feature, but the composer would also be given the chance to give fans a taste of his memorable work to come by incorporating his themes into two original movie trailer scores, both of which are featured on COUNTRY‘s long-awaited, two-CD ultimate edition, which also features the original soundtrack presentation. And of course, TREK music expert Jeff Bond is once again on hand to offer his sage observations on the unique impact of Eidelman’s work that heralded him as a composer of note. Here’s hoping it won’t be long before we can read Bond’s thoughts on a complete release of Jerry Goldsmith’s STAR TREK- THE MOTION PICTURE, especially with these TREK ultimate editions rocketing into fans’ hands at welcome warp speed.
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