The Sound of Star Trek Part 6: Star Trek – Insurrection


In this continuing series looking at the music of Star Trek, we reach 1998’s Insurrection and Jerry Goldsmith’s fourth full score for the movie franchise has all the hallmarks of a grandiose aural Greek Tragedy.

GNP Crescendo released the score on CD and cassette to tie in with the film launch. It was re-released (on CD only) in 2013 again by GNP Crescendo, but this time fully expanded and with bonus, alternative takes.

Goldsmith, who passed away in 2004 aged 75, had always enjoyed incorporating the use of synthesizers into his orchestral music, Logan’s Run from 1976 being a prime example of this type of fusion. Of course, The Motion Picture introduced the famous ‘blaster beam’ as well as utilizing a more traditional synth style and Medicine Man (a great score to an underrated 1992 vehicle for Sean Connery) also took liberties with electronic sounds. Insurrection is no different, finding a future sound with a classically traditional score.

Goldsmith is posthumously quoted in the 2013 edition’s sleeve notes, saying, “When you do a sequel, it’s always harder because it’s too easy to fall back on what you’ve done before.” We will be examining his work for Star Trek V: The Final Frontier another time but it’s important to acknowledge the influence that particular score has on his TNG output. A few motifs he wrote for The Final Frontier reappear in subtle ways in Insurrection (as do main themes for The Motion Picture) but on its own merits, his 1998 entry it is a very powerful and moving composition.

The music is glorious and is the most expressive out of any Goldsmith composed for the series and probably for the entire movie run as a whole. Offering a mix of action, romance and sci-fi intrigue, we find all of that in droves here, and the highlight of the score is ‘New Sight’ (expanded to become  ‘How Old Are You/New Sight’ for the 2013 edition). When a piece of music moves me, it makes the listening experience all the more rewarding and this track is unreservedly a stunning, perfect melody that grabs hold of one’s emotions and doesn’t let go (I dare you to not be moved by Goldsmith’s score while watching the scene between Anij and Picard when she seemingly stops time itself). It’s repeated throughout and becomes the leit motif of Insurrection, contrasting perfectly against the efficiently ugly desires of the Son’a and their Federation cohorts.

Lyrically constructed, it also embodies a militaristic feel that supports both Data’s run and Admiral Dougherty’s betrayal. It is this mix of styles and melodies that elevates Insurrection‘s musical characterizations into a score ultimately superior to The Final Frontier and First Contact. Nemesis? Well, that’s for another day.

Star Trek Insurrection Troi Riker Insurrection Copyright Paramount

It wouldn’t be a Goldsmith Star Trek score without his tremendous theme composed originally for The Motion Picture.

While he naturally employs it for the end credits (along with Alexander Courage’s fanfare for TOS) he uses it wisely whenever we see the Enterprise-E. That theme alone adds a heart-warming familiarity that we can’t be without.

Interestingly, the subplots of Riker’s and Troi’s rekindled romance are ignored for the scoring, as are the other revelations of regenerative youth among the crew. Patrick Stewart is without argument the star and so he is thematically represented along with Anij and a whole of host of new characters (including Ru’afo and the aforementioned Dougherty). While this could potentially undermine the importance and validity of the Enterprise-E’s crew within the confines of the story, echoes of Goldsmith’s Klingon theme and Courage’s fanfare allow us to accept matters as they are.

Action sequences aplenty for Picard as he battles Ru’afo at the story’s end and the score doesn’t go amiss. Swapping the sweeping Ba’ku themes with percussive and brass compositions we come to expect from Goldsmith, our attention is maintained right up until the closing scenes with a swathe of intertwined melodies.

Just as The Undiscovered Country focused on change, Kirk’s inability to accept it and the breakdown of a society, Insurrection focuses on things staying the way they are, Picard’s inability to believe it and the fracturing of a society. I mention this not because of any familiarity between Cliff Eidelman’s 1991 score and this 1998 one from Goldsmith, but because of the two wildly disparate styles of story and music for just one franchise: one dark, one light. Oh, and the final poster for Insurrection is uncannily similar to the teaser poster for The Undiscovered Country.

The film itself has been cited as being weak and somewhat tepid on action and, certainly following in the wake of First Contact, that’s not hard to believe. But if we take the viewpoint that had it featured as a two-part TNG episode proper, it would have, I firmly believe, fared much better and much stronger and possibly rank as one of the best of the 7-year run.

Director Jonathan Frakes and producer Rick Berman were wise to bring Goldsmith back and no matter what we made of the movie, surely it can’t be argued that his music for Insurrection is one of the most accessible and pleasing scores of all thirteen (to date) movies.

Next time: Michael Giacchino’s Star Trek