Star Trek: Insurrection: About The Story

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Captain Picard's effort to save Lt. Commander Data leads him to the Ba'ku planet, where the Federation and their Son'a allies are conducting a cultural survey. The Ba'ku seem at first to be a simple race of only six hundred people, living in one village on their isolated world. But when Picard meets a Ba'ku woman, Anij (Donna Murphy), he gradually learns that there is more to her people than meets the eye: She, like most of her fellow Ba'ku, is more than three hundred years old.

Picard also learns that the survey is only a cover -- for a plot to kidnap the Ba'ku en masse and exile them from their world. Ru'afo (F. Murray Abraham), the Son'a leader, has discovered that the planet is bathed in metaphasic radiation that reverses aging. What the Ba'ku have, the Son'a -- an aged, dying race -- want desperately for themselves.

Picard confronts his superior officer, Admiral Dougherty (Anthony Zerbe) with what he has learned ... only to find that Dougherty and the top leaders of the Federation are part of the scheme. After all, says the admiral, there are only six hundred Ba'ku. Why should they stand in the way of progress?

Captain Picard objects: If a planetful of people can be forcibly removed from their world, destroying their way of life, where does it end? There may be only six hundred Ba'ku, but how many would it take to become wrong? A thousand? Fifty thousand? A million? But Admiral Dougherty will hear no protests: He gives Picard a direct order to withdraw and return to his previous mission.

For Jean-Luc Picard, it is the time of decision. If he obeys Dougherty's order, he would violate the principles of his Starfleet oath. Instead, he takes action. By the time he is done, Picard will have risked everything -- and left behind his crew, his career and ship to help the Ba'ku. The battle for Paradise has just begun ...

In Star Trek: Insurrection, the Enterprise voyages into the heart of values and ideals that have made the Star Trek universe unique in science fiction since Gene Roddenberry created it a generation ago. "On the last movie, Star Trek: First Contact," says producer Rick Berman, "we had very clear-cut villains with the Borg. This movie has a different series of levels to it. The obvious enemy is the evil Son'a, with their leader Ru'afo (F. Murray Abraham) -- they are trying to do some very nasty things to the Ba'ku." But, Berman adds, "there is also the ruling element of the Federation itself, the more subtle -- and perhaps more insidious ­ of enemies."

"Star Trek is all about the Prime Directive," explains Berman. The Prime Directive, which has been part of the Star Trek universe from the beginning, was designed to limit the arrogance of power, by forbidding the Federation from interfering with the natural development of other civilizations. According to Berman, "this story takes place on a world that is in the process of being unknowingly manipulated, by an alien species as well as by the Federation itself. It's not that the Federation is doing something blatantly evil," notes Berman, "but they are turning a blind eye to a small group of people in a faraway corner of the galaxy in order to gain something that they feel would be of great value."

Also, says Berman, "this is the story of Jean-Luc Picard's realization that no matter how small the group of people might be, the principles that the Federation is founded on have to be upheld. Picard decides that in the name of what he believes in, he is willing to give up his commission in Starfleet and go and fight for what he thinks is right."Patrick Stewart adds that, "any society and any civilization, no matter how advanced, or backward, or primitive it might be, should be permitted to develop at it's own pace. Picard and the other members of the Federation have all agreed to this philosophy of the prime directive, which is one of non-interference."

Reprising their starring roles as the crew of the starship Enterprise are Patrick Stewart (Captain Jean-Luc Picard), Jonathan Frakes (Commander William Riker) -- who also directs the film -- LeVar Burton (Lt. Commander Geordi La Forge), Michael Dorn (Lt. Commander Worf), Gates McFadden (Dr.Beverly Crusher), Marina Sirtis (Counselor Deanna Troi), and Brent Spiner (android Lieutenant Commander Data).

Joining the cast are F. Murray Abraham (Ru'afo), an Academy Award winner for Best Actor as Amadeus, Donna Murphy (Anij), a two-time Tony Award winner for her performances in The King and I and Passion, and Anthony Zerbe (Admiral Dougherty), who won an Emmy Award for his role on ABC-TV's Harry O, and who has appeared memorably in such films as Cool Hand Luke, Papillon, and License to Kill.

In addition to directing Star Trek: First Contact, Jonathan Frakes has directed episodes of Star Trek: The Next Generation, Star Trek: Voyager, and Star Trek: Deep Space Nine," as well as Diagnosis: Murder and University Hospital. Rick Berman serves as producer of Star Trek: Insurrection, continuing to guide the Star Trek universe. He produced the previous feature films Star Trek: Generations and Star Trek: First Contact, was executive producer of Star Trek: The Next Generation, and is currently co-creator and executive producer of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine and Star Trek: Voyager.

In addition to supervising the productions of Space, and Wallenbert: A Hero's Story, Berman produced Primal Mind, an award-winning special for PBS, and won an Emmy for Outstanding Children's Series as senior producer of The Big Blue Marble.

The story of Star Trek: Insurrection develops out of the struggle between two races, the Ba'ku and the Son'a. No two races could seem less alike than the eternally youthful Ba'ku, who have turned away from technology to seek a natural way of life, and the bitter, aging, technologically advanced Son'a. Yet these races turn out in the end to have an unexpected connection.

Says Donna Murphy, who plays Anij, "My people, the Ba'ku, are very intelligent and highly developed." As the film opens, the simple way of life they have chosen for themselves is threatened by intruders from the outside. According to Donna, "Anij is initially both fascinated by and suspicious of Captain Picard -- there is a kind of challenge of minds from the moment they meet that is quite provocative."

Performing in the world of Star Trek was like entering a new universe, according to Murphy. "I feel a great honor and responsibility to be a part of this film," she says, "because I know that the Star Trek audience has such a devotion to and affection for these richly drawn characters." Speaking of the Next Generation ensemble, she adds, "They are a family and so there is an ease among them, but they have also been really welcoming to me, and it's an infectious kind of atmosphere."

F. Murray Abraham plays Ru'afo, the Son'a leader determined to evict the peaceful Ba'ku from their world in order to steal the secret of youth. Ru'afo, says Abraham, "represents what everyone has always felt ­ they don't want to grow old. Only he's willing to go to extremes to become young again, and that makes him a little crazy." Of his part opposite Patrick Stewart as Captain Picard, Abraham notes, "Patrick is of the stage, and so am I, and so there is a great faith and confidence we have in each other. There is a great willingness by both of us to try new things ­ it was a pleasure, and I think it shows."

Anthony Zerbe plays Admiral Dougherty, Picard's superior officer. According to Zerbe, Dougherty "is a little political. The problem is one that all politicians deal with, even military ones -- the end justifies the means, and as Dougherty I have to take that position. There's only six hundred on the planet; if we have to lose six hundred to help billions, that's okay with me. It's not okay with Captain Picard."

Taking part in Star Trek, says Zerbe, "you feel it's more than a glance at some fictional future -- you immediately launch into it and say 'Yes, I'm here.' There's the excitement of the technology," he adds, "and the imagination of the future -- the possibilities, the mystery of it." At the heart of the story, however, is the moral dilemma of being human. "The human condition is our frailty, our moral frailty."

Making moral choices has always been part of the Star Trek tradition. For Captain Picard, the Prime Directive of non-interference with other life forms is a value for which he is ready to defy the Federation authorities. For other characters, there are values even higher than the Prime Directive. Says Gates McFadden, who plays Dr. Beverly Crusher, "My character has disobeyed the Prime Directive several times, because my oath as a doctor comes before my oath to the Prime Directive." A doctor's highest responsibility is to preserve life, "and so often I do things that are interfering with another planet or race," in order to save lives.

Marina Sirtis, Counselor Deanna Troi in the film, speaks of the crew's decision to defy their superior authorities. "We have been told by Starfleet basically to leave well enough alone. They've got their agenda; Starfleet is involved with what's happening to these people, and basically we defy them." The officers of the Enterprise are accustomed to making command decisions, and for them this is another one. "We make an executive decision that Starfleet is wrong this time," says Sirtis, "and we're going to go down there and make it right."

According to Sirtis, Patrick Stewart falls naturally into the role of the ship's captain. "You don't question it as actors," she says, "because Patrick engenders that feeling in us anyway -- he's our leader." She notes that "we've been involved with this for eleven years, we've done 179 episodes, three movies, and there are still surprises. There are more layers in this movie," she observes. "It's not as black and white. It goes back to a lot of what Gene Roddenberry felt about Star Trek -- I think he's going to be very happy up there when he sees this movie."

To producer Rick Berman, "the characters of the Next Generation as a family of Star Trek characters are very ideal -- a hopeful, uplifting view of what the future is about. And there's a great sense of warmth and compassion, not only in terms of the people they meet, but between them as a family."

Patrick Stewart agrees. "We really have to thank Gene Roddenberry, Rick Berman and the studio, who put this group together. They created a marvelous ensemble of actors, who also happen to have a great chemistry. We have a very strong relationship off-camera which has played a part in the way the relationships on-camera have developed."

In Star Trek: Insurrection, says Berman, the audience is going to see "a very dramatic and stirring story," but also one with elements of humor and romance. According to director Frakes, "there are some wonderful action sequences, along with a hilarious Gilbert & Sullivan homage, a hair-raising ship chase, and a brilliant visual effect involving Ru'afo (F. Murray Abraham) that should be incredible to watch."

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