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Saturday, October 15, 2011
Exploring derelict space ship in rare Soviet-style SF film
Here's an amazing scene from an ultra-rare, kitschy, trippy, Soviet-style SF film, Ikarie XB 1 (aka Ikaria XB1, Icarus XB1 and Voyage to the End of the Universe). Czechoslovakia's first science fiction film, this remarkable 1963 movie tells the story of Starship Ikaria XB 1's 2163 trek to Alpha Centari. ("Voyage" was the savagely cut, English dubbed version released by American International Pictures.)
The film is generally apolitical, except for this remarkable scene, in which the explorers enter a derelict 20th Century space craft, littered with evidence of capitalist immorality. The visuals are striking. Corpses of tuxedo-clad, gambling westerners, their bodies preserved by open vacuum. The crew killed by their own chemical hand-weapons as they fought over dwindling oxygen. The ship laden with nuclear weapons -- still active after centuries.
Ikarie XB 1 is an ambitious, thoughtful, intelligent film that was decades ahead of its time. It's an ultra-rare "must-see" for any serious SF fan, with high-concept elements galore: a trip to proxima centaura; time dilation; future foods, fashion, music and dance; first-contact protocols; increased longevity; artificial intelligence; bulky socialist robots.
It's said the screenplay was inspired by the work of Stanislaw Lem, including "The Magellanic Cloud" from 1955.
Available as a PAL Region 2 DVD from European retailers, and in the US from xploitedcinema.com. Please buy the DVD to help encourage future DVD releases of other Eastern-bloc SF gems.