Filmed in the Soviet Union just after World War II, this is a rare gem of fairytale movie making. It’s a fantastically colorful telling of the tale that stands as a welcome contrast to the Disney approach. The film features one of Russia’s greatest stage actresses, Faina Ranevskaya, as the stepmother. It was produced by the Soviet LenFilm studio and directed by Mikhail Shapiro and Nadezhda Kosheverova. I think it was originally filmed in black & white but was recently colorized for a DVD release. The colorization works well within the context of a fairytale with grand stage scenery and theatrical costumes.
This is an extraordinary 1984 science fiction animation from the Soviet era Ukrainian film studio known as Kievnauchfilm. Aliens visit the earth to investigate whether humans have any knowledge of the reality behind UFOs.
Here’s a link to another animation from this studio. Stephen King’s ‘Battleground’ short story.
This is a 1986 adaptation of a Stephen King short story called ‘Battleground.’ It was produced by the Soviet Ukrainian Kievnauchfilm studio, which was primarily a documentary outfit during the Soviet era. After the fall of the Soviet Union, the studio became the National Cinematheque of Ukraine.
The story concerns a seemingly innocuous package that turns out to contain an invading force of toy soldiers. One man wages a battle for survival against what he assumes is an inferior opponent.
This is an absolutely fascinating and rather beautiful 1936 Soviet science fiction film that foretold how a future 1946 moon mission would work. It’s got incredible zero gravity effects, miniature models of a fantastic space ship on a launch ramp, and very cool technical details like filling the cockpit with fluid to buffer the cosmonauts from launch forces. Then there’s a marvelous sequence on the surface of the moon with excellent stop motion animation inter-cut with live actors. Apparently, the Soviet censors banned the film after a short but successful first run because they felt the cosmonauts were having too much fun on the moon. They were right. These characters go hopping and bounding about with so much joy it’s almost an embarrassment. Citizens of the Soviet Union were not supposed to be happy.
Don’t worry about understanding Russian. The film was shot as a silent and is more or less a completely visual experience.
It was directed by Vasili Zhuravlov, but what’s really most interesting about the production history is that Constantin Tsiolkovski, a Soviet scientist and professor, became enthusiastic about putting some of his theories on space travel into a film. He consulted with the filmmakers in an attempt to lend verisimilitude to the moon voyage. Many years later, Werner von Braun credited Tsiolkovski’s calculations as having been correct.
So here is a old Soviet film that went to great lengths to get many of its details right.
Here is an interesting article about the film.
This is regarded as being the first Soviet science fiction film. Made in 1924, it’s an operatic scenario involving a mysterious radio signal sent toward earth, a scientist who builds a spaceship to get to the red planet only to find a totalitarian state, and a dictator’s daughter who wants to lead a revolution. There’s even a hammer and sickle to go along with the establishment of a socialist republic on Mars.
The film combines outlandish stage scenery representing Mars with the gritty streets and factories of Moscow. There’s some really beautiful photography and truly absurd costumes throughout.
Directed By Yakov Protozoan
Written By Aleksei Fajko and Fyodor Otsep
Based On A Play By Aleksei Tolstoy
All six parts of the film can be seen in this YouTube playlist.
Have you ever watched Andrei Tarkovsky’s brilliant 1972 Russian science fiction film, Solaris? Well, you should. It’s long and it moves at its own leisure, but you’ll be richly rewarded with an unforgettable cinematic experience. When I was a kid I was a huge fan of Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey. So when I went to see this film I was very cranky about it because it just didn’t have the same look as 2001. But Tarkovsky was not interested in spaceships or realistic zero gravity. He was looking for the soul. Solaris is a deeply emotional film that points the way toward a science fiction that does not rely on science or technology for its visuals. If you have seen the recent version of Solaris by Steven Soderbergh, you really should consider watching this one. Tarkovsky was not afraid to dismantle the normal narrative drive and pacing of the majority of Hollywood films. He allowed time to play itself out in his films. No scene was ever cut to spare an audience’s attention span. Soderbergh, for all his efforts to look independent, is completely at the mercy of the prevailing winds of Hollywood and makes every film to suit the intellectual capacities of a thirteen year old audience. This is usually apparent in the editing, not the writing. Hollywood filmmakers edit films as if they are flashcards for the slow learners. You can’t call yourself an independent filmmaker if you are really just a prostitute. Tarkovsky was, in spite of the constant oversight by the authoritarian Soviet government, a true unbending independent.
The film is an adaptation of the novel by the great Polish science fiction writer, Stanislaw Lem.
It has been made available by Mosfilm for free viewing on their new YouTube channel.