Cosmic Voyage

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(7/10) In a nutshell: Kosmichesky Reys: Fantasticheskaya Novella is a stunning, costly Soviet moon landing adventure from 1935, inspired by Fritz Lang’s 1929 film Woman in the Moon. Thanks to the collaboration of a noted space and rocket scientist, it is impressively accurate. The film is aimed at a juvenile audience, and it’s a very enjoyable and exciting space adventure movie.

Cosmic Voyage. 1935, USSR. Silent. Directed by Vasili Zhuravlyov. Written by Alexandr Filimonov and Konstantin Tsiolkovsky. Based on the novel Beyond the Planet Earth by Konstantin Tsiolkovsky. Based on the novel Woman in the Moon by Thea von Harbou (uncredited). Starring: Sergei Komarov, Ksenya Moskalenko, Vassili Gaponenko, Nikolai Feoktistov, Vasili Kovrigin, Sergei Stolyarov. Produced by Boris Shumyatskiy for Mosfilm. IMDb score: 7.0

Cosmonaut Andryusha (Vassili Gaponenko) is a child actor who actually managed not to be annoying.

Cosmonaut Andryusha (Vassili Gaponenko) is a child actor who actually managed not to be annoying.

Kosmicheskiy Reys: Fantasticheskaya Novella, known internationally as Cosmic Voyage or The Space Voyage, is without a shadow of a doubt the best science fiction film to come out of the USSR in the thirties. More so, it is probably the best sci-fi movie to come out of Europe in the thirties, which is a pretty sad statement on the European science fiction scene in that decade (though we sort of did have other stuff than moviemaking to think about at the time …). Although aimed at a juvenile audience, the film is based on hard (albeit speculative) science, and depicts a journey to the moon as realistically as was possible in 1935. Fritz Lang came even closer to reality with his eerily accurate 1929 film Woman in the moon (review), but Cosmic Voyage isn’t far off the mark. Released in late December 1935, the film was the last all-out science fiction film to be released in the Soviet Union until Nebo Zovyot (The Heavens Call, released re-edited and with additional footage as Battle Beyond the Sun in the US), released in 1959.  Continue reading

Aerograd

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(5/10) A daunting, but visually stunning, piece of bolshevik propaganda, Alexandr Dovzhenko’s 1935 film Aerograd is basically an operatic Soviet version of a John Wayne frontier film. Not much sci-fi in this vaguely futuristic tale, but a treat for lovers of poetic cinematography.

Aerograd. USSR, 1935. Directed by Alexandr Dovzhenko. Written by Alexandr Dovzhenko, N. Simonov. Starring: Stepan Shaigaida, Sergei Stolyarov, Stepan Shkurat, Evgeniya Melnikova. Produced by GUKF, Ukrainfilm, Mosfilm. IMDb score: 6.2

Stepan the bolshevik tiger killer, played by Stepan Shagaida.

Stepan the bolshevik tiger killer, played by Stepan Shagaida.

Of the many subtle sci-fi films I’ve reviewed on this blog, Aerograd is without doubt the one that’s come the closest to getting the axe. Despite the Metropolis-sounding name, anyone who is expecting a thirties version of Cloud City will be utterly disappointed to find Russian bear hunters chasing Japanese spies in the Far Eastern forests of the USSR while engaging in long monologues about the socialist creed. But still the film did make the cut, since it can very well be interpreted as a futuristic take on the frontier myth, all leading up to the construction of a new utopian city on the western shores of the Pacific Ocean. Continue reading