I have long had an interest in history – not the pre-digested canned history most of us get these days, but the messy and often contradictory details of real events, and the unexpected actions taken by real people, which all too often refuse to fall neatly into the familiar patterns we expect. This, of course, […]Read more "Hard to Be a God [Es ist nicht leicht ein Gott zu sein] (1989)"
This is one of Polish director Piotr Szulkin‘s four political parables disguised as Science Fiction films from the Eighties. One wonders how in the world he got them made, as they offer a blistering assault on the realities of Communist life. I believe Poland was, at the time, one of the most repressive Eastern Bloc states, […]Read more "The War of the Worlds: Next Century [Wojna swiatów – nastepne stulecie](1981)"
(aka, The Orion Loop) It’s interesting to note that, unlike some of the Soviet SF films of the Eighties, this one doesn’t seem to have any barely concealed criticisms of Soviet life. Instead, it is a fairly straightforward story about cosmonauts on a mission to explore a mysterious phenomena known as Orion’s Loop. The crew of […]Read more "Petlya Oriona [Orion’s Loop](1981)"
This is a singularly ugly film, shot with incredible beauty. Dead Man’s Letters is by far the best known of Konstantin Lopushansky’s films here in the U.S. It is also the least of them – at least of the ones I have seen. It is neither as harrowing as the absolutely brilliant and indescribable Visitor […]Read more "Dead Man’s Letters [Pisma myortvogo cheloveka] (1986)"
(aka: Dark Planet: Rebellion; The Inhabited Island: Mêlée; The Inhabited Island: Skirmish) This is part two of the recent adaptation of a novel by the Russian SF writers, Boris and Arkady Strugatsky, a film I suspect may have been made at the same time as part one. While the first film (see my review here) ended […]Read more "Obitaemyy ostrov: Skhvatka [Inhabited Island 2: Rebellion](2009)"
For no particular reason, I seem to have spent my weekend on a Soviet SF binge, watching this film, Moon Rainbow and Inhabited Island (made long after the fall of the wall). Although this one is supposedly a joint Soviet and Czech production, it is in Russian and some invented “primitive” language. In many respects, it […]Read more "Podzemelye vedm [The Witches Cave] (1989)"
This is a remarkably beautiful film. It is, of course, a Russian attempt at making the sort of big budget, big effects SF we’ve been making here in the US lately. And, again, of course, it should come as no surprise that it is quite different from the American product. Which is just fine in […]Read more "Obitaemyy ostrov [Inhabited Island] (2009)"