A giant spaceship carrying colonists to a new planet runs into unexpected troubles on its journey, ranging from encounters with abandoned alien craft to malfunctioning onboard computers and tensions among its crew and passengers. Written by
Somewhere between the Outer Limits and Star Trek lies this little science fiction gem from the former Czechoslovakia. This isn't I. Robot or that type of science fiction, which is Asimov wrapped up in a shiny steel and glass box. This is the actual story and not just the wrapping paper. It proudly carries on the tradition started by Forbidden Planet and This Island Earth, even though its not as exciting. It is actually more like the Magnetic Monster and the Outer Limits. This is science fiction done in crisp black and white. The screen may not be vivid, yet the special effects have an ethereally surreal quality. Mix that in with the futuristic Shostakovitch-like score and we have a compelling and eerie trip into the unknown.
The excitement and glory that comes from living and exploring space (Star Trek, Star Wars, etc.) is minimized in the movie. We get the basic day to day activities of the crew of the Ikarie, on its 28 month (15 years pass back on Earth) mission to our closest solar system, Alpha Centauri. We also get the dangers and rewards of hurling ourselves into the vast darkness.
It is the 22nd Century and we are out in the galaxy searching for life. The crew is comprised from a co-ed international pool. We never get to see Earth, yet we get a glimpse of what humans are like from the interactions of the crew (work, entertainment, nutritional intervals, exercise, reproduction and crisis). This is a future full of video screens, blasters, personal transmitters, turbo lifts, artificial gravity, Beatnik-like futuristic dancing and even Nike light up magnetic boots. This is the perfect/classical example of the sci-fi antithesis to Idiocracy. Humanity will improve with time.
The future is bright, shiny and worth waiting for. Man fixes the malaise of his species. We are never shown anything more lethal than a hand blaster, when it comes to weapons. On their mission, they encounter a perfectly preserved space relic from an Earth expedition of the 20th century. Let's just say our predecessors had very little nice things to say about us. Let's not forget that the 20th century contained two world wars, numerous genocides, the birth and use of the the atomic bomb.
One would also assume that a movie made in a Soviet influenced country would contain a certain amount of Communist and Pro-Soviet propaganda (for example, Planeta Bura). Thankfully this is all missing. About the biggest commentary comes from the critique of our 20th century counterparts. I found the only anti-capitalist message in the writing on the Earth relic. Everything inside is written in English, the ship was fully loaded with nuclear warheads and the the crew turned on each other. And even this critique is more of a jab at our collective selves then at full fledged opposition to capitalism.
If you are looking for epic space battles for the fate of the universe, look elsewhere because the crew kills absolutely no living thing. If you want 90 minutes of Georges Méliès mixed with Jules Verne, then you have found the perfect movie. I can easily see this movie as an influence on Kubrick's 2001, Rodenberry's Star Trek, Lucas' Star Wars and even Irwin Allen's Lost in Space. We even have a robot. He's definitely not as cool nor as good as Robby the Robot nor the robot that constantly saves the Robinsons.
We named him Patrick. Patrick the Robot. RIP. (Pour out some alcohol for the robots that aren't with us anymore).
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