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Cherez ternii... was released when I was a boy of 14 living in the Soviet Union and hungry for anything sci-fi. Well, this one fit the bill perfectly. With a typical 1980s story (ecological catastrophe, hints on the "soullessness of the capitalist society") and special effects somewhat more advanced than those of the British Dr. Who series, it still was two heads above anything else released in the USSR until then.
The film became an instant hit.
Now, keep in mind that we could not see the Star Wars or any other of the many Western sci-fi flicks of the time, with rare exceptions. And the sci-fi culture of the "socialist camp" was, no pun, campy. Special effects were typically like those of the early Dr. Who series (not that we had heard anything of Dr. Who either), and the plot simple as a nursery rhyme. In this context, Cherez ternii was a star indeed.
Plus, the nude scene, albeit short, was unusual for the Soviet cinematography of the time and rather attractive to the boys who had just advanced to the adolescent state.
All this made the fan base of the movie as wide as the Soviet Union itself, which is about as wide as Russia is now. Speaking of which, those boys of 1981 are today grownups, and so they decided to re-release Cherez ternii, with an improved picture and sound quality and somewhat rehashed frame sequence. If you understand Russian and decide to watch it, you can order it online.
As an adult, I would rate Chere Ternii k Zvezdam about the same as an average Star Trek episode, no better, no worse. Wish I could see Star Trek when I was a child.
The director of Cherez Ternii, R. Viktorov, made two more cult sci-fi films: Moskva-Kassiopeya (Moscow to Cassiopeia) and Otroki vo Vselennoj (Youths in the Universe). Check them out if you feel like it.
Oh, and btw, this Sandy Frank's version, Humanoid Woman, is total crap. But you knew that already, didn't you?
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