Monday, December 26, 2005

Stalinist sci-fi, part 2

The Moscow Times has an article on a movie about the 'forgotten' Soviet lunar expedition of 1938. Alexei Fedorchenko's 'First on the Moon' has won prizes at a series of film festivals - including best documentary in the 'Horizons' section of the Venice festival! - and wowed critics with its Borgesian mixture of fact and fantasy:

Among the things the director is proud of today is that in the staged material in "First on the Moon," any scholar of film should be able to trace the evolution of shooting styles through the 1930s. Less than a tenth of the final film is drawn from original archive material -- most notable are scenes of athletes parading on Red Square and extracts from Vasily Zhuravlyov's 1936 science-fiction feature "Cosmic Journey," about just such a moon expedition. All the rest of the black-and-white material was scrupulously created to match, a painstaking process that required designer Nikolai Pavlov and cinematographer Anatoly Lesnikov to find old cameras and film stock...

Fedorchenko's film can hardly be faulted stylistically, whether it's on monumental scenes like the rocket's blast-off, or on closer, often comic moments like preliminary experiments with a dog and a monkey. Some episodes have an intriguingly unexplained character, like the appearance, in one preparatory scene, of a group of German officers -- almost impossible in the historical context, but somehow stressing the sheer randomness of fate and the way history comes to be documented. But the real strength of Fedorchenko's film lies in its uneasy balance: While there's much that will draw laughter from today's audiences, the more elegiac and human strands of "First on the Moon" are no less strong.

Can't wait to see it...


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Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have heard that Russia landed on the moon first, but that the US was the first to return men back to Earth as well.
Also, has anyone here heard the story about how Russia was the first country to send a man to the sun?

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