Monday, April 25, 2011

Ikarie XB-1 (1963)

I’m very fond of eastern European movies, especially when they tried their hands on genre movies like horror, science fiction, action, disaster etc. Why? Because they took it more seriously. They might have used the same clichés, but with a sense of “Lets do this for real, why make something silly when we can do it hardcore?”. Sure, I miss monsters and huge invasions, but I appreciate that questions asked and the opposite propaganda which feels fresh compared to, for example, US counterparts. This is the first Czech sci-fi I’ve seen, and I want to see more!

Spaceship Ikarie XB-1 is moving thru space, after years and years of travel. The crew (and technology) is searching for other lifeforms, but after such a long time routine has taken over and it’s just like normal life on earth – just maybe more boring. Suddenly they find a spaceship. The crew, humans, are dead – in the middle of card games and partying (capitalistic behaviour!). It also has a nuclear bomb, which goes of and infects our crew… will they make it, or will they be just another mission lost in space?

Maybe I’m totally wrong here, but I would like to call Ikarie XB 1 neo-realism in space. It has a realistic story without any mumbo jumbo, shows ordinary life on a spaceship, frequently uses handheld camera and just feels so much down-to-earth (haha) compared to sci-fi movies from other countries. Even if the interior of the ship feel quite dated and the uniforms aren’t that different what they probably thought was futuristic in the sixties, the atmosphere on the other hand is fantastic. The best scene is when they enter the found spaceship, which is both eerie and have sense of realism.

On the down side the movie is very slow and nothing much really happens, not regarding action or adventure. It’s just a daily routine on a spaceship for the most of the running time, but slowly accelerates to a thriller when the other spaceship and the radiation spreading. The ending is powerful, optimistic and gives a few goose-bumps – and maybe it was best leaving it there where it ends. Not showing so much more just triggers the imagination, which in this case only is a good solution.

Ikarie XB-1 is a slow and maybe not too exciting sci-fi flick from the former Czechoslovakia, but for fans of good sci-fi this is a must, a very well-made and intelligent written story which leaves a taste for more Czech sci-fi.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I saw this recently....pretty good.

Neorealism/socialrealism is an accurate description by you,Fred/ninja....but was made in Czechoslovakia during the communist era.

Based on a novel by Stanislaw Lem....the novel was first banned(according to Wikipedia...don´t know if thats correct) and then later reissued uncut.