Movie Diary 4/1/2018

Ikarie XB 1 (Jindrich Polák, 1963). An Iron Curtain sci-fi movie about a space voyage, very slow moving in general but with some groovy design and music. There’s a great party scene aboard the ship, a rare example of someone imagining what dance might look like in the future. The whole thing is not unlike the Star Trek vibe to come. Apparently it’s at least partly based on a Stanislaw Lem story, and if there’s anything that reminds you of the author of Solaris it’s the melancholy surrounding the way the cosmonauts will return to Earth (after a few years in space) having aged much less than their spouses and children back home. The director is Czech.

In the Dust of the Stars (Gottfried Kolditz, 1976). From East Germany, another Cold War picture, in which a spaceship answers a distress call from an alien planet and finds some debauched overlords exploiting the native population. It’s all very Seventies, and chock full of campy costumes and music, to say nothing of the curiously plentiful dance numbers. Oh, and the randomly deployed nudity. A few things make it interesting, including the fact that the ship’s crew is primarily female (including the captain, played by Czech star Jana Brejkóva) and nobody mentions it, as well as the serious consideration given to the responsibilities of this rescue ship to the oppressed people. Co-stars include German actor Alfred Struwe and Knife in the Water star Leon Niemczyk. The villainous leader of the planet is played by Ekkehard Schall, a respected German stage actor who plays it like a character out of Mike Myers’ Sprockets sketches.