By Eric Grossman
Let’s talk about Soviet science fiction for a bit. For those with some background in either film or in Eastern European culture, the name of Tarkovsky and those of his films (Stalker, Solyaris) readily come to mind. His is quite a prominent name, due in no small part to the art and depth of his films.
Yet, moving away from the very symbolic, meditative worlds of Tarkovsky’s films, we arrive at a place not unlike popular American science fiction of about the same time. In America, those interested in the future of mankind could watch Star Trek for an optimistic, heroic view of man. On the other hand, they could also choose to watch A Clockwork Orange for a very different, altogether pessimistic view of the state of things. Similarly, the U.S.S.R. had its own popular, heroic science fiction to counter the probing works of Tarkovsky.
The trailer posted is for a film called “Planet of the Storms,” a film in which an intrepid band of cosmonauts journeys to Venus. There, they encounter (and subdue, in many cases) the native fauna and the rare flora, as well as sultry space babes. The film was once available on youtube, but it’s now hard to find. For an alternative, there’s “To the Stars by Hard Ways,” a space opera that is rather safe in its themes.
I should note that this isn’t a criticism, per se, of popular sci-fi from either culture. Rather, I find it interesting that the two parallel one another so closely, both in the popular material itself and in the existence of a distinct counter-current.