Showing posts with label Ikarie XB-1. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Ikarie XB-1. Show all posts

11 September 2013

Ikarie XB-1 DVD Review

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Release Date:
23rd September 2013 (UK)
Rating:
15
Distributor:
Second Run
Director:
Jindrich Polák
Cast:
Zdenek Stepánek, Frantisek Smolík, Dana Medrická
Buy:
Ikarie XB-1 [DVD]

Ikarie XB-1 is a fascinating piece of pre-2001: a Space Odyssey science fiction filmmaking. It was made 5 years before in 1963 and it’s from Czechoslovakia, which is not known for it’s science fiction with the possible exception of the writer Karel Ćapek. Ikarie XB-1 has never been released on these shores until now with Second Run’s (a label who specialises in Czech cinema) release. The film however has it admirers including esteemed directors like Joe Dante and Alex Cox. It has also been suggested its one of many space films Stanley Kubrick watched before he embarked on the task of making 2001.

The film’s source comes from one of the most world-renowned science fiction writers Stanislaw Lem, he also wrote the book Solaris is based on. Stanislaw like most great sci-fi writers dealt with philosophical themes and his work also at times were very satiric. He is also considered one of the most difficult writers to translate because of his elaborate word formulations. The book Ikarie XB-1 is based on The Mangellanic Cloud that has not yet been translated into English.

Ikarie XB-1 is not that dissimilarly to the better-known Solaris as both films are set almost entirety on a space ship. It is equally a journey though space to discover new worlds (in Ikarie XB-1 they are trying to find alien life on star near Alpha Centauri) and a mental one. Solaris is definitely a more artistically successful film but that’s part of the mastery of its director Andrei Tarkovsky.

Ikarie XB-1 has fantastic production design that at times is almost hallucinatory with its shapes and patterns of the interior of the ship. The cinematography throughout is really stunning with lots of strange disorienting angles that get the viewer into the mind-set of the crew. The outer space sequences are surprisingly effect and don’t seem too cheesy.

It’s overall a really surprising piece of early intelligent science fiction in cinema (they’re was already lots in the fiction world) that will really surprise a lot of people. The film was cut down by the US distributor and retitled Voyage to the end of the universe. The twist ending was cut and was replaced with a much happier ending but of course Second Run has released the original cut. The DVD is under £10 and it’s certainly worth you investment.

★★★★

Ian Schultz