Ikarie XB-1: a film worth viewing

In 2011 the BFI Southbank ran a series of films under the collective title of Kosmos: A Soviet Space Odyssey. The expected Tarkovsky double of Solaris and Stalker aside, this was a revelatory collection that included such exotic titles as the 1936 Cosmic Voyage, the 1959 The Silent Star, the 1962 Planet of Storms, and the 1924 blockbuster Aelita, Queen of Mars. But prince of these splendid rediscoveries has to be Jindřich Polák’s 1963 Czechoslovakian space opera, Ikarie XB 1 .

Based on the novel Magellan Cloud by Solaris author Stanislaw Lem, the film is set in the year 2163 aboard a spaceship bound for the distant star of Alpha Centauri, which is orbited by planets that scientists believe are capable of supporting life. During the course of the journey, the routine and locational restrictions of their mission see the crew’s initial enthusiasm begin to wane, all of which changes when they encounter what appears to be an abandoned alien ship.

In case you haven’t guessed it, the title of the film is also the name of the ship on which these cosmonauts are travelling, one that apparently translates as “Icarus XB 1,” a questionable choice for a craft that is heading towards a distant sun. Then again, the film makes no secret that the mission is destined to take a dramatic turn, announced in an opening sequence in which crew member Michal (Otto Lackovič), wide-eyed with terror and brandishing a laser pistol, proclaims that the Earth has vanished and then blows away the camera on which he is being observed by his concerned crewmates.

from Kim Newman’s review at http://www.cineoutsider.com/reviews/bluray/i/ikarie_xb_1_br.html