In a small coastal town,in the middle of the summer,the beaches are overcrowded,every piece of land occupied by tents and the cars of the tourists.A small group of filmmakers decide to shoot here a “masterpiece” by putting on a fake bank a ship.Suddenly,the crowd spreads the rumor that a comet will fall to the Earth very soon.At the last moment the most savvy vacationers decide to save themselves from a certain death by making some last minute unexpected changes in the script… Read More »
This is, in essence, a Soviet rendition of Star Trek with a teenage crew. The story revolves around a project to send a manned spaceflight to Alpha Cassiopeia to investigate a signal received from there, and, due to the relative slowness of the fastest available engines, the trip is predicted to take something around 27 years in one direction. Therefore, a crew of teenagers is recruited – in hope than when they reach their destination, they will all be aged around 40 and capable of carrying out whatever adult actions necessary to establish First Contact. But, as always, things go awry… The storyline is split up into two parts – this is the first, dealing with the foundation of the plot and the ship’s launch. Read More »
To the Stars by Hard Ways was first released in 1985, and the print being screened at Fantasia is the newly restored version that was shorn of 20 minutes and re-edited by the director’s son Nikolai Viktorov in 2001. Once given the Mystery Science Theatre treatment in a truncated version known as Humanoid Woman, To the Stars by Hard Ways has gained a cult-classic status among Russian youths who were attuned to the film’s blend of pop social commentary and stunning visual alchemy. The latter is a result of a varied cinematic style which incorporates poetic touches of Tarkovskian influenced naturalism (“earthy, organic” set design), shifting colour patterns (between sepia, monochromatic blue and saturated nature imagery), and simple yet inventive in-camera special effects (slow motion, reverse, dissolves, mirror shots etc.). To the Stars by Hard Ways functions marvelously well on multiple levels — as a trippy science-fiction social critique of environmental neglect, as a campy treat of mod visuals and Star Trek-influenced human and alien characters, and as a retro Communist propaganda piece. Even with these at times radical shifts in tone, the film remains a genuinely moving existential space opera.
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