Sunday Night Movie:Ikarie XB1

This past Sunday was a bit different for my Sunday Night Movie feature in that is was a movie I watched together with my Sweetie-wife.

After writing on Saturday about the late lamented Creature Feature from my youth, I went on line to see if Planet Of The Vampire had been re-released on DVD again. (nope, not yet.) However I found the trailer for the movie at YouTube and of course I had to give it a go. While I was watching the trailer for Planet Of The Vampires, I spotted a clip for something from a ‘soviet-style SF film’ about exploring a derelict spaceship. It fascinated me and I wanted to watch the movie it came out of.

There were 198 comments on that YouTube post and a great deal of them were flame-wars over the fact that the film was Czechoslovakian and not Soviet or Russian. However there were very few posts naming the damned movie. Eventually I did discover the film was called Ikarie XB-1 and was made in 1963.

A quick searched showed that the filme was released on DVD in 2006, was out of print, could not be rented and used copies were going to sum too great for me to buy. (I’ll spend money on movies I know, but its rare that I will buy a movie I have never seen unless I get it dirt cheap.)

By the time Sunday came around I laid my hands on a copy of the film and me and my sweetie-wife watched it.

The film is about the flight of the first inter-stellar craft, Ikarie XB-1, en route to Alpha Centauri. (I am told by my lovely wife that Ikarie is Czech for Icarus.) The navigation must have been off on this trip as the round trip will take the ship fifteen years from earth’s perspective but just 28 months by ship-time. Sounds like the ship is going very nearly the speed of light, but round trip to Alpha C would then be about 9 years, not 15 Earth time.

Anyway the ship is manned by forty people, both men and women, single and married. The film is entirely about the trip and the hazards they face. It was a very serious, though flawed, attempt to do dramatic action and not wild action in an SF environment. There is an attempt at showing a different culture than what was standard in 1963. The crew are dealing with a  number of interpersonal issues and the stresses of the close-quarters living.

The derelict spaceship sequence that tripped me onto this title is from about the middle of the movie and really was quite nicely done. It was something much better than what we are normally used to seeing from SF of the late 50s and early 60s.

That said the film was on the slow side and I think the mountain the writers and film-makers set out to conquer was beyond their skills.

Still, I am glad I got a chance to see it. It is always interesting to see genre films of the period made from a decided non-western viewpoint.


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