Ubisoft presents...
To the Stars by Hard Ways
To the Stars by Hard Ways

Cherez ternii k zvyozdam
Humanoid Woman
Sponsored by: Z Télé
star New 35mm print!

1985 | 123 min | 35mm
Russian language, English subtitles

Screening Times

July 20th, 2007
11:30 pm
J.A. De Seve
July 22nd, 2007
1:00 pm
J.A. De Seve

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The Soviet Starship Pushkin comes across an abandoned spaceship. With shades of Ridley Scott’s Alien and Mario Bava’s Vampire Planet, the astronauts investigate the spaceship and discover one living humanoid among the many dead fetuses hanging in incubators -- a wiry, white-haired gynoid named Neeya (played by the stunning model-turned-actress Yelena Metyolkina). A doctor, Stepan Lebedev, takes Neeya to his Russian dacha to live with his Jetsons-styled family, complete with Robby the Robot live-in maid, so that he can better study the female humanoid. Stepan learns that Neeya was created by her vitro-genetic engineer father figure to help restore their environmentally devastated planet, Dessa, back to its former glory -- and that she possesses superhuman mental powers which can be destructive if not properly harnessed. While living with the human family, Neeya begins the process of regaining her identity, depicted by recurring memory flashes of her genetic destiny. After receiving a premonition to return to her planet, Neeya smuggles herself onto a spaceship headed to Dessa, where she joins forces to overturn a despotic midget capitalist exploiting the planet’s ruined eco-system for profit.

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.

—Donato Totaro


New 35mm print!


Director: Richard Viktorov
Screenplay: Kir Bulychyov, Richard Viktorov
Cast: Yelena Metyolkina Vadim Ledogorov Uldis Lieldidz Yelena Fadeyeva Vatslav Dvorzhetsky
Producers: Aleksandr Kazachkov, Yuri Obukhov

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