Offering a startlingly realistic technological prophecy, Cosmic Voyage was the first Soviet sci-fi movie since the spectacularly popular Aelita: Queen of Mars in 1924. Itís the effects-filled story of Pavel (Sergei Komarov, who also appeared in Pudovkin's Deserter and Barnet's Outskirts), a renegade space traveler. Fed up with the restrictions imposed by the "Moscow Institute for Interplanetary Travel,Ē Pavel decides to build his own spacecraft and head for the moon together with his lovely female assistant. Impressive constructivist sets mark this lively, ambitious production, whose look might remind North American viewers of Flash Gordon serials. Konstantin Tsiolkovsky, a seminal space-travel theoretician, served as the production's science consultant (he was also the author of the film's source novel, Outside the Earth ) and drew up more than 30 detailed blueprints for the "rocketplane" featured in the film.
Cosmic Voyage is an interesting combination of patriotic propaganda and idealistic utopia. Itís a combination that only Russian fantastic cinema advanced to the point of outstanding perfection. Robert Skotak, the Academy Award winning special-effects artist, says of the film: "It's a heroic tale of a Communist society travelling to the moon. It was made during Stalin's purges and the push to modernize. But it's also as accurate a picture of space travel as one could conjecture at the time, with fanciful sequences of stop-motion animation and extravagant effects." There may be a rocket named after Stalin, but the film still reeks of anti-doctrinal individualism, doubtlessly accounting for Ukrainian-born Soviet filmmaker Zhuravlev's sporadic post-Cosmic Voyage output. Astonishing and truly advanced for its time special effects and animation work make Cosmic Voyage a genuinely precious gem that unmistakably earns the adoration of the genre faithfuls.
Director: Vasili Zhuravlev
Screenplay: Aleksandr Filimonov, from Konstantin Tsiolkovsky
Cast: Sergei Komarov
Producers: Boris Shumyatskiy
Distributor: Seagull Films