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Before 2001 - Pavel Klushantsev’s classic science fiction film ‘The Road to the Stars’

Scenes from Road to the Stars and 2001, side-by-side.
Film-maker Alessandro Cima has posted some fascinating clips from Pavel Klushantsev’s classic 1957 Russian science-fiction film The Road to the Stars, over at Candlelight Stories. Forget Kubrick’s 2001 for as Cima explains, Klushantsev’s masterpiece was the first and arguably the better of the two films.

Pavel Klushantsev’s 1957 film, Road to the Stars, features astoundingly realistic special effects that were an inspiration and obvious blueprint for Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey ten years later.  The film is an extended form of science education, building upon existing 1950s technology to predict space exploration of the future.  The sequences with astronauts in zero gravity are incredibly realistic.  The second excerpt from the film features the construction of and life aboard a space station in earth orbit that is not only convincing but also beautiful.  There are several scenes with space station dwellers using videophones that anticipate the famous Kubrick videophone scene.

Watching these short clips now, it is no surprise that The Road to the Stars has been described as: of the most amazing special effects accomplishments in film history.

However, Klushantsev faced considerable difficulties in making such an effects-heavy film, at one point being asked by one Communist Party bureaucrat why he didn’t make a film about factory manufacturing or beetroot production, but as Klushantsev explained:

The Road to the Stars proved to me I did the right thing thing, one must envisage the future. People should be able to see life can be changed radically.

Klushantsev started work on the film in 1954, and liaised thru-out with Russia’s leading space program scientists, Mikhail Tikhonravov and Sergey Korolyov, to achieve accuracy with his own designs - from space suits, to cabin temperature and rocket design. Indeed, everything in Klushantsev’s film had to at least have an element of possiblity and it is this factual core that gave Klushantsev’s film a documentary-like feel. The film coincided with the launch of Russia’s robotic spacecraft, Sputnik, and led the previously antagonistic Russian bureaucrats to “foam at the mouth” and demand The Road to the Stars include shots of of the satellite in the film.

Bonus clips, plus short making-of documentary, after the jump…

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Leave a comment
Stanley Kubrick explains the plot of ‘2001’
02:55 pm


Stanley Kubrick

If you or anyone you know insists that they know what Stanley Kubrick’s classic film 2001: A Space Odyssey is all about, they are of course, bluffing, because no one really knows what that film is all about. There was, of course, one exception, and that would be the auteur himself. So what did Kubrick have to say about the “plot” and meaning behind his iconic film?

From a 1969 interview with Kubrick by Joseph Gelmis:

You begin with an artifact left on earth four million years ago by extraterrestrial explorers who observed the behavior of the man-apes of the time and decided to influence their evolutionary progression. Then you have a second artifact buried deep on the lunar surface and programmed to signal word of man’s first baby steps into the universe—a kind of cosmic burglar alarm. And finally there’s a third artifact placed in orbit around Jupiter and waiting for the time when man has reached the outer rim of his own solar system.

When the surviving astronaut, Bowman, ultimately reaches Jupiter, this artifact sweeps him into a force field or star gate that hurls him on a journey through inner and outer space and finally transports him to another part of the galaxy, where he’s placed in a human zoo approximating a hospital terrestrial environment drawn out of his own dreams and imagination. In a timeless state, his life passes from middle age to senescence to death. He is reborn, an enhanced being, a star child, an angel, a superman, if you like, and returns to earth prepared for the next leap forward of man’s evolutionary destiny.

That is what happens on the film’s simplest level. Since an encounter with an advanced interstellar intelligence would be incomprehensible within our present earthbound frames of reference, reactions to it will have elements of philosophy and metaphysics that have nothing to do with the bare plot outline itself.


Via Kottke

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
Hello Dave: The League of Gentlemen meet 2001: A Space Odyssey
09:59 am


The League of Gentlemen

An oldie, but a goodie. Still hilarious.

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
Jack Kirby: 2001
09:29 pm


Jack Kirby
Oh shit I broke my brain
Posted by Jason Louv | Leave a comment