Exploring Soviet Science Fiction Films

One of the most fascinating classes I took for my degree in Queer Ethnic Studies was Race, Gender, and Science Fiction. In that class, we looked at the very different kinds of futurist perspectives present in authors from different backgrounds. For example, comparing and contrasting the futurisms of Indigenous Americans versus Black Americans versus Asian Women, etc.

There is so much that is different and interesting and valuable about soviet perspectives; they invented much of what forms the foundation of the modern world. For example, what we think of as artificial intelligence today was invented by soviet mathematicians. They also developed techniques for growing citrus fruits in the arctic at such a scale that they became one of the world’s leading producers of a fruit that can’t freeze, in a region that spends much of the year at over thirty degrees below zero.

There is much to criticize about the Soviet Union, just like America. There is also much to praise, just like America. Soviet Futurism is a topic that has always fascinated me, so I started researching and found this video with a list of recommendations for soviet science fiction films, and so I have found them all and added them below…

City Zero (Город Зеро). 1988. Theatre of the absurd, mysterious tragicomedy, black metaphor. Music by Auktsyon (Аукцыон).

Stalker (Сталкер). 1979. A cerebral timeless masterpiece by A. Tarkovsky, one of the most influential directors of all time. Loosely based on a novel by Strugatsky brothers that somehow foresaw the Chernobyl disaster, it is a philosophical tale about our destiny and choices. Music by Bowery Electric.

Planet of Storms (Планета Бурь). 1962. Approved by Korolev, the leading Soviet space engineer. Illegally e-edited and re-dubbed as American movie ” Voyage to the Prehistoric Planet ” in 1965. Music by Asylum Party.

Dead Man’s Letters (Письма мёртвого человека). 1986. Directed by probably most faithful of all Tarkovsky’s followers K. Lopushansky, this film is a heavy and realistic portrayal of the end of the world. Not an easy watch due to an extreme realism. Music by Ital Tek.

Inquest of Pilot Pirx (Дознание пилота Пиркса). 1978. A Polish-USSR (mostly Estonian) co-production based on short stories by Stanislaw Lem, it is a mix of Blade Runner and Alien released before them. Music by Klangstabil.

Parade of the Planets (Парад планет). 1984. Probably the least sci-fi movie in this list, woven of a light and some invisible matter. It’s a tale about the destiny, youth and death. Music by Former Ghosts and Timothy D. Hecker.

Kin-Dza-Dza! (Кин-Дза-Дза!). 1986. The weirdest movie in this list with top Soviet actors and tons of absurd and black humour. It’s hilarious, weird and sad parody on both capitalist and communist societies. A cult movie in all ex-USSR and one of the best Soviet satires of all time.

Aelita (Аэлита). 1924. One of the oldest space sci-fi movies ever. First Soviet blockbuster (the film was hugely popular). Interesting, in first place, due to its historical and cultural importance. Great photography and designs.

Solaris (Солярис). 1972. Another masterpiece by A. Tarkovsky, also providing a great insight into a human soul, this time more with space travel and love relationship flavour. Often seen as a rival of 2001 by S. Kubrick. Music by me.

Per Aspera Ad Astra (Через тернии к звёздам). 1981. It felt different from other teenager sci-fi movies like ”Amphibian Man” or ”Moscow-Cassiopeia” (or many others) that were hugely popular in USSR and could be considered a Soviet analogues to adventure movies of Steven Spielberg. ”Per Aspera Ad Astra” was weirder though… it features some very dark and scary scenes. This video clip wasn’t edited by me – a great guy David Dean Burkhart did it. Visit his amazing Youtube channel. He takes old footage of all kind and makes music videos for obscure indie pop songs.