Virtual Screening Room: Ikarie XB-1

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1963 • dir Jindřich Polák • 86 min

A visionary work of Eastern Bloc science fiction, this mesmerizing Czechoslovak adaptation of a novel by Stanisław Lem melds Cold War ideology and utopian futurism into a tour de force of space-age modernism. In the year 2163, a band of astronauts embarks on a fifteen-year voyage deep into outer space, in hopes of discovering life in another galaxy. It’s a perilous journey during which they will confront the wreckage of the twentieth century, the chilling vastness of the cosmos, and their own mortality. A triumph of avant-garde production design that served as a model for Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey, IKARIE XB-1 – long known internationally only through a mangled and dubbed re-edit – is a singular sci-fi landmark that finds both terror and wonder in the unknown. – Janus Films

“A classic of Eastern Bloc filmmaking, it vividly summons that early thrill of discovery – and dread of the unknown – that the space programme once invoked.”
– John Nugent, The Skinny

“Remains one of the most original and exciting science fiction films ever made… packed with sublime moments unlike those of any film preceding it. A game-changing film that profoundly influenced the genre and showed that science-fiction movies weren’t only about special effects; they were also high art.”
– Alex Cox, The Guardian

“Polák’s groundbreaking celestial saga is every bit as impressive today as it was in 1963. Don’t tell me Kubrick missed this one…”
– Joe Dante