The Polish sci-fi author Stanislaw Lem is something of a cult celebrity. His stories have inspired several good movies, including three versions of Solaris (in particular Tarkovskij’s splendid adaptation from 1972).
Not one of his best-known works (but still interesting), The Magellanic Clouds is the basis for the Czech film Ikarie XB 1.
The film is about a pioneer space flight to the Alpha Centauri system, two hundred years into the future. The world at that point is a communist Utopia, and the forty-man crew depart in search of extra-terrestrial life. But the there are many dangers ahead of them.
Ikarie XB 1 comes complete with some heavy-handed anti-capitalist propaganda. Though it is no worse than the corresponding anti-communist messages in some Hollywood films from about the same period.
Like Battle Beyond the Sun and many other sci-fi films from behind the iron curtain, Ikarie XB 1 was released in the US in a slaughtered and dubbed version, with a new ending and generally much worse than the original. The title of this abomination was the bland Voyage to the End of the Universe. Fortunately, the original version, subtitled in English, is the one to be found at the Internet Archive.
This film is best enjoyed if you prefer the psychological and philosophical kind of science fiction that was more common in the East during the Cold War. The tempo is slow and the plot is somewhat splintered, but that matters little, for the focus is on character development and interaction. Great stuff!
Ikarie XB 1
Language: Czech (English subtitles)
Running time: 1 h 23 min
Director: Jindřich Polák
Stars: Zdeněk Štěpánek, Radovan Lukavský, František Smolík
Image quality: Good
Resolution: Medium (852×360)
Sound quality: Good
Best file format: MPEG 4 (493 M)