On the threshold of 22nd century, furrowing the space, protagonist from the Free Search Group makes emergency landing on an unknown planet where he must stay. People who are living on this planet have remained at the stone level of the 20th century, with its social problems, miserable ecology and shaky world…
User Reviews: This attempt at bringing a Strugatski brothers novel to the modern Russian screen is without a doubt a success.
A little about the plot: young explorer Maksim Kammerer crash lands on Sarakhsh, a world enveloped by nebula gasses where people have never seen the stars. The Unknown Fathers, a group of powerful oligarchs, brainwash the population to hate other nations. Kammerer, aloof in his superiority, sets out to free the people of Sarahksh of oppression and paranoia.
I wont ramble on – suffice to say that Bondarchuk has done well, considering the sheer scale of the novel. Vasiliy Stepanov (as Maksim Kammerer) is sexy, cool and a blond head taller than his alien companions (a fine nod to the novel and a detail I did not expect). He was also most excellent in the action scenes.
Bondarchuk shines in his portrayal of Umnik (literally the Clever One). I especially enjoyed the scenes of him writhing in agony in the bath. A great performance. I feel compelled, after reading some of the other comments, to say that the novel, like this movie, is often comical…
Direction-wise there are some minor continuity errors and a few places where the pace slows unexpectedly, but the film sticks quite closely to the novel and this may not have been avoidable.
Compared Konstantin Lopushansky’s 2006 adaptation of Gadkie Lebedi (highly recommended to scifi fans, this brooding picture seems to have slipped the under the radar), the film is of course rather crude and soulless – but that would be like comparing a novel by Banks to one by Lem.
I recommend it to everyone and will be waiting for film two (the adaptation can only be truly judged then) and a directors cut of the two together in a nice Hollywood package.