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A landmark in Eastern European science fiction, the cool, modernist Ikarie XB-1 won several international awards for its clinically intellectual approach to the genre, an approach that seemingly cleared the way for such future works as Tarkovsky’s Solaris. Pavel Jurácek’s prescient script involves themes that would later appear in other classics of the genre: the dehumanizing chill of space travel (2001), for instance, or the discovery of a ship of the dead and the horror that awaits therein (Alien). Ikarie XB-1 follows the crew of a spaceship as they contact an abandoned craft, then go slowly, steadily insane. The black-and-white ’Scope photography creates a sense of cold, claustrophobic madness, prowling through the film’s architectural sets as if looking for something, anything, life-like, yet disturbingly finding only steel. The film was purchased by Roger Corman’s American International Pictures, where it was chopped up, dubbed, and rereleased to some cult success as Voyage to the End of the Universe.

—Jason Sanders

  • Year
  • Runtime
    88 minutes
  • Language
  • Country
  • Director
    Jindrich Polák
  • Screenwriter
    Jindrich Polák, Pavel Jurácek
  • Cast
    Zdenek Stepánek, Radovan Lukavsky, Dana Medrická, Miroslav Machácek
  • Cinematographer
    Jan Kalis