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Before 2001 - Pavel Klushantsev’s classic science fiction film ‘The Road to the Stars’
01.20.2011
06:20 pm
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Scenes from Road to the Stars and 2001, side-by-side.
 
Film-maker Alessandro Cima has posted some fascinating clips from Pavel Klushantsev’s classic 1957 Russian science-fiction film The Road to the Stars, over at Candlelight Stories. Forget Kubrick’s 2001 for as Cima explains, Klushantsev’s masterpiece was the first and arguably the better of the two films.

Pavel Klushantsev’s 1957 film, Road to the Stars, features astoundingly realistic special effects that were an inspiration and obvious blueprint for Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey ten years later.  The film is an extended form of science education, building upon existing 1950s technology to predict space exploration of the future.  The sequences with astronauts in zero gravity are incredibly realistic.  The second excerpt from the film features the construction of and life aboard a space station in earth orbit that is not only convincing but also beautiful.  There are several scenes with space station dwellers using videophones that anticipate the famous Kubrick videophone scene.

Watching these short clips now, it is no surprise that The Road to the Stars has been described as:

...one of the most amazing special effects accomplishments in film history.

However, Klushantsev faced considerable difficulties in making such an effects-heavy film, at one point being asked by one Communist Party bureaucrat why he didn’t make a film about factory manufacturing or beetroot production, but as Klushantsev explained:

The Road to the Stars proved to me I did the right thing thing, one must envisage the future. People should be able to see life can be changed radically.

Klushantsev started work on the film in 1954, and liaised thru-out with Russia’s leading space program scientists, Mikhail Tikhonravov and Sergey Korolyov, to achieve accuracy with his own designs - from space suits, to cabin temperature and rocket design. Indeed, everything in Klushantsev’s film had to at least have an element of possiblity and it is this factual core that gave Klushantsev’s film a documentary-like feel. The film coincided with the launch of Russia’s robotic spacecraft, Sputnik, and led the previously antagonistic Russian bureaucrats to “foam at the mouth” and demand The Road to the Stars include shots of of the satellite in the film.
 

 
Bonus clips, plus short making-of documentary, after the jump…
 

READ ON
Posted by Paul Gallagher
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01.20.2011
06:20 pm
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Cowboys and Aliens Trailer
11.17.2010
06:52 pm
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Well, the jury’s out until next year on the film, but here’s the trailer for Jon (Iron Man) Favreau’s latest Cowboys and Aliens, based on the graphic novel by Scott Mitchell Rosenberg, Fred Van Lente and Andrew Foley. The film stars Daniel Craig, Harrison Ford, Olivia Wilde, Sam Rockwell, Adam Beach, Paul Dano, and Noah Ringer.

1873. Arizona Territory. A stranger with no memory of his past stumbles into the hard desert town of Absolution. The only hint to his history is a mysterious shackle that encircles one wrist. What he discovers is that the people of Absolution don’t welcome strangers, and nobody makes a move on its streets unless ordered to do so by the iron-fisted Colonel Dolarhyde. It’s a town that lives in fear.
But Absolution is about to experience fear it can scarcely comprehend as the desolate city is attacked by marauders from the sky. Screaming down with breathtaking velocity and blinding lights to abduct the helpless one by one, these monsters challenge everything the residents have ever known.

Now, the stranger they rejected is their only hope for salvation. As this gunslinger slowly starts to remember who he is and where he’s been, he realizes he holds a secret that could give the town a fighting chance against the alien force. With the help of the elusive traveler Ella, he pulls together a posse comprised of former opponents – townsfolk, Dolarhyde and his boys, outlaws and Apache warriors – all in danger of annihilation. United against a common enemy, they will prepare for an epic showdown for survival.

 

 
Via liveforfilms
 

Posted by Paul Gallagher
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11.17.2010
06:52 pm
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Happy Birthday J. G. Ballard
11.15.2010
05:35 pm
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James Graham Ballard was born today in 1930. 

In a career that spanned 6 decades, the Visionary of Shepperton wrote some of the best and most important speculative fiction of the past century, from The Drought, The Drowned World through Crash, The Atrocity Exhibition, High Rise, and The Unlimited Dream Company to Empire of he Sun, Super Cannes and Kingdom Come.

His death last year robbed the literary world of one of its most thoughtful and original thinkers.

This in-depth interview with Ballard was filmed in 2006, as part of Melvyn Bragg’s The South Bank Show and covered the writers background, influences and unique, dystopian vision:

Ranging from his earliest experiences living in China as a child and subsequent imprisonment by the invading Japanese army, through his early and wholly abortive career in medicine - though he says that that experience was totally beneficial to his writing career and that everyone should spend at least some time studing anatomy. Then on through his long career as a full time writer. Starting in 1962 when he gave up his then job as an assistant editor right up to the present day.

Subjects covered are the influence of Surrealist painting in the imagery of his work. How the sudden death of his wife affected his life, work and family. And the impact of his most controversial novel, Crash, which inspired one publisher’s reader to write “This author is beyond psychiatric help. Do not publish” - which Ballard took as a huge compliment.

Other contributions in the show come from the likes of Will Self, Iain Sinclair and Martin Amis, all of whom are confirmed Ballard fans.

 

 
The full interview with J. G. Ballard after the jump…
 

READ ON
Posted by Paul Gallagher
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11.15.2010
05:35 pm
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‘Liquid Sky’: Adventures of an Orgasm-Addict
09.24.2010
07:13 pm
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You are an alien. You have traveled across galaxies and you have now arrived on earth. New York. Sometime in the futuristic 1980s - you get the picture. Your needs are simple: drugs - and plenty of them. You’re lucky, you have arrived atop the apartment of a drug-addled model, Margaret, and her drug-addicted partner Jimmy. You’ve found where to get drugs.

You observe Margaret and her friends.  Then you discover something better: sex and drugs. For when humans cum their brains produce the very essence of the drug you seek. To obtain it, you have to kill them at their moment of orgasm. And guess what? Margaret can’t climax which is good news for you but bad news for her. Margaret is raped by a rancid creep. The rapist dies just as he comes. Margaret thinks she’s an avenging angel, who can “kill with her cunt” But really you are the killer and you know you’re just a drug-addled inter-planetary orgasm-addict.

 
More on ‘Liquid Sky’ and bonus clips after the jump…
 

READ ON
Posted by Paul Gallagher
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09.24.2010
07:13 pm
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io9: Most Anticipated SF Books of 2010
11.20.2009
02:37 am
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io9 reports on the top 20 most anticipated science fiction books of 2010, including new offerings from Ian MacDonald, China Mi?ɬ

Posted by Jason Louv
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11.20.2009
02:37 am
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Michael Moorcock: “Starship Stormtroopers”
08.25.2009
01:26 am
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Great 1978 essay from the Cienfuegos Press Anarchist Review where sainted SF writer Michael Moorcock takes a heavy swing at right-wing science fiction writers and fans. Great stuff in here.

An anarchist is not a wild child, but a mature, realistic adult imposing laws upon the self and modifying them according to an experience of life, an interpretation of the world. A ‘rebel’, certainly, he or she does not assume ‘rebellious charm’ in order to placate authority (which is what the rebel heroes of all these genre stories do). There always comes the depressing point where Robin Hood doffs a respectful cap to King Richard, having clobbered the rival king. This sort of implicit paternalism is seen in high relief in the currently popular Star Wars series which also presents a somewhat disturbing anti-rationalism in its quasi-religious ‘Force’ which unites the Jedi Knights (are we back to Wellsian ‘samurai’ again?) and upon whose power they can draw, like some holy brotherhood, some band of Knights Templar. Star Wars is a pure example of the genre (in that it is a compendium of other people’s ideas) in its implicit structure—quasi-children, fighting for a paternalistic authority, win through in the end and stand bashfully before the princess while medals are placed around their necks.

Star Wars carries the paternalistic messages of almost all generic adventure fiction (may the Force never arrive on your doorstep at three o’clock in the morning) and has all the right characters. It raises ‘instinct’ above reason (a fundamental to Nazi doctrine) and promotes a kind of sentimental romanticism attractive to the young and idealistic while protective of existing institutions. It is the essence of a genre that it continues to promote certain implicit ideas even if the author is unconscious of them. In this case the audience also seems frequently unconscious of them.

(Link here.)

Posted by Jason Louv
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08.25.2009
01:26 am
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District 9: Goddamned Good Science Fiction
08.23.2009
07:18 pm
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Apparently people are losing their shit over “District 9.” Deservedly so. I caught it last night and it’s got to be one of the best science fiction movies I’ve ever seen, and probably the best movie I’ve seen this year, too.

The big hype this weekend was for “Inglourious Basterds,” which was good (well-made, though rather questionable revenge pornography… like a big-screen version of “Wolfenstein 3D”), which I saw, and then decided to go see “District 9” the next day because it’s hot as hell in LA and why not. And oh my dear lord. You cannot be prepared for this movie. I won’t say too much about it?

Posted by Jason Louv
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08.23.2009
07:18 pm
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