“First, inevitably, the idea, the fantasy, the fairy tale. Then, scientific calculation. Ultimately, fulfillment crowns the dream.” These words by Konstantin Tsiolkovsky, Russian pioneer of astronautics theory, perfectly describe the early Soviet sci-fi film “Road to the Stars.” It was released in 1957 shortly after the launch of the first artificial Earth satellite and 4 years prior to Yuri Gagarin's flight, and tells the story of man’s conquest of outer space. From Tsiolkovsky’s idea of interplanetary travel to the first spacewalk to the construction of an orbital station and the exploration of the moon, the film blends the basics of rocket science, historical details and pure imagination to create its compelling prophecy.
This film is not only a visionary tale of our future. It is also unique gem of cinematic history. The film’s visual special effects and zero-gravity trick, invented by director Pavel Klushantsev, inspired Stanley Kubrick to create his sci-fi classic “2001: A Space Odyssey” and George Lucas to create the pop-culture phenomenon “Star Wars.” Both directors were strongly influenced by the Soviet director’s work – look at that rotating space station and beautifully painted planetary backdrops, for example. And Klushantsev’s purely fictional feature “Planet of Storms,” although heavily re-edited and re-dubbed, was even released in the United States in 1965 under a different name and greatly influenced what was thought possible in moviemaking.
But what’s most important is the film’s message. Klushantsev started out as a director of scientific and educational films, but his later work was a radical attempt to break free from genre restrictions and reach a wider audience. “Road to the Stars” is not a simple recitation and illustration of scientific facts, but rather a meditation on humanity’s future, enriched by science, solidarity and hard work.