Planeta Burg (Planet of Storms)

Year: 1962

Production: Leningrad Studio of Popular Science Films

Director: Pavel Klushantsev

Starring: Gennadi Vernov, Vladimir Temelianov, Yuri Sarantsev, Georgi Zhonov, Kyunna Ignatova

Screenwriter: Pavel Klushantsev, Alexander Kazantsev

74 minutes; Color

Discounting Kosmitchesky Reis (1935) for its heavy socialist-realism and Stalinism, Planeta Burg is the only truly well made and visually exciting Russian space travel film between Aelita (1924) and Solaris (1972), far better than the stodgy version of Efremov's classic story Tumannost Andromedy (1968). Three spacecraft set out for Venus, two arrive, one commanded by Caotain Masha (Ignatova) which remains in orbit and one that lands on the planet. The rest is a fast-paced adventure story, told with considerable humor, involving volcanic eruptions, giant animals and hostile plants. The sets are stunningly designed with outlandish color schemes rendering the uncanny alienness of the Venusian landscapes as well as the spectacular aspects of space travel itself. The appearance of a Venusian is wisely delayed to the very end, and even then only suggested as being "just like us". As in all popular space operas, there is a robot (called John) who occasionally goes out of control. Here he is given to talking gibberish and playing forties dance music, a more appropriate musical accompaniment to space fantasies than the monumentally majestic waltz of 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968). The result is the best straightfoward, unpretentious sf space travel movie made in the USSR.

As happened with Zeman's Cesta do Praveku (1955), an American producer, in this case Roger Corman, bought the film. Curtis Harrington and Peter Bogdanovich were hired to cannibalize large chunks of the Soviet film, which were dubbed and combined with newly shot material starring Basil Rathbone and Faith Domergue. The results were released directly to tv as Voyage to a Prehistoric Planet (1965). Bogdanovich also used the Soviet footage for his tv film, Voyage to the Planet of Prehistoric Women (1966), which had additional scenes with Mamie Van Doren and assorted bathing beauties.

The Overlook Film Encyclopedia - Science Fiction

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