Russian documentary film (1957; vt Road to the Stars). Leningrad Popular Science Film Studio. Directed by Pavel Klushantsev, starring Georgi Solovyov and other unidentified actors. Written by Boris Lyapunov and Vasili Solovyov. 52 minutes. Colour.
This documentary begins with an extended look at the life of Konstantin Tsiolkovsky (Solovyov), explaining how this visionary Scientist first devised practical methods to achieve Space Flight in the early twentieth century. As a schoolteacher, he leads boys in launching a balloon, then explains the basic principle of rocketry to a boy on a boat by throwing objects from the boat and causing the boat to move in the opposite direction. This leads to a key insight about developing a rocket that could propel a Spaceship into space. He further figures out that, by effectively placing three rockets on top of each other, one could construct a multi-stage rocket that could reach escape velocity. Then, after a series of scenes showing later researchers experimenting with bigger and bigger rockets, a reference to the launch of Sputnik leads into depictions of significant accomplishments in space to come in the near future. First, there is a three-man orbital flight which includes a brief walk in space by a spacesuited astronaut who tumbles freely in the void of space. Next, an astronaut helps to construct a large Space Station which becomes home to several men, women, and a cat; there, one briefly sees a spacesuited astronomer looking through a telescope in space. Finally, a craft is launched from the space station to the Moon, and the film concludes with the ship landing on the Moon, one cosmonaut taking the first steps on the lunar surface, and two cosmonauts standing next to their spaceship and gesturing triumphantly.
As one might expect in a documentary, there is little drama in its fictional sequences, depicting three anticipated Soviet triumphs in space, but there are points of interest nevertheless: a well-rendered spacewalk which concludes with a long shot of a tiny astronaut standing on his spaceship as it orbits the Earth; a brief sequence showing the construction of a space station; and several scenes showing everyday life in the space station, including women watching a ballet on television and a cat looking out a window. Its director, Pavel Klushantsev, went on to film a similar documentary about inhabiting the Moon, Luna, as well as the sf film Planeta Bur (1962; vt Planet of Storms; vt Storm Planet; vt Cosmonauts on Venus), which became the basis for the American films Voyage to the Prehistoric Planet (1965) and Voyage to the Planet of Prehistoric Women (1968). [GW]
see also: Space Documentaries.