Voyage to the End of the Universe (Ikarie XB-1)

Dir Jindřich Polák.

Dir. Jindřich Polák. 1963, 88 mins. Imported 35mm print from the Czech Film Archive. With Zdeněk Štěpánek, František Smolík, Dana Medřická. In Czech with English subtitles. Ikarie XB-1 is an ambitious science fiction space opera, possibly best known for prefiguring many visual and thematic motifs of Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey. This “Space Marienbad,” as one critic called it, perfectly epitomises an era defined by a raging space race and cultural competition between the East and the West. The film portrays an idealised communist civilisation circa 2163, as it embarks on a voyage beyond our solar system. Its real protagonist is a monumental discovery spaceship Ikarie, a self-contained world in miniature designed to impress an international audience with its vision of a highly advanced lifestyle, as imagined by a small socialist country. Like the rest of the film, its 22nd-century costumes are steeped in the ideology of utopianism, something that is especially driven home when “ancient people” of the twentieth century are discovered on a derelict ship deep in space.