I have recently had the pleasure of discovering the unusual Czech film, 'Ikarie XB 1'. I had heard of the film, but not had the chance to view it until the release of the Second Run DVD. I am keen on the science fiction literature generated by the communist states during the Cold War, and I was not disappointed by this celluloid epic from the same period.
If you have not seem the film, I urge you to do so - it is a bargain price from both Second Run DVD direct and Amazon. The picture quality is great and there is an interesting appreciation by Kim Newman also on the disc...
...however, from this website, for a few extra pounds, you can order the film and also receive a limited edition print from a special set of four inspired by scenes from the movie. These four designs were made by myself (Autun Purser) and my father (Keith Purser), a rather more famous artist, a selection of whose work can be seen HERE.
These prints were prepared by the traditional manual techniques of woodcut, linocut, drybrush stencil and multilayer stencil. The designs are presented below, as well as an order slip in case you would like to order a DVD / print bundle.
SPECIAL DVD OFFER - Movie DVD plus art print
In collaboration with Second Run DVD we have produced a series of four limited edition prints (12x18cm in size, to fit within a DVD slipcase!) based on the movie. These prints are limited to edition sizes of 12, and with each DVD purchase from this website, one of these prints will be dispatched to you.
The prints are introduced below , and can be ordered together with the DVD for 20 GBP, including worldwide shipping.
ESCAPE FROM 'TORNADO' - Click image to enlarge
DANCING IN SPACE - Click image to enlarge
DARK SUN AND SUNFLOWER - Click image to enlarge
THE GREEN PLANET - Click image to enlarge
IKARIE XB 1 - Character posters
IKARIE XB 1 - Astrogator and the Green Planet
'Ikarie XB 1' is a film in which an array of extremely interesting faces are lingered on, in close up. This has made the production of this series of images easier than it might have been.
The cast ranges in age from the 20s to the 60s, as might be expected on a ship where both heavy lifting and space walks are required in addition to deep ruminations on history, philosophy and astrogation.
In this image I have drawn Olga Schoberová, an extra in this movie who went on to a glorious career in fleshy treats such as 'The Vengance of She'... In 'Ikarie XB 1' she appears in the disco scene (surely one of the most intense and unusual visual attempts to capture future dance techniques) with the wonderful Dr Anthony Hopkins, and looks into the camera occasionally from what I can only assume is some sort of astrogation console - A symbol of the ship moves across the light indicators.
In this image the ship is in orbit around the Green Planet, at the end of the voyage. As the clouds clear it almost looks like the whole planet is covered by city. We are not talking 'Trantor' levels of construction, as there seems to be sections of rivers still visible, with the banks wholly choked by wharfs and jettys. Away from the rivers, the land seems to be covered in a semi-regular grid of housing, LA style. Over all, a mass of transport roads (?) have been draped. These last few minutes of the movie are masterful, you are almost sure you can tell what you are looking at, but you also feel you may have got it all totally wrong...
...Kubrick thieved this whole section for his trip through the stargate. There are no
two ways about it. He probably thought he could get away with such larceny as there were no home video or DVD solutions in the 60s, and 'Ikarie XB 1' was not only foreign, but foreign from behind the
Iron Curtain. Thanks to SECOND RUN DVD he has now been busted... His 'borrowing', as some reviewers put it, does not end
with that scene. I mean, there is even the bloody space baby in 'Ikarie XB 1'!
IKARIE XB 1 - ...ANTHONY...?
Anthony Hopkins, the chief mathematician on the 'Ikarie' has great faith in his robotic companion. The rest of the crew think the cybernetic assistant is a bit of a joke. They are basically right.
During a radiation storm the crew are rendered unconscious. The robot roams the halls hopelessly calling for its friend. Lem probably approved of this bit of the movie, he loved a ponder on artificial intelligence and cybernetics.
IKARIE XB 1 - Michal and the Dark Star
A strength of 'Ikarie XB 1' is that the human crew are incapable of deducing every intricacy of the hazards met. Most 21st century movie spacefarers have the workings of alien ships, celestial mechanics, atmospheres and civilizations summed up between the first romantic dalliance and space shootout. In 'Ikarie XB 1', almost nothing is determined with absolute proof.
In many of his books, Stanislaw Lem's human explorers become progressively more frustrated by their lack of ability to understand the alien. Their belief that they will somehow get a handle on things is usually firm, even in the face of failure and / or death ('The Invincible' and 'Fiasco' being prime examples). Even in 'The Magellanic Cloud', an early book of his, on which 'Ikarie XB 1' is based, he was keen on this theme...
Michal was outside the 'Ikarie' when the Dark Star was first encountered. Whether the radioactive attack on the ship was directed by some sort of sentient planetary body (a nice reference to 'Star Maker' by Stapledon, surely) or mere chance we never find out...
Here is Michal trying to get off the ship... I try and show the radioactive rays piercing the ship etc with the design.