Russian animated film (1988; vt The Pass; vt The Path). Soyuzmultfilm. Directed by Vladimir Tarasov. Written by Kir Bulychev based on his excerpted novella "Pereval" ["The Pass"] (July-November 1980 Znanie-Sila) whose full text was published as Poselok (1988; trans John H Costello as Those Who Survive 2000). Voice cast includes Aleksandr Kaydanovskiy (narrator) and Aleksandr Pashutin. 30 minutes. Colour.
When the research Spaceship Polus crashes, its survivors flee to avoid the radiation leakage; they settle and make a home on the harsh alien world. Every few years some trek to the wreck, traversing a perilous mountain pass, to see if its radiation levels have fallen – but none have returned. Now, sixteen years on, four try again – the adult, Thomas (Pashutin), plus teenagers Oleg, Mariana and Dick. Thomas dies en route, but the other three reach the spaceship, discovering the radiation levels are now safe. They find, but do not know how to operate, the Communications system – but Oleg declares he will take the ship's library back to the village and learn how to contact Earth. They journey home.
The story is bleak – the survivors are barely hanging on in an environment that recalls the icy Russian hinterlands, with Alien Monsters instead of wolves and bears – but it has a hopeful ending. The film mainly uses limited colour – though a fuller palette is used for some ship scenes, such as when Oleg enters his parents' old room. The animation is the most memorable aspect of the work, dominated by starkness and flickering lights: a combination of Salvador Dalí, medieval woodcuts and (monochrome) psychedelia; stylistic nods to old black-and-white Pulp sf Illustrations may be detected. The ship and its innards are geometric and bizarre, bearing no semblance to a traditional spaceship. Appreciation of the soundtrack will depend on the listener's fondness for melodramatic rock with classical pretensions. Though a little stiff at times, this is an impressive, noteworthy film. [SP]