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Mechte Navstrechu

Entry updated 23 February 2017. Tagged: Film.

["Meeting a Dream Halfway"] Film (1963; vt A Dream Come True; vt Encounter in Space). Odessa Studios. Directed by Mikhail Karzhukov and Otar Koberidze. Written by Mikhail Karzhukov and Otar Koberidze, based on a draft screenplay by A Berdnik and Ivan Bondin. Cast includes Boris Borisenko, A Genesin, Larisa Gordeichik, Peeter Kard, Otar Koberidze, T Pochepa, Nikolai Timofeyev and Nikolai Volkov. 64 minutes. Colour.

On a Utopian future Earth, cosmonaut Andrei Sayenko (Borisenko) sings a song he has written about Space Flight to his lover Tanya Krilova (Gordeichik); upon hearing the song, Aliens on the distant planet Centuria decide to visit Earth. When their Spaceship encounters problems and is forced to land on Mars, they send a video message to Earth, which inspires humans to send a rescue mission, with a crew that includes Tanya but not Andrei. After dealing with the effects of a solar surge, the rescue ship is able to land on Mars but does not have enough fuel to take off again. Crew members then discover an alien ship with a single dead passenger and surmise that other aliens must have left the scene in another spaceship. A second spaceship with Andrei on board is soon sent to Mars, which releases some observation satellites to assist in the search and lands on the Martian moon Phobos, where they discover the posited second spaceship containing a beautiful alien woman, Etinaya (Pochepa), who is barely alive. Leaving Andrei behind to die, the other cosmonaut, Ivan Batalov (Koberidze), takes the woman to the surface of Mars, and after a perilous trek through a Martian sandstorm, he and the woman reach the first spaceship, which takes off and successfully returns to Earth. A final scene suggests that the whole story was only Tanya's dream.

Mechte Navstrechu is burdened by some heavy-handed propaganda, including the unsympathetic character of American scientist Laungton (Volkov), who inappropriately fears that the benign aliens might be hostile and menacing. Yet this is otherwise a stately, beautifully photographed film with especially impressive sets: the future Earth is dominated by immense structures and statues, Centauria is a shadowy but colourful world filled with enigmatic spherical devices (the aliens' spaceships are also spheres), and Mars and Phobos are appropriately barren and inhospitable. The interesting concept that Music might represent the best way to communicate with aliens later resurfaced in Cinema (Close Encounters of the Third Kind) and real life (the CD of Earth's music prepared by Carl Sagan that was placed in the Voyager space probes). Like Karzhukov's earlier film Nebo Zovyot, Mechte Navstrechu emphasizes both the joys and the perils of space travel, featuring another cosmonaut who sacrifices his own life to save others, and projects a positive message about beneficial cooperation involving different civilizations, here civilizations on other planets instead of civilizations on Earth. It is quite unfortunate that this film is mostly known to Western audiences solely because much of its footage was used in Curtis Harrington's very different, and inferior, American version of the film, Queen of Blood (1966). [GW]


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