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Entry updated 5 May 2021. Tagged: Film.

Russian film (2020). Sony Pictures presents an Art Pictures Studio, Hype Film and Vodorod Pictures production in association with Fond kino. Directed by Egor Abramenko. Written by Oleg Malovichko and Andrei Zolotarev. Cast includes Oksana Akinshina, Fyodor Bondarchuk, Pyotr Fyodorov and Anton Vasiliev. 113 minutes. Colour.

A cosmonaut returns from orbit in 1983 with an Alien lifeform inside him (see Parasitism and Symbiosis).

"They have become completely symbiotic: they'll die without each other."

Tatyana Yuryevna Klimova (Akinshina), a controversial neurophysiologist and psychiatrist (see Medicine), is called to the All-Union Scientific Research Institute, a remote Prison and military facility, to examine cosmonaut Konstantin Veshnyakov (Fyodorov), the sole survivor of a two-man orbital mission that landed in Kazakhstan several weeks previously. Veshnyakov is harbouring a creature 30cm long in his stomach and oesophagus which grows to 1.5 metres every night when it emerges to feed on convicts fed to it by Colonel Semiradov (Bondarchuk), a military commander who hopes to turn it into a Weapon of the Cold War. The creature stimulates the release of the stress hormone cortisol in its prey in order to feed on their fear. "I am that creature, without morals or obligations," Veshnyakov tells Klimova, who draws both the creature and Veshnyakov into her confidence by use of diagnostics, music and a toy (see Toys in SF) before staging an escape with the help of Nobel-winning Scientist Yan Rigel (Vasiliev).

Where the Aliens in Alien (1979) and The Thing (1982) said something about the behaviour of a species intent on survival, and those in Solaris (1971) and Under the Skin (2013) about the human condition itself, the conduct of the alien in Sputnik fails to say much about either its 1983 setting or the behaviour of the human beings seeking to exploit it. There is no examination of where the lifeform came from, or of what it intends beyond feeding on human beings. The Brutalist fixtures and fittings of the Shemyakin-Ovchinnikov Institute of Bioorganic Chemistry, where much of Sputnik was filmed, generate a good deal of Paranoia, however, and the relationship between Klimova and Veshnyakov is much more persuasive than that of Veshnyakov and the alien, which comes across rather more as a B-movie Villain than a metaphor for cold-war Psychology. See Horror in SF for the tendency of science fiction Cinema to produce Monster Movies. [MD]


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