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Jindrich Polak ) Ikarie XB-1


If one were asked about film adaptations of Stanislaw Lem’s work, the obvious choice would be Andrei Tarkovsky’s Solaris. It wouldn’t be the only option however. Filmed in 1961 by Czech director Jindřich Polák, Ikarie XB-1 draws from Lem’s work The Magellanic Cloud and as one would expect from a film derived from Lem’s writing it concerns itself less with propulsive action and more with meditative concerns like the ability of the human mind to cope with the rigors of long-term space travel.

The crew of the Ikarie XB-1 have been sent on a mission to explore planetary bodies in the Alpha Centauri system and the film charts an episodic narrative about the challenges they encounter. Even though the film looks every bit what you’d expect from a 1961 Eastern European production there’s no doubt Polák uses what he’s got in an effective manner. Before too long you’re well past trying to forgive the film’s limitations and find yourself simply immersed in the ship’s voyage.

Originally released in the US under the title Voyage to the End of the Universe, it wasn’t until 2005 that a properly translated version of the film was made widely available in America.


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