Moscow-Cassiopeia (1974)
October 24, 2019 1:48 AM - Subscribe

A young student develops an interstellar engine that can reach near light speed and seeks to take a team of teens on a mission to Cassiopeia to check out the origins of a radio signal emanating from near the star. The mission requires teens as it is expected to take 50 years to complete.

This is the first part of a two part story which is completed in the film Teens in the Universe.
posted by gusottertrout (4 comments total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
The premise is pure anime, a group of young teens are chosen to set off across the galaxy to answer a radio signal sent from Cassiopeia while the leader of the crew is also caught up in wondering who wrote the anonymous love letter he received. The aesthetic is sort of like a Soviet design Star Trek TOS mixed with special effects that suggest both some 50's elements and a more "modern" 70s era take on science fiction.

This first movie is mostly about trying to get the project accepted by the authorities and in discussing the difficulties they may face, while young Viktor, the boy who developed the new space engine and will lead the crew, also tries to figure out which of his classmates wrote him a love letter. There is also the mysterious man, A.S.A. (Acting specifically as) who introduces the movie to us as being absolutely true events, true events that will happen next summer and will reappear throughout both movies helping the characters on their journey through some strange powers he wields.

Being a Soviet film, the movie takes the science part at least somewhat seriously and has a different take on the subject than you'll see in the US or Japan, but with some familiar enough elements, there's a nifty proto-holodeck for example. Recommended for fans of the genre who might be interested in seeing how "blockbuster" science fiction movies looked in the Soviet Union in an era just prior to Star Wars.

(A second post will follow for Teens in the Universe, the second part of the tale. Both movies are free to legally view on Youtube with English subtitles. You can find the first part here.)
posted by gusottertrout at 2:14 AM on October 24, 2019 [2 favorites]

This looks interesting, thank you.  I'd never want to go back to the cold war, but I kinda miss how something hugely popular in the West like pop sci-fi looked after passing it through the Soviet lens.

It appears both Moscow-Cassiopeia and Teenagers in the Universe are also available for download in multiple formats at the Internet Archive, but caption free, sadly.
posted by los pantalones del muerte at 9:49 AM on October 24, 2019 [1 favorite]

One of the really interesting things about Soviet movies, well, to me anyway, is that they aren't really equivalent to US films in terms of how they engage with Cold War ideology. Since Marxism suggests an inevitability of adopting that system and that a kind of harmony will ensue, Soviet films don't tend to place the US or west as enemies as much as point towards failures of ideology around capitalism and the decadence that accompanies it in more general terms.

In like fashion, the movies tend to not have the same plot beats one might expect from US films in how they develop situation and character. In Soviet films, particularly those aimed at general audiences or young people, the assumption is often that everyone is at least attempting to work towards the same ends in good faith, so many of the familiar emotional hooks around competition and antagonism from individual wants is simply elided, leaving the films perhaps feeling a bit more "cold" than one might be used to as they tend more towards "competence porn" in favoring "thinking" over "feeling" in the nature of the outside dilemmas, though not entirely ignoring feeling in regards to romance and the like, just using a different formula to resolve issues.

That, along with lower budgets and other quirks of Soviet life and technology give the movies their own flavor. I guess, in the case of these movies, maybe more Space: 1999 in tone than Star Trek, even though some of the incidental elements lean more towards the latter and the ideals of Trek have some sense of similarity.
posted by gusottertrout at 11:41 AM on October 24, 2019 [5 favorites]

I watched this over the weekend, and it's a pretty good movie. Slow (obviously), but the ideas are good, and it is a nice looking movie. Also nice that it is available on Youtube. :) Thanks for introducing me to this!
posted by Literaryhero at 4:47 PM on October 27, 2019 [1 favorite]

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