The Heavens Call | Chicago Reader

The Heavens Call

Noble Soviet cosmonauts blast off for Mars, racing dirty American capitalists to plant the first flag on the red planet. Released in 1960, this state-sponsored sci-fi epic from the USSR is marred by stuffy propaganda and phlegmatic acting, but the special-effects sequences are spellbinding, with highly detailed models and magnificent space ballets that anticipate the grandeur of 2001. For decades this has been available in the U.S. only as Battle Beyond the Sun, a Roger Corman release that was dubbed and recut by a young Francis Coppola; in its original form, it's both a document of the space race and, to some extent, a part of it. Mikhail Karyukov and Aleksandr Kozyr directed; in Russian with subtitles. 80 min.

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