1867ikars3One of the things I love about these Eastern Bloc science fiction films from the early 60s is the air of moment that hangs around them. Unlike American sci-fi films of the era, which were more often than not throwaway drive-in fare, these movies were a major undertaking for the countries that produced them, and were not only intended to be an expression of national pride, but also a source of it.

Of course, you wouldn’t know that from the versions of them that eventually made it to theater screens here in the U.S. Radically edited to eliminate all evidence of their communist origins and frequently retaining little of their original footage beyond their special effects sequences. However, one such film, Czechoslovakia’s Ikarie XB-1, managed to make it to these shores relatively intact. Picked up by American International, the film was released under the title Voyage to the End of the Universe and paired on a double bill with Godzilla vs. The Thing. Unfortunately, those few alterations that AIP did make to the film make Voyage to the End of the Universe stand out as an example of how even the slightest changes can sometimes effect a major difference in a movie’s overall tone and meaning.

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