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Mediated Utopias: From Literature to Cinema


Artur Blaim and Ludmila Gruszewska-Blaim

The volume comprises adaptation studies of ten selected utopian/dystopian fictions written and filmed in Europe and America during the 20th and 21st centuries: Things to Come, Lost Horizon, Nineteen Eighty-Four, Lord of the Flies, The Andromeda Nebula, Brave New World, Total Recall, The Secret Garden, Harrison Bergeron and Never Let Me Go. It focuses not only on the ways of constructing fictional realities and techniques of rendering literary utopias/dystopias into film, but also on their cultural and political determinants.
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The World in (Dis)harmony: Yevgeni Sherstobitov’s The Andromeda Nebula: Andrzej Sławomir Kowalczyk


The World in (Dis)harmony: Yevgeni Sherstobitov’s The Andromeda Nebula


Yevgeni Sherstobitov’s 1967 film adaptation of Ivan Efremov’s once immensely popular utopian novel The Andromeda Nebula1 (1957) is the first and only part of an intended cycle. Whereas the book can be associated with the revival of interest in SF in the USSR2—one of the cultural effects of the Thaw (Russ. Ottepel)3—the film was made a decade later, during the period known in Russian as Zastoi (Stagnation), which formally began after Khrushchev’s death in 1964 and involved such ← 109 | 110 → phenomena as the tightening of censorship (e.g., the so-called ‘shelving’ of films4), the trial of dissidents, the psikhushki (psychiatric wards for political opponents), the Cold War and, last but not least, the space race (Beumers 46-47).5

Sherstobitov’s movie has been criticised as “an obscure and apparently unsuccessful Soviet adaptation of the classic Russian utopia” (Fitting 1), with superficiality, exaggeration and poor acting as its most conspicuous drawbacks (Wojnicka 121). To these weaknesses one must add rather careless montage and general problems with sequential logic, experienced particularly by the viewer unfamiliar with Efremov’s literary original. No wonder Sherstobitov’s Andromeda is utterly omitted or treated perfunctorily in recent major studies of the Soviet cinema of the period (cf. Woll; Hutchings and Vernitski; Beumers; Wojnicka), neglect which also confirms the film’s rather limited cultural effect. Nevertheless, from the vantage point of a student of literary and cinematic utopia, Andromeda...

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