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
ANDRZEJ SŁAWOMIR KOWALCZYK
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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