Science Fiction has a way of promoting a strong sense of imagination, looking ahead and beyond what’s possible. The groundbreaking advancements in literature throughout the 20th century grew the Sci-Fi genre to unimaginable lengths, not just in the U.S. and the U.K.
Some of the greatest Sci-Fi films in history came from the Soviet Sci-Fi era. Led by the genius of Andrei Tarkovsky, Pavel Klushantsev, Konstantin Lopushansky, Vladimir Tarasov, and many others, these films are just as important as they were in the past.
Nevertheless, below will list off eight of what I feel are masterful Soviet Sci-Fi films. We’ll highlight the logline of each from IMDB and discuss what makes each of these films so great. Let’s take a look!
1. Stalker (1979)
Logline: A guide leads two men through an area known as the Zone to find a room that grants wishes.
Surreal imagery and epic in length Stalker is one of the trippiest films ever made. Its dramatic philosophical, and psychological themes run rampant throughout, evidently creating an impactful film for all to see.
2. Solaris (1972)
Logline: A psychologist is sent to a station orbiting a distant planet to discover what has caused the crew to go insane.
How can you discuss Soviet Sci-Fi without mentioning at least Two Tarkovsky films? Solaris is a haunting and slow-paced film that raises complex questions about humanity and the idea of existence.
3. Pilot Pirx’s Inquest (1978)
Logline: Commander Pirx leads five astronauts on a space mission to Saturn, and has to identify which one of the crew members is secretly a humanoid.
Being yet another film that discusses the idea of artificial versus humanity, Pilot Pirx’s Inquest is an impactful Sci-Fi film that will live on for years to come.
4. To the Stars by Hard Ways (Per Aspera Ad Astra) (1981)
Logline: A female creature created in space tries to live on earth and has special (and sometimes dangerous) powers.
Going off the familiar trope of a character being out of the ordinary from those around them, To the Stars by Hard Ways, also known as Humanoid Woman, is a solid Sci-Fi film more people should know about.
5. Zero City (Zerograd) (1988)
Logline: An engineer in charge of the production line of a factory in Moscow is sent to a small town inhabited by crazy people to specify to the distributor the new dimensions of a mechanic part they need.
Heavily combining elements of Sci-Fi and Comedy, Zero City, also known as Zerograd, is an excellent representation of how Sci-Fi doesn’t need to fall under the usual epic umbrella.
6. Battle Beyond the Sun (1959)
Logline: Two countries race to have the first successful landing on Mars.
Heavily utilizing the historical event of the space race and turning it into a futuristic setting of a space race for Mars, Battle Beyond the Sun is what many believed to be the future of humanity.
7. Kin-Dza-Dza! (1986)
Logline: Two Russians push the wrong button on a strange device and end up on the telepathic planet Pluke with its strange societal norms.
Kin-Dza-Dza! is a fantastic Sci-Fi dramedy that takes a simple premise of pressing the wrong button into a whacky two-hour-plus film.
8. Amphibian Man (1962)
Logline: People living in a seaside town are frightened by reports about an unknown creature in the ocean.
With parallels drawn to Guillermo Del Toro’s 2017 film The Shape of Water, Amphibian Man takes the classic Romeo and Juliet love-story trope into a Sci-Fi setting. Its focus on love, grief, greed and commercial exploitation live on to this day.