Blu-Ray Review: Ikarie XB-1

Space, the final frontier. Man’s imagination has been turned upwards for centuries. Dreaming of boldly going where no man has gone before. The thought of travelling beyond the stars has driven the creative juices of generations of writers and film-makers. Intergalactic adventures aren’t just about space racoons and exterminating dustbins. The thought of exploring the heavens often prompts questions about what it is to be human. Jindrich Polák’s 1963 film Ikarie XB-1 is a meditation on existence and a superior intellectual science-fiction

In the year 2163, the starship Ikarie XB-1 is on its way to the system of Alpha Centauri on a mission to locate extra-terrestrial life. The largely scientific crew have been tasked with studying a mysterious white planet which is orbiting the star. During the trip they must struggle with adapting to life in space, deal with the mental breakdown of one of the crew, overcome a radioactive dark star and discover a hazardous 20th century spaceship.

Based on an early novel by Stanisław Lem, one of the greatest science fiction writers of the last century, Ikarie XB-1 is a thoughtful, inventive and beautifully crafted film. Utilising some brilliant special effects, it’s one of the best Eastern European space films of the 20th century. It was hugely influential, with clear echoes in Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey and the original Star Trek series. Ikarie XB-1 is a pioneering work of cinema and a wonderfully realised treatise on the nature of life.

Special features:

• Presented from a new 4K restoration of the film from original materials by the Czech National Film Archive.

• A filmed appreciation by author and critic Kim Newman.

• The Most Ordinary of Occupations (Nejvšednější povolání, 1963) – a short film about science and mathematics by Josef Kořán.

• Voyage to the End of the Universe – opening credits and end-sequence from the alternative, dubbed US version.

• Booklet featuring a substantial essay by writer and film historian Michael Brooke.

• Ikarie XB 1 trailer.

• Voyage to the End of the Universe trailer.

• Image gallery.

• Region Free Blu-ray (A/B/C)

• Easter egg

Ikarie XB-1 is released on DVD and Blu-ray by Second Run on 25 March.

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