11 December 2012

Space Visitors - Part One (Russian Science-Fiction Short Animation 1981)

Space Visitors - Part One (Kosmicheskie prishelcy) [Russian Science-Fiction Animation English Subtitles 1981]

IMDb entry should appear soon.

Original Translation By Pashka Geraskin
English Translation Revised By Kosmikino

Though the screenplay was jointly written by the late Arkady Strugatsky who along with his brother Boris are the most famous science-fiction writers of Russian origin, this animation remains virtually unknown outside of Russia and Eastern Europe.

This is a fascinating science-fiction story , set specifically just over a year ago, on September 2nd, 2011. The scriptwriters Arkady Strugatsky And Marian Tkachov (in conjunction with the director Aleksey Solovyov who also helped write the screenplay). Made in 1981 and set thirty years into the future, the writers no doubt assumed, like many people at the time, that contact with extraterrestrial civilisations would have occured by this point, hence the opening statement about "a meeting with the space brothers will certainly happen... and very soon!"

The story begins with a message from  the 'Centre of Space Research' which reports a mysterious event where all links to the space stations in Earth's orbit were temporarly cut and the subsequent appearance of a strange black sphere with the ability to teleport objects in and out of their locale.

Early scientific speculation suggests the black sphere may be searching for intelligent life and "The Centre of Space Research" reports the "Council for Contact with Extraterrestrial Civilisation" has sent search parties out to locate the sphere and bring it back to Space Research Centre's laboratory for testing.

Once back in the laboratory, a specialist  scientific "contact group" begins attempts to solve the enigma of the black sphere, but soon, all communication is cut off and the scientists are isolated as a the laboratory is hermetically sealed by an unknown force-field.

Once the scientists are trapped by the black sphere, strange events begin to occur as the extraterrestrial object turns the tables and begins what appears to be a series of experiments on the scientists (after a feeble attempt to disable the object by one of the scientists with a laser gun).

Eventually, communication is established with the alien sphere and the scientists soon realise they are caught in an elegent trap as they hypothesise what an extraterrestrial intelligence would do upon first contact; it would search for scientists, but how, amongst a vast population, would it know who was who?

They realise it would allow itself to be captured and the scientists would come to it. A given race's scientists are after all, "walking information repositories", the best subjects to extract data from to give an overall picture of the planet's level of progress, both technological and 'moral'.

As the outside agencies frantically try and establish communication with the trapped scientists inside, the mysterious black sphere suddenly takes off; leaving Earth's atmosphere and the scientists realise the sphere is actually a "scout robot... designed for human abduction."

The first part was released in 1981, the second part in 1983.

Any help improving the translation will be very appreciated as I do not speak Russian, all I have done is improve the English side of things.

Space Visitors - Part Two (Russian Science-Fiction Short Animation 1983)

Space Visitors - Part Two (Kosmicheskie prishelcy) [Russian Science-Fiction Animation English Subtitles 1983]

IMDb entry should appear soon.

Original Translation By Pashka Geraskin
English Translation Revised By Kosmikino
Further Help With The Translation Needed

Storyline to follow.

10 December 2012

Leptirica (The She-Butterfly) Yugoslavian Horror English Subtitles 1973

In addition to watching Leptirica on my You Tube channel, you can also view and download both the original video file and the revised separate subtitle file in the SRT format which I posted on the Archive website.

Many thanks to the unknown original subtitle maker and translator. These have been completely revised by myself and many thanks to all the people who offered translation advice on my original You Tube post of the film on my Saucer People channel. If you think you can add anything to the translation, the original subtitle file can be downloaded through the Archive website link above.

The legendary Yugoslavian vampire film, a completely different and some would say, more authentic take on the vampire mythos. Until copies surfaced a few years ago, it was pretty much unknown outside of the Balkan states, if you enjoy the vampire mythos and films like Valerie and Her Week of Wonders, this is for you.

Leptirica (which roughly translates as 'She Butterfly' though I have also seen it called 'Night Butterfly') by the Croatian born director Djordje Kadijevic was made in the early seventies for the Belgrade television company "Radiotelevizija Beograd". It was as far as I know only ever shown twice on the then Yugoslavian television network - its original 1973 TV broadcast - and again in the eighties (no idea of specific date) - It has never been "officially" shown outside of its country of origin and no "official" DVD release has ever surfaced. I have read somewhere that the original reel is still exists and despite efforts by the director, it still remains in a dusty Belgrade television archive to this day.

Leptirica was the first "Serbian" horror film and was loosely based on the 1880 story "After Ninety Years" by Milovan Glisic. The story revolves around the 19th century Serbian village of "Zaroshje" that is plagued by the vampire "Sava Savanovic" who has been systematically killing anyone who takes charge of the flour mill (situated in the woods outside the village). After four millers have been killed the council elders become desperate as food is rapidly running out. Meanwhile on the other side of the village a poor young man Strahinja is in love with Radojka (played by the hauntingly beautiful Mirjana Nikolic) the daughter of the local landowner Zivan.

After asking Zivan for his daughters hand in marriage and been refused on the grounds of his poverty Strahinja decides to leave the village. On the way he is met by members of the village council who persuade him to take the job of the village miller. Fully expecting him to be dead by the morning the council is astonished to find him still alive and decide to locate and destroy the grave of the vampire Sava Savanovic. After locating the grave they pierce it with a stake but the soul of the vampire in the form of a butterfly escapes from the coffin before it is sprinkled by the Holy water. The village council assume it is all over and argue that the landowner Zivan is being unreasonable in his refusal to allow his daughter to marry Strahinja and with the blessing of the local priest they kidnap Radojka.

After a drunken celebration on the eve of the wedding night everyone except Zivan looks forward to the marriage of the two young lovers the next day - however events take a strange turn...

What I find fascinating about Leptirica is the way it draws upon the folkloric supernatural and mythic narratives of Eastern Europe - reminding us that Bram Stoker early Hollywood and the later Hammer horror films stole/culturally appropriated the vampire legends of Eastern Europe. Rather than draw upon these western forms of vampire and Gothic horror literature and cinema the director Djordje Kadijevic went back to its source and in doing so created something completely original and compelling in the horror genre.

This sense of "Otherness" is reinforced by the haunting musical score by Milan Trickovic and a visual palette of colours and textures that are unfamiliar to western eyes. How much of this was part of the director and cinematographers aesthetic vision and how much of it was down to the technological differences of filming recording and broadcasting in Eastern Europe is unknown but as an avid viewer of "communist" era films and television programmes, this aesthetic difference is very noticeable.

One of the reasons this film is called "the scariest vampire film ever made" is the fact that when the film was first shown in Yugoslavia a man in Macedonia allegedly died of "fright" (this caused the director a whole heap of trouble in the eyes of the then communist authorities and it was even branded a "terrorist" film by some elements of the state run press). It is also a reflection of the impact it had on two generations of Yugoslavian audiences (this was amplified by the relative scarcity of the horror genre in the countries of the Eastern Bloc and USSR compared to say the number of fantasy/folklore and science-fiction films of that period). I have read a few comments from western audiences who have taken issue with the "scariest vampire film ever" title and not one of them have acknowledged the socio-cultural context in which the film was made.

9 December 2012

Tomorrow, I'll Wake Up And Scald Myself With Tea - Czech Sci-Fi Comedy Film English Subtitles 1977

Zítra vstanu a oparím se cajem 'AKA 'Tomorrow, I'll Wake Up And Scald Myself With Tea'
Directed By Jindrich Polák
Czechoslovakia 1977
Genres: Science-Fiction, Time Travel, Comedy
Subtitles Revised By Kosmikino
Further Translation Help By Captain Robau

This a legendary (millions watched it here in England when it was shown on BBC2 on January 16th 1982) Czech science-fiction, time travel comedy film from the late director Jindrich Polák (Icarus XB-1, Pan Tau, The Visitors).

Taken from the Wiki entry:
"In the near future, a technology enabling time travel has been developed and is now in commercial use. A group of aging former Nazis conspires to alter the results of the Second World War by traveling back in time and supplying Adolf Hitler with a hydrogen bomb.

To this end, they bribe the corrupt time machine pilot Karel, who agrees to assist them. On the day of the scheduled journey, Karel chokes on a croissant and dies. His identical twin brother, Jan, cannot bring himself to tell Karel's fiancée Eva and begins to impersonate Karl.

He is also later mistaken for Karel by the Nazis and stumbles along with their plot. Having been a designer of the rocket-ship time machine, he is able to pilot the ship and take them all back in time. When he realizes the nature of the Nazis' plans, Jan resolves to prevent their success. After triggering several paradoxes by travelling back and forth in time, he manages to defeat the Nazis and resolve the consequences of his twin's death."

A great review of the film can be found here:

7 November 2012

The Saragossa Manuscript (Wojciech Has Poland English Subtitles 1965)

Contemplating a single film to launch Kosmikino, one that would somehow uncannily illustrate the vision and intent behind it, was on careless reflection, a trickster's errand, especially given the vast heterogeneous, spatial and temporal, cinematic universe Kosmikino seeks to cover.

Instead it made more sense to choose a film that is so utterly anomalous, uncategorisable, bizarre, compelling and almost 'mystical' in its singular Otherness, that in its own curious way, it becomes representative of the collective body of science-fiction, fantasy and horror film, television and animation produced in Russia and Eastern Europe during the Soviet and Eastern Bloc period of geo-political history.

Some of the titles Kosmikino will be posting in the upcoming weeks and months will be completely unknown to the majority of the English speaking audience. The sheer number of films made in the period 1924 to 1992, their diverse nature and often, their unexpected originality, may surprise many. Especially those who assume it was all dogmatic communist propaganda, ideologically correct story-lines and rigid revolutionary zeal with Tarkovsky's Solaris and Stalker, being the exception that proves the rule.

Though having said that, when it comes to The Saragossa Manuscript, it can often feel less like cinema and more as if one were witnessing the birth of a 5-D Escher galaxy by some deranged yet all powerful gnostic creator god.

This is definitely not a film for everyone, but for the chosen few, once seen, it seems to indelibly imprint itself upon one's psyche. This is perhaps why, in the 1990s, Grateful Dead head-man, the late Jerry Garcia, together with Martin Scorsese and Francis Ford Coppola, financed the restoration of an uncut print of the film, owned by the late director, Wojciech Has himself.

With this in mind, there are, unsurprisingly, numerous book, journal, web reviews and commentaries on the film, Out of them all, I have always thought one of the best recommendations is the simple fact it was one of the very favourite films of Spanish surrealist Luis Buñuel. Writing that he hardly ever saw the same film twice, but liked this film so much, he saw it three times.

The Wikipedia entry gives an overview of the film.

One of the best and most in-depth reviews of the film can be found on Martin A. Schell's website . In it, he decodes and unravels the film into 'preliminary notes', 'the outline' and 'explanatory notes'.

I totally revised the existing DVD English subtitles on the above You Tube video and was further helped by a kind Polish person who filled in the previously untranslated parts as well as offering a more accurate translation where needed. One of the key benefits of posting the subtitles as a separate stream is the fact they can be constantly updated, and collectively, there exists the opportunity of making the best translation possible.