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.


  1. The animation here is almost reminiscent of René Laloux's Fantastic Planet (1973), considering that Laloux's film was a French-Czechoslovak co-production, animated at the Jiří Trnka studios in Prague. This surrealist animation was a staple in Soviet/Eastern Bloc cartoons.

    I've come across other Soviet SF cartoons that you might want to look at. I've listed them in chronological order along with the links (some to HD versions, whenever I can find them). Some are from before and some after the thaw of the Cold War. You'll be surprised how the latter titles introduce Anime style in Russian animation.

    Чудо / Chudo (1973)

    Возвращение / Vozvrashchenie (1980)

    Встреча / Vstrecha (1984)

    Из дневников Ийона Тихого. Путешествие на Интеропию / Iz dnevnikov Iyona Tikhogo. Puteshestvie na interopiyu (1986)

    И эхом отзовётся / I ekhom otzovyotsya (1987)
    A live-action/animation hybrid

    Вампиры Геоны (Геона-1) / Vampiry Geony (Geona-1) (1991)

    Хозяева Геоны (Геона-2) / Khozyaeva Geony (Geona-2) (1992)

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  3. I've posted these links not only for interest's sake, but also to give you a head start as well. This considering, that your blog intends to cover (films, TV series) and animations pertaining to the Science Fiction, Fantasy and Horror genres. In this case, Science Fiction, which is topical since obviously this animation is SF-based.

    As for improving the subtitles for this animation, I only know a little Russian and that might not be sufficient to do a complete revision. The furthest I could get is revising the opening and ending credits, but other than that, I think you're pretty much spot on with the current translation.

    I don't know at what point you intend to create subtitles for the animations I listed above, but in the meantime they're worth having a look at.

    Lastly, a bit of trivia. In Russia and Eastern Europe, 'Fantastika' is an umbrella term for fantastic (SF, Fantasy and Horror) literature, and by extension, fantastic films and television. Of course this term can be broken down into sub-categories according to genre. For example, in East Germany, Science Fiction literature was classified as 'utopian' (utopische) or 'scientific fantastic' (wissenschaftliche-phantastische), to differentiate itself from Western/Capitalist Science Fiction.

    Keep up the good work!

  4. thanks for posting this great animation. I would love to have a download or DVD of this. Is it available anywhere or can you source a copy?

  5. Many thanks for your comments Robert and Simon, I will answer both in more detail in the next day or two, I just wanted to acknowledge I have read them and really appreciate your feedback.

  6. Is this place still alive by any chance? I'm rather interested in Soviet films and eastern bloc cinema in general. It's such a shame there's not much in the way of subtitles for them.