Monday, April 23, 2012

REVIEW: Mechte Navstrechu

Mechte Navstrechu
Director: Mikhail Karzhukov, Otar Koderidze
Year 1963
Mechte Navstrechu, AKA Begegnung im All, AKA A Dream Come True, is a brilliant Soviet Union science fiction film that captures the wonder and imaginative nature that space travel encapsulates. Expressed in a dream-like documentary style, the film establishes an interesting world where mankind, and its combined ambition, reaches for the stars and beyond. Mechte Navstrechu looks absolutely beautiful and the emotional touches that the filmmakers sprinkle throughout this obscure space yarn is exceptionally grounded and expertly presented. Prepare for a wild and surreal ride, born on the wings of mankind’s imagination.
This futuristic masterpiece follows the lives of two star crossed cosmonaut lovers, Tanya Krilova and Andrei Sayenko, as they experience the life changing event of establishing contact with an alien race from far beyond their solar system’s reach. With this epic situation and intimidating concept ahead of them, the two volunteer to embark on this delicate mission, hoping against hope that Earth can outstretch an olive branch of peace to this mysterious race of beings far across the universe. Mechte Navstrechu takes this fantastic quest head on, showing us just how far a person’s dreams can take us. Bon voyage.

Larisa Gordeichik plays the role of Tanya, the cosmonaut and dreamer who believes in the best of people. If there is a center piece to this film and a main character that the narrative follows then Tanya would be it. Her story is an emotional one, filled with inner turmoil and constant hope, and the focus that the film has on the character of Tanya results in making the movie a more intimate piece of work. Larisa looks strangely beautiful as she fixates on the stars, wondering on what the future will bring. Since this is a rare Soviet Union production, I know little of the cast of unknown characters, but Larisa really shines in this film, making me beg the question, what other outstanding performances did she have in her career? She brings an aura of innocence to her role here in Machte Navstrechu and you can’t help but find yourself being locked onto her performance from the very start of the film. Her emotional pull and heartfelt acting really highlights the overall magic that the movie emits and her inclusion is essential to the film’s success.
Boris Borisenko plays the role of Cosmonaut Andrei Sayenko, another dreamer who is deeply in love with Tanya and the idea of reaching new worlds and civilizations. While not given as much screen time and focus as Tanya’s character, Andrei still has a number of heartfelt moments that highlight the wonders and fears of space travel. These climactic events are few and far between, but when they occur, they amp up the believability of the film and make for quite a compelling viewing. One of the better examples of this is when Boris’ character witnesses Tanya and her crew launch off of the moon, onto their perilous journey to Mars. He stands alone on a barren landscape, with the glow of the Earth behind him, projecting an outstanding and interesting aura of sadness and hope, for the safe return of his wife to be. Boris does a great job with this moment in the film, and he later mirrors this performance when finding that the only way for them to complete their mission, is to make a great sacrifice. Though his role is a small part of a bigger picture, he still makes a memorable mark on the film’s larger than life narrative.

Mechte Navstrechu is a unique film and it’s not just because it’s a Soviet Union science fiction film that focuses on a momentous event like the meetings between two worlds, but it is because of its documentary style mixed with surreal dream-like sequences that really set it aside from the norm. There is a good amount of narration that progresses the film along, giving off the feeling that this movie is more of a live-action news reel depicting the true life moments of planet Earth in the far distant future. This interesting approach makes for compelling viewing, and in affect, this method allows for the viewer to feel as if they are an alien race themselves, being introduced to the lifestyle and habits of the future Earth people. This “God’s eye view” of the events unfolding is extremely bold, yet highly effective, as it forces the viewer to acknowledge their detachment from what’s going on onscreen. The film’s historical approach to the subject matter solidifies the stories’ validity, but in the process it unmasks to the audience that it is what it is, a cinematic creation. Still, it’s the film’s dream-like atmosphere and stupendously elaborate sets and models that really engross the audience into its unorthodox ways and sweeps us up into this adventure among the stars.
The world of Mechte Navstrechu is also absolutely breathtaking, possessing all the refined qualities of a big budget spectacle yet retaining the spiritual nature of an intimate independent piece centered on the idea of dreaming. By making full use of matte paintings, models, and expansive locations, the film presents us with an epic landscape that fully realizes the movie’s equally grandiose concept. What’s also nice about the artistic elements of this sci-fi gem is that they are wonderfully crafted, blending seamlessly into the film’s established constructs enabling the film to leap to life. The main appeal of this movie is its surreal tone and its emphasis on dreams and the dreamers that dare to pursue them, and the effects work fully realizes this convention of reality and supports every wild notion these heavy thinkers can throw at them. With a complex approach and an even deeper twist during the final moments of the film, Mechte Navstrechu is a movie that defies conventional thought, begging for its audience to do the same as their main characters do, by always dreaming big no matter what the consequences. This film truly understands the liberating nature of the science fiction genre and without a doubt, surpassed my expectations in every way, shape and form.

Mechte Navstrechu is a science fiction film that allows itself to get swept up in the fantastic notion of, what if. Forged by the beliefs of men and women who dream of a world outside of their own and constructed by a group of talented filmmakers who were more than capable in bringing this spectacle to life, the movie just oozes a spiritual tone that is so lacking in modern day iterations of the science fiction genre. With an intimate approach that centers on a concentrated group of cosmonauts and focused primarily on two young lovers within the crew, the movie allows for its narrative to delve deeper into a more personal realm to showcase what these brave individuals hope and or fear when meeting a race from outside their own solar system.
This gripping concept is then masterfully complimented by an atmospheric tone that has enough surreal infused moments to make any fan of contemplative science fiction stand up and cheer. The inclusion of the documentary style narration only adds to the already strange nature of the production, making it that much more enthralling to see play out. Imagination is the name of the game in Mechte Navstrechu and if this sounds like your cup of tea, than I urge you to hunt this movie down at any cost. The visuals alone are enough to write home about. Check this one out because this is one flick that is……

Please refrain from touching my globe.

Yep! The Hunger Games novels are even popular in the future.

Hey you kids! Get off my planet!

Looks like it's time for a romantic boat ride for two.

Work you piece of shit! Even in the future nothing works!

Our small glimpse of an alien. What a weirdo.

Did I leave the space iron on?

Check out this dream team.

It's the hit pop group Tanya and the Three Tarts.

Damn it man! Put down the Gameboy and get to work!

We really need to buy you some earmuffs. I can't hold your head like this all day.

I can't believe that everyone forgot my birthday.

The new earmuffs look FABULOUS!

Hey I can see my planet from here!

The traditional, carry the bride over the planet threshold, is in full effect.

So where the hell did you park the car?

Could you be... the most saddest girl in the world?

Woohoo! Drive-Ins are alive and well in the future!


  1. Thanks for the review- I'm hoping to watch this film soon - I'm currently writing a few posts on Soviet science fiction films from the 1920s onwards on my blog - so far have just written the one on 20s films - which is an interesting decade
    Re: your question in the post about the future of the actress, Larisa Gordeichik, she only starred in relatively few films - just 11 in all - she got married just after starring in this film and returned only briefly to acting in the late 60s. After this her husband worked for the Ministry of Foreign Trade and they both spent time travelling abroad (she gave up her film career).

  2. Thanks for taking the time to check out the review Giuviv and I love your site. Just added it to my blog watch list. Looking forward to seeing what other science fiction gems you cover as you move through the years.

    By the way thanks for answering my question about Larisa Gordeichik. I'll have to make it a priority to hunt down her other 10 films. I just wish Soviet films were easier to obtain here in the US than they are. Again thanks for all the help and for taking the time to share in your knowledge on the subject.