“the ussr’s apollo 13”: salyut-7 (2017)

they changed the names (probably necessary for legal reasons considering how much they fictionalized the events), so u lose a lot of really cool details like cosmonaut vladimir dzhanibekov having taken his wife’s last name.

this was made in modern-day, capitalist russia, but public opinion towards the soviet union is still quite high in russia so it’s not like the movie comes right out and overtly hates on communism. (they want to make money.) at times it seems almost downright positive about it, actually. consider the following exchange between the character based on dzhanibekov & his wife about what he’d do if he crash-landed in madagascar:

“i’d tell them stories about space, about stars, about the universe… and a little bit about what my life was like in the ussr.”
“what was your life like in the ussr? tell me.”
“i had my daughter, my wife, football, and the building of communism.”
“yeah, sounds really boring. compared to the view of the african continent from space.”
“but i love my life.”

but in the course of its fictionalization, it reinforces a lot of individualistic nonsense. the soviet union’s history is full of notable examples of self-sacrificing bravery and the true story this film is based on is one of these examples. the bravery shown by the cosmonauts that undertook this mission is worth celebrating. it is, unfortunately, difficult to imagine they would appreciate how this film depicts their story.

basically, mission control tells the cosmonauts over and over to abort the mission or some other overly cautious thing. the cosmonauts repeatedly recklessly violate their orders. mission control is shocked and relieved that the cosmonauts keep violating their orders and delivering amazing results. rinse, repeat.

this is not how heroism works.

things go dramatically wrong that didn’t actually happen. there’s a fire on the soyuz capsule. a lot of things are done to ratchet up the drama and tension when the real story would be plenty interesting on its own with maybe just a few modest embellishments. though i will admit the scene where the cosmonaut and flight director are both pounding away at the same part with a hammer in frustration (the cosmonaut in space, the flight commander on the simulator) was a pretty great use of all that ridiculous buildup.

all of the space shots were gorgeous, imo, but i’m easy for this stuff. i really appreciated the soundtrack? i didn’t get the impression that it was groundbreaking or anything, but it seemed to fit/enhance the mood plenty.

clearly this isn’t perfect, but i’m still glad i experienced it. it’s different. it’s out of my comfort zone. there really is a world out there for me that isn’t just american blockbuster after american blockbuster. and honestly? it’s just nice to have some space bullshit that doesn’t also have american flags waving everywhere.

btw, i’m looking for a book that from an unabasedly soviet perspective about the soviet space program. what i’m looking for is a kind of general overview that a layenby can understand. like, i know basically all the major stuff that happened in the american space program due to having been super interested in space bullshit pretty much throughout my entire life, but i can’t seem to find anything about the soviet space program other than like “grrr russia bad, america good” so yeah. if anyone can point me in the right direction, that would be lovely.



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