In 1957 the Soviets launched Sputnik into orbit around Earth.  Advances in satellite technology and the space program allow the Soviets to establish a base on the moon.  Cosmonaut and scientist Igor Petrovich (V. Ymelyanov) was a pioneer in space research and believed that there were zones of deadly radiation and communication problems that present a danger for humans in space.  On a flight to retrieve a valuable satellite in orbit around the Sun, Petrovich’s ship is lost.

Andrey (Pavel Makhotin) is a young scientist and the son of another scientist, Sergei Ivanovich (G. Shamshurin).  Following in Petrovich’s footsteps, Andrey is determined to find a way of protecting cosmonauts from radiation while traveling in space.  To facilitate his research, he performs tests using a monkey named Rena.  Rena, however, becomes sick from radiation and dies. 

Andrey continues his research.  When he is an adult, he learns that Igor Petrovich was actually his father, and that Sergei took care of him after his father was lost in space.  Andrey decides that he needs the information being collected by Petrovich’s science laboratory that is in orbit around the sun.  The same satellite that Petrovich had been searching for when he lost contact with Earth.  Andrey now believes that he must complete his father’s search for the science laboratory.  The search that cost his father his life and may very well result in Andrey losing his as well.      

“I Was a Satellite of the Sun” AKA “I was A Sputnik of the Sun” or “Ya byl sputnikom solntsa” was released in 1959 and was directed by Viktor Morgenstern.  It is a Russian science fiction film with animation elements and a mock autobiography.

The movie is basically set in an alternate universe where the Soviet Union won the space race.  That alone puts the film directly in the propaganda category.  A lot of Soviet era science fiction films have a similar look and feel to them.  They have more narration than actual acting. The acting itself is rather stiff and unemotional.  The film also uses a fair amount of animation, some of it good and some of it cartoonish.  The miniatures used in the film are better than the animation.

Unfortunately, it’s not an overly good film or even an interesting one.  It is slow and talky.  Even the story is not all that fun.  Especially when there were so many other science fiction movies produced in 1959 that sported benevolent aliens, extraterrestrial monsters and supersonic weapons.  In general, it plays out like a boring mocumentary.

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