Science Fiction Film & Television

Genre film, spectacle and the Strugatskii brothers in Fyodor Bondarchuk’s The Inhabited Island

Science Fiction Film & Television (2015), 8, (2), 199–217.

Abstract

This article focuses on Fyodor Bondarchuk’s Obitaemyi ostrov (The Inhabited Island Parts I–II; Russia 2008–9), which is based on the Strugatskiis’ novel of the same name. The article’s argument is twofold. First, I suggest that the book and film versions offer, respectively, a more open work and an overdetermined narrative. The novel is rich enough to stimulate ample cognitive work on the part of the reader; the films, by contrast, follow a pattern of reduced complexity, suppressing cognitive efforts on the viewer’s part. Such an overdetermined or closed narrative is analogous to the central metaphor of the self-enclosed totalitarian world of the planet Saraksh portrayed in Obitaemyi ostrov. Second, I argue that the multi-referential, mass-market approach taken by the director, Bondarchuk, offers audiences spectacle instead of the more subtle effect of cognitive estrangement so crucial to the Strugatskiis’ imagination. Whereas the Strugatskii brothers made their mark by transforming the conventions of genre literature into the mythologemes of the late Soviet intelligentsia, the movie version adapts the novel to the dominant stereotypes and promptings of mass culture – in effect, reversing the Strugatskiis’ own telos.

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Suvin, Darko. Metamorphoses of Science Fiction: On the Poetics and History of a Literary Genre. New Haven: Yale UP, 1979. Metamorphoses of Science Fiction: On the Poetics and History of a Literary Genre Google Scholar

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Tynianov, Iurii, Boris Eikhenbaum and K. Shutko. Poetika kino. Berkeley: Berkeley Slavic Specialties, 1984. Poetika kino Google Scholar

Baudrillard, Jean. The Illusion of the End. Stanford: Stanford UP, 1994. The Illusion of the End Google Scholar

Baudrillard, Jean. The Vital Illusion. Ed. Julia Witwer. New York: Columbia UP, 2000. The Vital Illusion Google Scholar

Baudrillard, Jean. ‘The Year 2000 Has Already Happened’. Body Invaders: Panic Sex in America. Ed. Arthur and Marylouise Kroker. New York: Palgrave McMillan, 1987. 35–44. The Year 2000 Has Already Happened Body Invaders: Panic Sex in America 35 44 Google Scholar

Bondarchuk, Fedor. ‘Etot fil’m – moia lichnaia voina s totalitari2mom’ (22 Dec 2008). http://www.profile.ru/items_27771. Accessed 15 Mar 2013. Google Scholar

Bondarchuk, Fedor, and Aleksander Rodnianskii. ‘Mir poldnia. Neobitaemyi ostrov kul’tury I “Obitaemyi ostrov” kino’. Rossiiskaia gazeta (21 Oct 2008). http://www.rg.ru/2008/10/21/ostrov.html. Accessed 2 Feb 2013. Google Scholar

Bould, Mark. ‘Introduction: Rough Guide to a Lonely Planet, from Nemo to Neo’. Red Planets: Marxism and Science Fiction. Ed. Mark Bould and China Miéville. Middletown: Wesleyan UP, 2009. 1–26. Introduction: Rough Guide to a Lonely Planet, from Nemo to Neo Red Planets: Marxism and Science Fiction 1 26 Google Scholar

Bykov, Dmitrii. ‘Vognutyi mir’. Ogonek 39 (2008). http://www.kino-teatr.ru/kino/art/pr/835; http://www.kino-teatr.ru/kino/art/pr/835. Accessed 15 Mar 2013. Google Scholar

Eco, Umberto. The Open Work. Trans. Anna Cancogni. Intro. David Robey. Cambridge: Harvard UP, 1989. The Open Work Google Scholar

Freedman, Carl. The Incomplete Projects: Marxism, Modernity, and the Politics of Culture. Middleton: Wesleyan UP, 2002. The Incomplete Projects: Marxism, Modernity, and the Politics of Culture. Google Scholar

Gomel, Elana. ‘Gods like Men: Soviet Science Fiction and the Utopian Self’. Science Fiction Studies 98 (2004): 358–77. Gods like Men: Soviet Science Fiction and the Utopian Self Science Fiction Studies 98 358 77 Google Scholar

Gomel, Elana. ‘The Poetics of Censorship: Allegory as Form and Ideology in the Novels of Arkady and Boris Strugatsky’. Science Fiction Studies 65 (1995): 87–105. The Poetics of Censorship: Allegory as Form and Ideology in the Novels of Arkady and Boris Strugatsky Science Fiction Studies 65 87 105 Google Scholar

Howell, Yvonne. Apocalyptic Realism: The Science Fiction of Arkady and Boris Strugatsky. New York: Peter Lang, 1994. Apocalyptic Realism: The Science Fiction of Arkady and Boris Strugatsky Google Scholar

Jameson, Fredric. ‘Afterword: Adaptation as a Philosophical Problem’. True to the Spirit: Film Adaptation and the Question of Fidelity. Ed. Colin MacCabe, Kathleen Murray and Rick Warner. Oxford: Oxford UP, 2011. 218–33. Afterword: Adaptation as a Philosophical Problem True to the Spirit: Film Adaptation and the Question of Fidelity 218 33 Google Scholar

Lipovetskii, Mark. ‘Traektorii itr-diskursa: ra2ro2nennye 2ametki’. Neprikosnovennyi 2apas 74.6 (2010). http://maga2ines.russ.ru/n2/2010/6/li16-pr.html. Accessed 8 Oct 2011. Google Scholar

Luk’ianenko, Sergei. ‘Razmyshleniia na beregu’ (4 Jan 2009). http://dr-piliulkin.livejournal.com/60142.html. Accessed 9 Feb 2015. Google Scholar

Maguire, Muireann. ‘Fedor Bondarchuk: The Inhabited Island, Parts 1 and 2 (Obitaemyi ostrov, 2008 and Obitaemyi ostrov: Skhvatka, 2009)’. Kinokultura 26 (2009). http://www.kinokultura.com/2009/26r-ostrov.shtml. Accessed 7 Mar 2013. Google Scholar

Metz, Christian. The Imaginary Signifier. Bloomington: Indiana UP, 2009. The Imaginary Signifer Google Scholar

‘Obitaemyi ostrov. Fil’m pervyi’. Mir fantastiki (29 Mar 2009). http://www.mirf.ru/Reviews/review3086.htm. Accessed 28 Feb 2015. Google Scholar

Orwin, Donna T. ‘Leo Tolstoy: Pacifist, Patriot, and Molodets’. Anniversary Essays on Tolstoy. Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 2010. 76–95. Leo Tolstoy: Pacifst, Patriot, and Molodets Anniversary Essays on Tolstoy 76 95 Google Scholar

Rieder, John. ‘Spectacle, Technology and Colonialism in SF Cinema: The Case of Wim Wenders’ Until the End of the World’. Red Planets: Marxism and Science Fiction. Ed. Mark Bould and China Miéville. Middletown: Wesleyan UP, 2009. 83–99. Spectacle, Technology and Colonialism in SF Cinema: The Case of Wim Wenders Until the End of the World’. Red Planets: Marxism and Science Fiction Google Scholar

Schweinitz, Jörg. Film and Stereotype: A Challenge for Cinema and Theory. Trans. Laura Schleussner. New York: Columbia UP, 2011. Film and Stereotype: A Challenge for Cinema and Theory Google Scholar

Strugatskie, Arkadii and Boris. ‘Obitaemyi ostrov’. Sobranie sochinenii v odinnadtsati tomakh. Vol. V. Donetsk: Stalker, 2001. 315–634. Obitaemyi ostrov Sobranie sochinenii v odinnadtsati tomakh 315 634 Google Scholar

Strugatskii, Boris. ‘Boris Strugatskii dovolen ekrani2atsiei romana Obitaemyi ostrov’ (26 Dec 2009). http://ria.ru/culture/20081226/158151534.html. Accessed 7 Mar 2013. Google Scholar

Strugatskii, Boris. ‘Kommentarii k proidennomu’. Sobranie sochinenii v odinnadtsati tomakh. Vol. V. Donetsk: Stalker, 2001. 653–761. Kommentarii k proidennomu Sobranie sochinenii v odinnadtsati tomakh 653 71 Google Scholar

Strugatskii, Boris. ‘Off-line interv’iu’. 19 June 2009. http://www.rusf.ru/abs/int0129.htm#19. Accessed 7 Mar 2013. Google Scholar

Strugatskii, Boris. ‘Strugatskii posmotrel “Obitaemyi ostrov”’. Novaia gazeta (22 Jan 2009). http://www.novayaga2eta.ru/arts/46434.html?print=1. Accessed 20 Feb 2013. Google Scholar

Strugatskiis, Arkadii and Boris. Prisoners of Power. Trans. Helen Saltz Jacobson. London: Victor Gollancz, 1998. Prisoners of Power Google Scholar

Suvin, Darko. Metamorphoses of Science Fiction: On the Poetics and History of a Literary Genre. New Haven: Yale UP, 1979. Metamorphoses of Science Fiction: On the Poetics and History of a Literary Genre Google Scholar

Todorov, Tsvetan. The Fantastic: A Structural Approach to a Literary Genre. Trans. Richard Howard. Intro. Robert Scholes. Ithaca: Cornell UP, 1975. The Fantastic: A Structural Approach to a Literary Genre Google Scholar

Tynianov, Iurii, Boris Eikhenbaum and K. Shutko. Poetika kino. Berkeley: Berkeley Slavic Specialties, 1984. Poetika kino Google Scholar

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