The Star Dreamer
Title: The Star Dreamer
Director: Mads Baastrup, Sonja Vesterholt
It's been said time and time again that history is written by the winners, and this all too often means the truth falls through the cracks. Pavel Klushantsev is a name that probably means little to most – as until now it meant nothing to me – but his work is a perfect example of an artist before his time, forgotten except as a minor footnote despite pioneering techniques and ideas that, whilst probably not too impressive now, were nothing short of staggering in the 50s and 60s. Credit for techniques that first came into public light with Kubrick's “2001,” using camera techniques to create 'the first' recognisable scene of weightlessness were pioneered by Pavel a decade earlier; his camerawork was sent to the Americans as documentation on the launch of the Sputnik, and again when his work “The Moon” was obtained by CBS it was shown and believed to be a documentary, giving rise to a short-lived conspiracy that the Russians had already landed there. And as people watched his work, Skotak (Visual Effects Master behind Aliens and Terminator II) was given inspiration.
But what is apparent is that he was constrained by his location and by public pressure at the time; one film was quickly slandered and slated by the media, shaped by a high government officials comment that 'any woman in the Russian space program would not cry,' and many more would never get made for the controversy it would cause; one involving the collaboration between the Russians, Americans and Germans – all key players in the then ongoing Space Race – deemed too unthinkable to produce. As a result his work that even went as far as to seek out the officials in charge of the Russian space program to ask details such as the distance to the moon and the external design of the Sputnik satellite so as to make his films as accurate a portrayal as possible went largely unrecognised.
The problem with this documentary is that there seems to be so little about this man that's known that it barely feels like it follows his life at all; there are huge gaps in his story that are filled by the developments of the Space Race – or by nothing at all – which makes this feel perhaps incomplete or unfinished. Hearing about the techniques of the past was always intriguing for me to learn. None of this CGI effects but people thinking on their feet, how can we make this look real? For a man whose suffered prejudice and manipulation by a controlling government, and whose work has been pilfered, butchered, cut out and re-used in a handful of B-Movies without crediting the original director; it isn't much, but this film helps remind us of a man who shouldn't be forgotten.