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Планета бурь

The Planet of Storms

According to some, Planet of Storms set new standards for science fiction films. To make this and other films, Pavel Klushantsev had direct access to some of the top Russian space scientists, who insured authenticity in his designs and understanding of travel in outer space. But the director also nurtured human elements in his films. His characters were not cold automatons. Even John, the robot in Planet of Storms, suffered mental collapse at one point.

Forming a scenario from a novel by Aleksandr Kazantsev, Klushantsev proceeded to create a possible Venus with all that was known at a time before any earth satellites had yet circled or photographed the inhospitably hot planet. The subsequent research has proved this Russian director's vision incorrect.

However, the he provided a fascinating environment for his characters to explore. The philosophical question of life on other planets is answered in the affirmative, and Klushantsev peoples his diverse crew with scientists, pragmatists, and dreamers, the latter being perhaps the most important to the director.

American producer Roger Corman was so taken with Planet of Storms (some say at a screening in London) that he bought the rights to the film and proceeded to chop it up rather than distribute the original in the US. First, he asked Curtis Harrington to take the footage and insert some scenes with Basil Rathbone as a scientist on the moon talking to the crewmembers. With English dubbing, the film was dumbed down but remained fairly intact visually. The result, Voyage to a Prehistoric Planet (1965), is the only way that Americans could see Planet of Storms, but without all the poetry and philosophy.

Never one to throw away good footage, Corman then asked Peter Bogdanovich to take Planet of Storms and insert women (besides Masha) on the planet. No matter that the women and the Soviet male cosmonauts never interacted in this dual footage version. But now with the blonde hippie chicks on the planet, there was some explanation for the operatic singing. Mamie Van Doren, a decade after High School Confidential, played the leader of the blonde Venutians in hip-huggers and breastplates made of, naturally, big shells. This version, retitled Voyage to the Planet of Prehistoric Women (1968), actually works in a rather demented way.

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