Stanisław Welbel

Silent Star – Cold War Sci-Fi movies from the Soviet Block.
Stanisław Welbel

I would like to focus this paper on selected science fiction movies from the Cold War era from Poland, Czechoslovakia and East Germany.

In those movies one can trace topics that are crucial for art in the decade of the sixties, which is the subject of our research. I would go beyond this frame however as some of the most important problems are based on the political situation that has it roots in the decade before and is also visible decades after.
The movies chosen for this analysis could serve as perfect examples of the artistic discourse, in which certain phenomena could be observed, that are of great significance for art in historical research. It is possible to see the influences of current questions and political events in visual pop culture that could be applied to high art. One can also trace how the visual culture was inspired and complementary to Cold War politics; the Space Race in this particular case.
I would like to see these films in a broad context varying from politics to art and design.
The coincidence of the fascination about deep space and the future that is essential for Sci-Fi movies, with the obsession with future technologies and the space race during the Cold War, result in movies that are both typical for their genre but also could be seen as a manifestation of the then current interests, fears and political agenda.
I will try to link some of the movies with current artworks or examples of design to show how the future was perceived as an era, which had just started, and all the incredible visions, familiar rather from fantasy movies, are just about to happen. The phrase “living in the future” could sum up this attitude, which can also be seen on a very basic level, for instance by using a futuristic but contemporary design in the film set as a symbol of the future or placing the action of the movies in the very near future. The problems of the future would be of the same kind as the current ones, but also the awareness of the difficulties that human kind might encounter is seen through the fears of the atomic armaments race.

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