you travel halfway across the galaxy to check out a prank call? Supposedly, that
is exactly what this star-faring crew has done. However, once they arrive on
TEM 4, they are assured there is nothing to see here, so please move along.
Thanks to the brainwashing, most of them are inclined to agree. Of course, there
is a sinister scheme afoot in Gottfried Kolditz’s In the Dust of the Stars (trailer here), which screens
during the Film Society of Lincoln Center new series, Strange Lands: International Sci-Fi.
what you will about the locals, but they throw a smashing party. The entire
crew is quite taken with their psychedelic hospitality, except Suko the
navigator, who stayed behind to nurse his suspicions about the “accidental”
distress call that brought them to this swinging planet. As a result, he is the
only one not to get dosed by their sonic mind-blocking device. Rather put out
by his fellow crewmembers’ giddy compliance, Suko will single-handed uncover
the truth on TEM 4. However, it is not like his comrades would be much help,
even under the best of circumstances.
the Cynro crew inspires even less confidence than Peter Davison’s Doctor Who—and
it starts right at the top. In 1978, a woman space captain might have been
considered a progressive symbol, but Akala is no Janeway, not by a long shot.
She is indecisive, gullible, and conspicuously frustrated by her unconsummated longing
for Suko. Clearly, he shares her lust, but he makes do with a willing subordinate
instead, presumably out of respect for the chain of command.
entire Cynro crew looks like a wish fulfillment fantasy, consisting of a couple
middle aged dudes and half a dozen hotties in mod jumpsuits. Indeed, Dust features some of the most
flamboyant costumes this side of The
Fifth Element. In terms of narrative, it is sort of like a middling Star Trek episode in which Yeoman Rand
performs a naked interpretive dance, but Dust
is really about its candy-colored sets and costumes, as wells as its
is hard to believe this was a co-production of the GDR and Romania. One can
only imagine the expressions of bewilderment on the scoldy state censors’ faces
as they watched the Temer dancers Vogueing through the “Boss’s” Henry Moore
sculpture garden, but since the oppressed eventually rise up against their
oppressors, Dust was apparently safe
general hamminess of the ensemble hardly matters either. Arguably, Alfred Stuwe
fares the best as Suko and Jana Brejchová (the one-time Mrs. Miloš Forman) gets
by okay as Akala. On the other hand, Ekkehard Schall and Milan Beli bring extra
cheese as the boss and his chief enforcer, Ronk.
is a ton of fun in a trippy retro kind of way.
Karl-Ernst Sasse’s groovy soundtrack is a classic of its kind and production designer
Christa Helwig truly crafted a strange land. Recommended as a lava lamp curio
from the DEFA filmography, In the Dust of
the Stars screens this Saturday (8/23) at the Walter Reade Theater, as part
of the Strange Lands film series.
Labels: DEFA, East German Cinema, Sci-Fi films, Strange Lands