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Road to the Stars
Road to the Stars
Road to the Stars
First landing on the moon. The lunar spacecraft is in lunar orbit, waiting for the burn to descend to the surface. The original shot is tremendously impressive, the lunar surface rolling by below the lander.
One man in Russia filmed the future - before Sputnik! Did Kubrick copy his work?

Road to the Stars was one of the most amazing special effects accomplishments in film history. Pavel Klushantsev began working on the color film in Leningrad in 1954. His aim was to explain and realistically portray the coming age of space exploration. With technical advise from Tikhonravov (who was secretly developing the Soviet Union's first manned spacecraft at the time), Klushantsev showed tremendous ingenuity in explaining and portraying man's conquest of space. The film was nearing completion when Sputnik 1 was launched. Klushantsev hurriedly filmed a sequence illustrating this feat, and the film was released internationally a month later.

The film begins in Kaluga, following the life of Tsiolkovskiy, as he finds the basic technical solutions to spaceflight. Each discovery is explained in layman's terms. The early experiments of GIRD are restaged.

The final section of the film portrays the launching of the first Soviet man into space, the first space station, and the first landing on the moon. In creating this footage Klushantsev created marvelous special effects, using techniques copied by Stanley Kubrick ten years later for 2001: A Space Odyssey. Indeed, some sequences in 2001 seems a shot-for-shot duplication of Road to the Stars..

A large three stage rocket puts the first three-man crew into space. The launch site seems to be in the Crimea, which certainly would have been a great advantage to the Soviet program compared to the selected Baikonur site. The scene of the crew, waving farewell from the platform at the top of the rocket, is eerily similar to scenes later played out in real life for Voskhod and Soyuz launches. The crew wear soft leather flying outfits in the pressurized cabin - reflecting the view of Soviet engineers that spacesuits were only needed for spacewalks. As in Von Braun's early designs, the lower stages are retrieved for re-use. The winged third stage achieves orbit. The crew floats about the padded cabin before venturing outside of the spacecraft for man's first spacewalk. An awestruck cosmonaut in full space suit watches a space sunrise.

The crew makes a deorbit burn, and reenters the atmosphere in a long glide as advocated by Von Braun. The spaceplane/seaplane lands in the Black Sea and the crew is picked up by motorboat and brought back to the cheering crowds on the beach.

Shortly thereafter, whole fleets of rockets are being launched to convey space station elements into orbit. Teams in space suits construct the revolving station. Shots of the crews at work, and the interior and exterior of the revolving station, are again very similar to those later used in 2001.

An earth-orbit-to-lunar-surface shuttle is built and refueled at the station. Departing from the despun section, it travels to the moon, taking the two-man crew to the first lunar landing. The entire landing sequence is very similar to that in 2001. It includes a jaw-dropping shot of the shuttle in lunar orbit as the terrain rolls by beneath it.

After landing on the surface, the first crewman walks down the ladder and puts the first footprint on the lunar surface. The scene is very close to the reality of Neil Armstrong stepping onto the moon 13 years later. Even the consistency of the lunar surface is precisely right.

A few final shots show the future lunar base, and manned exploration of Mars, the moons of Saturn, and 'beyond the infinite'.




Photo Gallery

Road 2 Stars vs 2001Road 2 Stars vs 2001
Creative remembrance - scenes from Road to the Stars and 2001, side-by-side: exterior of the space station; interior lounge of the space station; television/communications private area; bottom, left two images: space suits; lost in space. Remarkable similarities!


Road 2 Stars vs 2001Road 2 Stars vs 2001
Creative remembrance - scenes from Road to the Stars and 2001, side-by-side: the lander approaches the moon; the lunar lander deploys its gear for the landing; local inhabitants with a view of the moon base.


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Crew departs for first voyage to space. They wave from the gantry. Prescient scene, echoed in every single Soviet manned launch to follow for thirty years.


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Crew departs for first voyage to space. They wave goodbye. Can be matched precisely with shots of departure of Voskhod 1, or early Soyuz crews (before the death of the Soyuz 11 crew changed Soviet opinion to require the crew to where space suits during all flight phases).


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The mobile launch gantry supports retract. It then will pull back from the launch pad and safe itself for launch.


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The crew has put their anti-G couches back and is ready for the launch of the first manned spacecraft into orbit.


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Launch of the first manned spacecraft into orbit. Anticipating later Soviet practice, the launch sequence is automated. There are no matte shots here - just use of forced perspective.


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Launch of the first manned spacecraft into orbit. Impressively realistic sequence - filmed a year before Sputnik!


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Launch of the first manned spacecraft into orbit. The gantry has moved back, the rocket is alone in its pad. The last members of the launch crews drive away from the rocket.


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The first manned spacecraft ready for launch.


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Launch of the first manned spacecraft into orbit.


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The first manned spacecraft on its launch pad. The roll-away service structure is still at the pad.


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The first manned spacecraft on its launch pad.


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Rollback of the launch tower before launch of the first manned spacecraft.


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The first stage pitches over and ascends into space.


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The final stage continues into orbit.


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The first manned spacecraft in orbit.


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Cockpit of the spacecraft. The padded walls, to allow movement in zero-G, were duplicated in Kubrick's 2001. This set was built to rotate while the camera was fixed to the frame, the same technique Kubrick would use ten years later.


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Cockpit of the spacecraft. The Globus instrument shown was used in every Soviet spacecraft for the next thirty years.


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Cockpit of the spacecraft. After unstrapping himself, the cosmonaut floats free in the cabin.


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The first spacewalk. The cosmonaut faces a space dawn. The suit is similar to that used in Kubrick's 2001.


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The first sunrise seen by man from orbit - or the opening credits to 2001?


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The first spacewalk. The cosmonaut appears tiny on the hull of his spaceship as it orbits the earth.


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The re-entry of the first spaceplane.


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The landing of the first spaceplane. It is equipped for landing at sea on its hull.


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The fleet of huge cargo rockets required for assembly of the space station. The detail on the gantries is impressive.


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The fleet of huge cargo rockets required for assembly of the space station is erected at the launch site.


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Space station assembly. Crews work on the new section in the foreground. The main station is in the distance.


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Space station assembly. The astronaut uses a rocket gun, to manoeuvre large sections of the station. The main station is in the background.


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Space station assembly. The work crews prepare to join two major sections together.


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Space station assembly. The astronaut uses a solar concentrator to vacuum weld structural elements of the station together.


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The Space Station. The camera pans into the spokes of the revolving station, an identical shot as that in 2001.


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A large hall in the Space Station. Uncannily like the scenes aboard the station in Kubrick's 2001.


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The garden section of the Space Station. The Soviet dream of making space bloom would be echoed in the work of the IMBP Institute in the 1960's in developing biological closed ecosystems for Korolev's TMK Mars expedition spacecraft.


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The garden section of the Space Station. The Soviet dream of making space bloom would be echoed in the work of the IMBP Institute in the 1960's in developing biological closed ecosystems for Korolev's TMK Mars expedition spacecraft.


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Personal quarters aboard the Space Station. Unlike Kubrick, the Russian director believed personal touches would be necessary for life in space - a house coat for your personal space, a cat, curtains on the window, a live Bolshoi ballet broadcast on the telly.


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Personal quarters aboard the Space Station. Very like the videophone scene in 2001.


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Space kitty in the personal quarters aboard the Space Station.


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Rocket scientist explains the mission plan for a robot lunar flyby mission. The model of the 'packet' rocket, similar to the scheme used for the Sputnik and Luna launchers, is very interesting.


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Lunar probe readied for launch. The preparation team moves the petals of the launch shroud around the multi-camera probe (four years before Luna 3 is launched on the same mission!)


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First landing on the moon. The lunar lander is docked to the space station in earth orbit prior to departing for the moon.


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The meeting area of the Space Station. Everyone is watching the departure of the first ship to the Moon.


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View of the crater Clavius, target for the first lunar landing. Coincidentally the same crater plays an important role in 2001.


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First landing on the moon. The lander prepares to turn around for the landing manoeuvre.


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First landing on the moon. The lander descends to the surface.


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First landing on the moon. The lander descends to the surface. Very similar to the sequence in Kubrick's 2001.


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First landing on the moon.


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First landing on the moon. The cosmonaut descends to the surface.


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First landing on the moon. The cosmonaut descends to the surface.


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First step onto the moon. The film exactly duplicates the motion of Neil Armstrong 13 years later.


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First footprint onto the moon. The consistency of the lunar surface - like fine cement dust - is exactly right.


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First footstep on the moon - as filmed in 1956, 13 years before the actual event..


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First landing on the moon. Long shot as the crew exults on the lunar surface.


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First landing on the moon. Close-up shot as the crew (of two!) exults on the lunar surface. American astronauts were not this emotional; perhaps if the Soviets had won the moon race, they would have been this exuberant.


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First landing on the moon. Medium shot as the crew exults on the lunar surface.


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The lunar surface. The film-makers perhaps relied to much on the convincing Bonestell depictions of a rugged lunar surface. Careful observers had already noted that the lunar mountains were rounded.


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First landing on the moon. The cosmonauts celebrate.


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The moon base under construction.


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The moon base.


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The moon base. The habitats are made of lunar-material concrete.


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Lunar citizens. A family in space suits goes out onto a balcony overlooking the first lunar settlement.


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The moon base. Detail of the control tower.


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The moon base. The buildings are connected by pressurised tubes.


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First landing on Mars.


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Saturn - future target of Soviet space exploration, 1957.


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Saturn - future target of Soviet space exploration, 1957.


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Saturn - future target of Soviet space exploration, 1957. A composite borrowing heavily from Bonestell's classic painting.


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Lost in space. An astronaut floats clear of the station without a tether. Remarkably similar to the same scene in 2001 ten years later, and filmed using the same technique (filming upward at a stuntman hanging from a rope, which is hidden by his body).



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