Saturday 17 July 2010

Cryonics: Poland 1984 edition

SCTV was wrong. Horribly wrong. For better or worse, my expectations of Soviet-bloc television were set by SCTV's caricature. Like What Fits Into Russia:

and Don't feed or give matches to the Uzbecs (which may now seem less funny but more prescient)

But, I was wrong. SCTV led me astray. Via Lubos Motl, a Polish movie, all up on YouTube, from 1984.

Here's the playlist with the movie split into 14 parts. Says Motl:
Spoilers follow below...

In 1991, two men are hibernated in the context of a scientific experiment. The plan was that they would be waken up in 3 years, in 1994. However, a war begins and leads to the elimination of all males.

The Gentlemen are waken up in 2044 when the world is controlled by a female-only, feminist, politically correct, totalitarian society that was partly designed as a parody of the communist system that existed in Poland when the movie was shot.

The female apparatchiks teach all the girls how the women used to be discriminated against by the males before the males were justly removed from the world. Einstein was a woman, too.

Everyone has to live under the ground as well. That's because of the high radioactivity in the atmosphere. At least that's what everyone is told.

The life of is difficult for the two men - one of them is more formal, the other one is very informal. ;-) Their main ally turns out to be Ms Lamia Reno (of Archeo), a sensitive and reasonable blonde woman whose lust is stronger than the anti-sex-drive hormonal pills. ;-)

It turns out that there's something unexpectedly wrong - or right - with Ms Excellency, too. You can guess whether the wisdom about the toxicity of the atmosphere is right or not: the propaganda in the 2044 society is so similar to the man-made global warming! The men choose freedom - a short life in the radioactive atmosphere - over the crippled life in the feminist society. Lamia helps them to get out of the Hell.

But a few nice surprises await them above the ground and the men ultimately manage to fix the world at the very end and boys start to be born in the test-tubes again.
I'll second Lubos's recommendation, though I've only watched the first three parts so far. This isn't what I was expecting from Soviet-bloc television. I knew that the reforms started early in Poland, but there's a sense of real freedom in these clips. One of the cryonauts objects strenuously to their captors' eavesdropping on private conversations; there are objections to official re-writing of history. One cryonaut laments that he, put to sleep in 1991, had been due to receive an apartment in 1998. And the production value isn't far from most American stuff of similar age. I'm impressed.

There are passing shots of female nudity. Consequently, American television censors would probably not allow to be broadcast a film that was available under Communism in Poland. Think about that.


  1. Science fiction was rather freer than conventional literature in the Soviet Union (well in the latter decades anyway) even when there was satirical allusions made about contemporary politics.

    Poland is a bit of a different case because even though the Country was under Martial Law at the time, they did it to keep the Soviet Union out and so critical commentary on Soviet practice would have been furtively blessed by the polish authorities.

    For TV quality, there's always the original Solaris film made by the Russians to show they could make a film as good as 2001.

    Lastly on censorship, the yanks could always cut the t & a. I'm currently going through the old Doctor Who serials on DVDs and am somewhat amused by the concerns of violence which led to it being selectively edited for foreign broadcast.

  2. In the USA, you can get away nudity on broadcast TV if you can argue a cultural reason. Public Broadcasting Service stations sometimes use this excuse with foreign material and documentaries.