Blandly retitled as Voyage to the End of the Universe in some English-speaking markets, the snappily-monikered Ikarie XB-1 (the title alludes to Icarus, the Greek mythological character who flew too close to the sun) is a rather wonderful trailblazing sci-fi from 1963.
Set a couple of centuries in the future, it follows a spaceship on a mission to a distant star system in the hopeful search for life. Technically brilliant, there’s a devout attention to detail across the board, particularly in the impressive production design (the influence on Stanley Kubrick is plain to see); only a robot called Patrik who looks like an antique toy has dated poorly.
But Ikarie XB-1’s real strengths lie in its ideas: the script ponders the impact of relativity, of extraterrestrial life, of long-term space travel's unhinging claustrophobia. A classic of Eastern Bloc filmmaking, it vividly summons that early thrill of discovery – and dread of the unknown – that the space programme once invoked. [John Nugent]