Pavel Klushantsev

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Pavel Klushantsev
Born Pavel Vladimirovich Klushantsev
February 25, 1910
Saint Petersburg, Russian Empire
Died April 17, 1999(1999-04-17) (aged 89)
Saint Petersburg, Russia
Occupation film director, producer, screenwriter, author

Pavel Vladimirovich Klushantsev (Russian: Па́вел Влади́мирович Клуша́нцев; 25 February 1910 in Saint Petersburg, Russian Empire – 17 April 1999 in Saint Petersburg, Russia) was a Russian film director, producer, screenwriter and author who worked during the Soviet Era. A self-taught special effects engineer, far ahead of his time, Klushantsev devised many effects and techniques used by major motion pictures for decades to come.

George Lucas during his 1988 visit to the Soviet Union credited Pavel Klushantsev as the "godfather of the Star Wars".[1]


Klushantsev graduated from the Leningrad Fototechnikum in 1930 and worked for Belgoskino as a cinematographer for four years. In 1934, he began working at Lenfilm / Lennauchfilm, where he became a director and producer, primarily making science educational films including his visionary film – Road to the Stars. Prior to this film, Klushantsev's films were strictly factual, but here, the film builds on fact and extends it. The film becomes a hybrid documentary blending science with fiction edging firmly into science fiction. This film's special effects – the scientific accuracy of depicting weightlessness, construction in earth orbit, a rotating space station, and rocket travel to the moon – were the cutting edge visual effects of their time.

Planet of the Storms (Planeta Bur), Klushantsev's only feature film, was released in 1962. For this film, Klushantsev is especially noted for his meticulous design and creation of "John the Robot". Based on Chester E. Macduffee's 1911 heavy Cast-Aluminium Diving Suit, it had over 42 points of articulation on its major body joints – one of the most technically complex robot costumes of its time. The film was subsequently expanded and re-edited by Roger Corman for American distribution – as Voyage to the Prehistoric Planet (1965) by Curtis Harrington and as Voyage to the Planet of Prehistoric Women (1968) by Peter Bogdanovich. In both these versions, the original scenes drew acclaim.

Subsequent to Planet of the Storms, Klushantsev fell into disfavor in USSR and returned to making more science-based film shorts. He also authored popular books related to space, including K Drugim Planetam! [To Other Planets] (1959), Stantsiia "Luna" [Station "Moon"] (1965), and All About the Telescope (1980).

Klushantsev's works are featured among Russian Fantastika.

An English language documentary on Klushantsev's life and achievements, The Star Dreamer, was released in 2002 by Danish Vesterholt Film and TV.




  • Lynn Barker & Robert Skotak: Klushantsev: Russia's Wizard of Fantastika (pt. 1). American Cinematographer, Vol. 75, No. 6, June 1994, pgs 78-83.
  • Lynn Barker & Robert Skotak: Klushantsev: Russia's Wizard of Fantastika (pt. 2). American Cinematographer, Vol. 75, No. 7, July 1994, pgs 77-82.
  • Evgeni Kharitonov & Andrei Shcherbak-Zhukov. Na ekrane-Chudo: Otechestvennaya kinofantastika i kinoskazka [The Wonder on the Screen: National Fantastic, SF, and Fairy Tale Films]. Moscow: NII Kinoiskusstva, V. Sekachev, 2003.
  • Lars Movin: Road to the Stars [New Release / Star Dreamer]. Film [Danish Film Institute] #25, November 2002, pgs 6-7.
  • Klushanstsev: K Drugim Planetam! [To Other Planets] (Detgiz [Leningrad], 1959)
  • Klushanstsev: Stantsiia "Luna" [Station "Moon"] (Izd-vo "Detskaia literatura" [Leningrad], 1965)
  • Klushanstsev: All About the Telescope (Progress Publishers [Moscow], 1980)

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