The Age of Pioneers
|Age of Pioneers|
|Directed by||Dmitriy Kiselev|
|Music by||Yury Poteenko|
|Edited by||Anton Anisimov,|
|Budget||RUB 400 million|
|Box office||RUB 561 million|
The Age of Pioneers (Russian: Время первых, romanized: Vremya Pervykh, lit. "Time of the first ones"), also known as Spacewalk, is a Russian historical drama film about cosmonaut Alexei Leonov, the first human to perform a spacewalk. Leonov himself served as a consultant for the film. The Age of Pioneers was directed by Dmitriy Kiselev and co-produced by Timur Bekmambetov and Yevgeny Mironov, the latter also starred in the leading role.
The Age of Pioneers was released on April 6, 2017, to widespread critical praise in Russia. The movie grossed RUB 561 million in Russia against a 400 million budget, and is considered a box office bomb.
The film is set in the 1960s, during the Cold War and the Space Race between USSR and the United States. The Soviets plan to send a man into space. During the construction of the craft, a technician is killed and the engineers question the safety of the craft. A test vehicle, representing the Voskhod 2 spacecraft is destroyed two weeks before the official launch and Soviet engineers cannot identify the causes of the explosion and sudden loss of communication. Ex-WW2 pilot, Pavel Belyayev, and military test pilot Alexei Leonov are called to man the Voskhod 2 craft but during a skydive, Pavel injuries his leg landing and is not considered fit; instead, he is replaced by a new, young and immature cosmonaut (Yevgeny Khrunov), much to the dismay of Alex. Fuelled by anger and determination, Pavel trains himself to become stronger and eventually is re-admitted into the space program, much to the delight of Alexei.
The Voskhod 2 launches into space and Alexei is ordered to commence his spacewalk. The spacewalk is successful and the Soviets celebrate but Alexei's suit begins to inflate, rendering him inflexible and unable to enter the airlock. The ship loses communication with ground control when it enters a dead zone. Alexei defies instructions and enters the airlock head first but the outer hatch fails to fully close. He forces himself to turn within the airlock and manages to close the airlock right before his oxygen supply runs out and he passes out. Pavel drags him into the pod and succeeds in reviving him. The two are then instructed to orbit for 22 hours until Cycle 4, an automatic system that will land them. Pavel detaches the airlock, but it causes the Voskhod 2 to spin slightly. Before Cycle 4, Pavel and Alexei begin to feel queasy and find that the oxygen partial pressure is uncommonly high. Ground control states that the system mistakenly detected a leak and began pumping pure oxygen into the cabin. They are told to find and disconnect a yellow wire to disable the system.
Pavel passes out from oxygen toxicity, and Alexei takes control, reaching for the wire. The oxygen causes Alexei to hallucinate about his times as a young boy, running in a field, searching for the nest of a bird. He manages to twist the yellow wire but passes out before it is disconnected. During his hallucination, he remembers of reaching out to the bird who injured him, this moment in his hallucination causes him to flinch and disconnect the yellow wire. The system stops pumping oxygen into the cabin.
Both cosmonauts awake to find that Cycle 4 has failed to run and Soviet engineers and mathematicians on the ground fail to respond with an explanation, concluding that the spin of the craft may have caused the problem. The cosmonauts are permitted to use manual mode to re-direct the ship. After Pavel successfully stabilizes the craft, it re-enters the atmosphere and is detached from the instrument section. The craft lands by parachute into the Ural mountain range, far from the expected landing site. A search party is sent after the cosmonauts, but their radio signals are not picked up. A radio fan on Sakhalin accidentally picks up their radio signals and phones the Space Agency, notifying them of the cosmonauts' position. A nearby rescue helicopter is ordered to search for them but is unable to see them due to severe weather conditions. The helicopter is called back to base, but with the cosmonauts close to death, the crew spot Alexei's flare and come down to rescue them.
The two cosmonauts arrive by plane to the Agency to meet with their wives and children. Later they are paraded through Moscow where countless civilians cheer them.
- Yevgeny Mironov as Alexei Leonov (the cosmonaut)
- Konstantin Khabensky as Pavel Belyayev (the commander of the ship)
- Vladimir Ilyin as Sergei Korolev (general designer)
- Anatoly Kotenyov as Nikolai Kamanin (lieutenant-general)
- Alexandra Ursulyak as Svetlana Leonova
- Yelena Panova as Tatiana Belyayeva
- Alexey Morozov as Gherman Titov (the cosmonaut)
- Yury Itskov as Boris Chertok (designer)
- Vladimir Malyugin as Valery Bykovsky (cosmonaut)
- Alexander Novin as Yevgeny Khrunov (cosmonaut)
- Yuri Nifontov as Boris Rauschenbach (mechanical physicist)
- Aleksandr Ilyin as Vladimir Markelov (helicopter pilot)
In 2015, the project received financial assistance from the Cinema Foundation of Russia on a non-returnable and refundable basis, Alfa-Bank also provided financial assistance. Filming took place in two stages: from July 1, they filmed in pavilions and the summer outdoor scenery, in November – shooting of space and landing of cosmonauts in the taiga.
Two-thirds of the film were directed by Yuri Bykov, but he was fired from the project by producers Timur Bekmambetov and Yevgeny Mironov. After this, Dmitry Kiselev continued work on the film. Alexei Leonov himself became consultant of the picture.
Principal photography finished at the end of 2016.
The Age of Pioneers grossed RUB 145 million in its first weekend, below early expectations. It was attributed to unsuccessful marketing campaign. However, movie's second weekend drop was very small – less than 15%, as it grossed additional RUB 124 million due to good word of mouth. By the end of its theatrical run, The Age of Pioneers grossed in Russia RUB 561 million against a 400 million budget, which is below the two-budget watershed required for a movie to break even or generate profit.
The movie received critical acclaim in Russian media. According to review aggregators Megacritic and Kritikanstvo, it received no negative reviews and has an average rating of 7.5/10. Most Russian media, such as Argumenty i Fakty, Film.ru, Rossiyskaya Gazeta, InterMedia, Kommersant, The Hollywood Reporter, and Nezavisimaya Gazeta, among others, praised the movie's acting, directing, special effects and patriotism, while Time Out and Novaya Gazeta, among some others, only gave it mediocre ratings. Many reviews compared the movie to Apollo 13.
- First Man, a 2018 biopic docudrama film about Neil Armstrong's NASA career
- Apollo 13, a 1995 docudrama film about the 1970 Apollo 13 disaster
- The Right Stuff, a 1983 docudrama film about the U.S. side of the Cold War Space Race
- Salyut 7, a 2017 docudrama film about the 1985 rescue of Soviet space station Salyut 7
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