Voyage to the End of the Universe

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Ikarie XB-1
Ikarie DVD.jpg
Czechoslovak theatrical release poster
Directed byJindřich Polák
Screenplay byPavel Juráček
Jindřich Polák
Based onThe Magellanic Cloud
by Stanislaw Lem
StarringZdeněk Štěpánek
Radovan Lukavský
František Smolík
Dana Medřická
CinematographyJan Kališ
Edited byJosef Dobřichovský
Music byZdeněk Liška
Filmové Studio Barrandov
Distributed byÚstřední půjčovna filmů
American International Pictures (USA)
Release dates
  • July 26, 1963 (1963-07-26) (Czechoslovakia)
  • September 1964 (1964-09) (U.S.)
Running time
86 minutes
Budget6 Million KČs[1]

Ikarie XB-1 is a 1963 Czechoslovak science fiction film directed by Jindřich Polák. It is based loosely on the novel The Magellanic Cloud, by Stanisław Lem. The film was released in the United States, edited and dubbed into English, under the title Voyage to the End of the Universe.[2]


In the year 2163, the starship Ikarie XB-1 (Ikarus XB-1) is sent to the mysterious "White Planet" orbiting the star Alpha Centauri. Travelling at near-light speed, the journey takes around 28 months for the astronauts, although the effects of relativity mean that 15 years will have elapsed on Earth by the time they reach their destination. During the flight, the 40-strong multinational crew must adjust to life in space, as well as dealing with various hazards they encounter, including a derelict 20th century spaceship armed with nuclear weapons, a deadly radioactive "dark star" and the mental breakdown of one of the crew, who threatens to destroy the spacecraft.



While it shows some influence from earlier American ventures such as Forbidden Planet (1956), the film was also influential in its own right — critics have noted a number of similarities between Ikarie XB-1 and Stanley Kubrick's film 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968) and it is believed to have been one of the many 'space' genre films that Kubrick screened while researching 2001.[3]

The 1963 children's film Clown Ferdinand and the Rocket [de], from the TV series about the clown directed by Jindřich Polák, was produced using the props of Ikarie XB-1.[4]

The English-language version[edit]

Ikarie XB-1 is best known internationally through an edited and English-dubbed version which was given a limited theatrical release in the USA in 1964 by American International Pictures.[2] The AIP version also occasionally screened on television in the USA and other countries at various times over the ensuing years but, apart from its screening at Trieste, the original Czech version was rarely seen outside Czechoslovakia until its release on DVD in 2005.

AIP made numerous alterations for the English-language version of the film, which it retitled Voyage to the End of the Universe. Almost ten minutes of footage was cut, the names of the cast and staff in the opening credits were anglicized, and the ship's destination was renamed "The Green Planet".[2]

However, the biggest change was AIP's recut of the closing scene, which created an entirely different ending from the original. In the Czech version, as the Ikarie approaches its destination its viewscreen shows the clouds around the White Planet parting to reveal a densely populated and industrialized planet surface. For the English version, AIP excised the last few seconds and substituted stock aerial footage of view of southern Manhattan and the Statue of Liberty. According to one reviewer, Glenn Erickson, AIP's edits and script changes were intended to create a gimmicky "surprise" ending, revealing that the Ikarie and its crew have come from an alien world and that the "Green Planet" is in fact Earth.[2]


Ikarie XB-1 was a hit at the 1963 Trieste Science Fiction Film Festival where it won the main prize.[2]

In a BFI Southbank retrospective on Soviet science fiction film, British director Alex Cox praised Ikarie XB-1 calling it "beautiful and austere" and "remains one of the most original and exciting science fiction films ever made."[5] Cine Outsider called it "a gripping, entertaining and character-driven drama".[6]

Author Trace Reddell wrote in his book "the film is in fact a prescient instance of the maturing of the genre. (...) Ikarie XB1 is intended to be sophisticated fare for adult viewers, a serious platform for a complex and critical set of intertwined stories about the various crew members aboard Ikarie XB1."[7]


In 2005, Filmexport Home Video released a DVD of the original Czech version of the film with English subtitles and presented in its original Panavision 2.35:1 anamorphic widescreen aspect ratio. The DVD included opening credits from the US version and two scenes as a bonus material to show the differences.

In 2013, UK company Second Run released a DVD of the original Czech version with English subtitles in a same transfer.

A new 4k digitally restored version by Czech Film Archive was selected for screening as part of the Cannes Classics section at the 2016 Cannes Film Festival.[8]

In 2017, a digitally restored edition was released by the Czech Film Archive in Prague on DVD and Blu-ray, with Czech, English and French subtitles.[9] Second Run released a Blu-ray in 2019.


  1. ^ "Kultovní a přelomový film Ikarie XB-1, klasika filmové, české sci-fi stále dokáže, co říct". Náš region. Retrieved 15 August 2022.
  2. ^ a b c d e "DVD Savant Region 0 Pal Review: Ikarie XB 1".
  3. ^ Bowden, Richard. "Ikarie XB-1 review". Video Vista.
  4. ^ "Clown Ferdinand and the Rocket (1962) – Filmový přehled" – via
  5. ^ Cox, Alex (June 30, 2011). "Rockets from Russia: great Eastern Bloc science-fiction films". The Guardian. Retrieved August 22, 2016.
  6. ^ Slarek (17 September 2013). "Ikarie XB 1 DVD Review". Cine Outsider.
  7. ^ Reddell, Trace (2018). The Sound of Things to Come: An Audible History of the Science Fiction Film. University of Minnesota Press. ISBN 9780816683130.
  8. ^ "Cannes Classics 2016". Cannes Film Festival. 20 April 2016. Retrieved 21 April 2016.
  9. ^ Ikarie XB 1 : drama kosmické lodi. Bonusy/Bonus films (DVD video, 2017) []. August 3, 2017. OCLC 1127645269 – via Open WorldCat.

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