States of Weightlessness: Cosmonauts in Film and Television

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This essay looks at post-Soviet constructions of Soviet cosmonauts in documentary and feature film. The cosmonaut is a figure of tragedy, tied to an ideological system that is doomed to fail, his heroism a futile venture into an empty void. It is, however, this tragedy that also makes the cosmonaut aesthetically appealing. The documentary Stan niewazkosci (State of Weightlessness; 1994) overdubs cosmonauts bemoaning the perils of outer space with footage of the Earth from Mir and other orbiting platforms. The combination of tragedy and beauty adds up to a sublime cinematic experience. American features have also used this idea of the tragic cosmonaut. In Armageddon (1994) tragedy turns into comedy, as the cosmonaut aboard a labyrinthine, clunky old Mir is played for laughs. In such representations the cosmonaut's loner qualities are redeemed from his place in history.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)205-224
JournalScience Fiction Film and Television
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2009

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