Ah, Soviet socio-political satire, ah Russian dystopia. Could anything be greater than a combination of both, in movie format? Unlikely, says Kin Dza-Dza! – a minimal and clever sci-fi masterpiece from the ’80s. Written and directed by revered director Georgi Daneliya, this film from my early years was only allowed to see the light of day thanks to its creator’s reputation. The plot revolves around the story of two oddballs who accidentally teleport to the mysterious planet Pluk in the Kin Dza-Dza galaxy. Fiddler and Uncle Vova unwittingly activate a device belonging to a hobo who claims to be an alien, and the fun begins.
Pluk’s inhabitants are a strange bunch; far advanced in technology, though scarcely evolved socially, with command of only a 2-word vocabulary. They look exactly like humans, have the power of telepathy, yet use a tool that divides all being into two groups – superior and inferior. Uncle Vova and Fiddler have many interesting encounters in store, and much to overcome if they’re ever to make it home.
Kin Dza-Dza! is rich with [not entirely subtle] critique of Communism and the poignant bitter humor I expect from Soviet Era films along with crunchy puns, rust, dust, and a Mad Maxy landscape throughout. Steampunk costumes and gadgets make appearances and are actually utilized in a way that makes sense! It’s a shame this Russian cult favorite isn’t better known – I deem it worthy of the pickiest sci-fi fans, provided they can get past the complete lack of any special effects.
- On IMD [#16 on their top SciFi films list, by the way]
- Watch it subtitled on Google video: Part 1, Part 2
- Wikipedia page