Kin Dza-Dza! 1986 Soviet Steampunk?

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.

29 Responses to “Kin Dza-Dza! 1986 Soviet Steampunk?”

  1. Nadya Says:

    Is it weird that this film was made the same exact year that Burning Man first kicked off? I think so!

    My god, how did I miss this movie growing up? Officially mad at my parents for not showing me this. So many cute little details here… loved the nose-ring bells!

    Wow. Thank you for sharing this.

  2. Zoetica Says:

    Adding this for my mom, who WILL one day learn to comment on here :)

    “I adore this movie – so glad that you reminded me of it. He is one of my favorite director of this era. He made so many great movies.”

  3. Alysa Says:

    Oh my god I MUST SEE THIS!

  4. Ben Morris Says:

    Koo! Just watched Part 1 of the Google video version and am really enjoying it.

    I’ll take good writing and direction over special effects any day, even in science fiction. Witness Godard’s Alphaville, a wonderful distopian science fiction/film noir, no special effects whatsoever.

  5. Zoetica Says:

    Yes! Ben, agreed about the effects. And it doesn’t feel like they’re missing because the writing is so good. Glad you’re enjoying it.

    We actually had a little nod to Alphaville a couple of months back – here

  6. Skerror Says:

    I really really want to see this but I’m having a little dilemma. Is this the sort of film that should be treated as spectacle? I mean, should I wait til I can see it in a theatre or on my telly…or does google video get the job done. Thinking about watching an entire film on modern media summons my Lynch conscience:

    Yeah Ben, Alphaville is great! I guess in that same vein I would add Tarkovsky “Stalker” and “Solaris” as well. “Primer” too.

  7. Skerror Says:

    Ack no embed! This is what I meant: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wKiIroiCvZ0

  8. Ben Morris Says:

    Skerror: The google video is better than average quality for a webstream, but the film is definitely something that I want to re-watch in a less compromised manner and format. The writing shines through regardless though.

  9. Skerror Says:

    Thx Ben. Yeah, I prolly better watch it now while it’s fresh in mind. It could be a long time comin’ for this to get proper distribution.

  10. Tanya Says:

    Zoechka, thank you thank you thank you! One of my family’s most favorite films. To me “gravitzap” and “pepelatz” are legitimate words and boxes of matches make perfect sense as barter.

    You did a good thing introducing new people to this lovely movie :)

  11. q gauti Says:

    man, all this stuff is making me feel extra-russian right about now.

  12. Y Says:

    I’ve seen this movie before. Don’t know, didn’t quite like it but the bells were something special, made me laugh. I guess it was just too crazy for me…

  13. chaoflux Says:

    blammo:
    http://thepiratebay.org/tor/3420889/Kin-Dza-Dza_with_English_Subtitles_proper

    You will need a media player that supports subtitle files. [ie: BSplayer, ect.]

  14. M1K3¥’s b-log » Blog Archive » links for 2008-01-30 Says:

    [...] Coilhouse » Blog Archive » Kin Dza-Dza! 1986 Soviet Steampunk? wowzers.. this looks ace. wonder if it’s on BlueRay (tags: todo towatch steampunk soviet russian) [...]

  15. anton Says:

    гениальный фильм!
    “только у вас на планете люди говорят не то что думают, и думают не то что говорят”(с)

  16. Kin Dza-Dza! 1986 Soviet Steampunk? | Agostino Zamboni Says:

    [...] 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. original post coilhouse.net [...]

  17. Kale Kip Says:

    Love that corkscrew on the etselop-pepelatz.

  18. tigerloaf Says:

    thanks for sharing this, it has just become one of my favourite movies. an extremely original and unique film!

  19. Anja Flower Says:

    My goodness!

    Historical significance with personal value due to my being half Ukrainian Jew?
    Making fun of Communism?
    The eternal Russian expectation that it will of course go wrong, we only need wonder how?
    Story and character instead of effects?

    How did I not know about this already?

  20. Антон Says:

    Nice.

  21. DAko Says:

    Why i do not see early? .
    It’s look awesome.
    i’m watching it in goolgevideos, thanks for the links

  22. Vikio Says:

    Hey! I’m Ukrainian-American, but never saw this movie until 2009. Also kinda mad at my mom for not showing it to me sooner, but the WAY I saw it makes up for that. The first time I saw this gem was the first time I went to Burning Man festival! Talk about full-immersion, I felt I was in the movie. Seriously recommend watching this movie in the middle of the desert with a crazy bunch of people, lol. That, and the Rocky Horror Picture Show. :D
    *thumbs and toes up for crazy movie!*

  23. December Links « To Breathe Underwater Says:

    [...] Coilhouse Magazine found 1986 Soviet Steampunk! [...]

  24. Mickie Rat Says:

    This movie rules! I loved it.

  25. periklis Says:

    Hi, thanks for posting this. I saw “Kin-dza-dza” recently (& loved it), any other Soviet SF/ Weird films (Tarkovsky aside) that you’d suggest?

  26. D. H. Mellina Says:

    An absolutely classic. This film has served as an inspiration to my own independent film which has a similar steampunk feel. Thank you Professor Mamonova, who showed me this film in my Russian language class.

  27. Patsak Says:

    Well at last there is a DVD version that can be purchased and it has voice over English and Russian, also subtitles in 6 languages. 16:9 All regions. 35 Chatl.

    http://www.ruscico.com/dvd.php?lang=en&dvd=316

    It does take about 15 days to get it in US though.

  28. Marina Says:

    FYI: By 2011, this will be a cartoon.

    Russia is so steampunk:
    http://englishrussia.com/index.php/2010/08/20/fantastic-peat-harvesters/

  29. Solar Powered 3D Printer Says:

    [...] video reminds me a bit of Russian Sci Fi nightmare Kin Dza-Dza – which is the Russian version of Morons from Outer Space wearing a Kafka hat. Frustrating [...]