Cheap war propaganda. Some words about the remake of the Russian movie “A Guest from the Future”

Russia has recently released the film “A Hundred Years Ahead”, based on the book of the same name by Kirill Bulichov. Formally, it is considered to be a remake of the 1980s Soviet TV series “Guest from the Future”, but even in comparison, it looks like cheap propaganda for a war that has no end and makes any bright future impossible.

Нова Аліса

New Alice.

A remake of “Guest from the Future”

On April 18, Russia released the fantastic film “A Hundred Years Ahead”. Formally, it is an adaptation of the 1978 story of the same name by Kir Bulichov. However, what is more important for everyone is that this movie is essentially a remake of the 1984 Soviet mini-series “A Guest from the Future”. For many people born in 1980-90, the latter became the embodiment of the Soviet myth of a bright communist future and therefore still occupies a prominent place in Russian propaganda of the so called “common past” of the nations associated with Russian empire.

At the same time, the myth of “A Guest from the Future” appeals to truly bright feelings: the belief that someday our world will finally overcome poverty and war using high technology and we will be able to fly peacefully to other planets. This Soviet series and its main character, Alisa Selezneva, is a good illustration of the Soviet mythology.

Радянське видання книги
The Soviet edition of the book “A Hundred Years Ahead”. Source: Wikipedia

It is quite logical to assume that Russia can use the new movie to drag Ukrainians into some “common future”. That’s why, despite our categorical rejection of the culture of the aggressor country, we decided to watch “A Hundred Years Ahead” and figure out if this movie worth watching anyway.

How Alice joined the cadet corps

In fact, not much of the plot of Bulichov’s story, as well as the first film adaptation, remains in the new one: a couple of schoolchildren from our time, a girl and her father from the future, a couple of space pirates from the same place and time, and a general outline about traveling first a hundred years into the future and then back.

In the original book, and in the Soviet TV series, although the future is described in detail, there is no mention of how it was achieved. Even the fact that they have communism or socialism cannot be said for sure, because no one flies the red banners.

Кадр з радянської екранізації
A still from the Soviet film

The authors of the new film decided to explain where the technologies that made life a paradise came from and did so in the most stupid way possible. A lost alien came into contact with a Moscow schoolboy participating in an e-sports tournament, and as a result humans joined some Space Federation and technological goodies started falling out of the sky.

If you’re feel uncomfortable about some Space Federation annexing new planets… mind that the allusions to the present situation do not end there. As it turns out, there is still a war with pirates near the borders of this future federation, and they are still not defeated, even though special forces are constantly being sent against them.

Moreover, Alice’s mother served in such a special forces unit and disappeared during some “special operation.” And now Alice herself wants to join the cadet corps, and from there she was sent either implants or just some devices that allow her to fight like the main character of the anime “Ghost in the Shell”.

Аліса з нового фільму вихваляється, які штуки їй подарували при подачі заяви до кадетського училища
Alice from the new movie proudly demonstrates the gadgets received when applying to the cadet school

Of course, all of this was not in the original source or in the first film adaptation. Alice, like her father, studied biology there. It’s just that she had athletic abilities on par with modern Olympic champions, and for several decades now, this fact has been blowing the minds of Russian science fiction fans.

For some reason, the simple idea that a girl who regularly flies with her father in search of alien animals needs all this for a purely peaceful purpose did not occur to them. After all, perfect physical characteristics are quite necessary to jump on alien rocks and trees in order to first find alien animals and then prevent them from eating you.

However, Russian fans have put forward their own theory, according to which Alice is a genetically modified soldier, because why should you cultivate strength and agility for if not for war? This is apparently where the idea of her magic bracelets from the cadet school came from, and it was embodied in the new film.

В новій екранізації у Аліси є мама-спецпризначенець. Разом вони влаштовують бійку в московській школі
In the new film adaptation, Alice has a special forces mother. Together they start a fight in a Moscow school

Kolya Gerasimov and time travel

The second protagonist of the movie, which is actually the first, is a Moscow schoolboy named Kolya Gerasimov. Like Alice, he was made older in the movie, but this is not the key point. In the book, and by and large in the Soviet film adaptation, the main motive for his behavior is curiosity. At the same time, he realizes that it can easily lead him somewhere wrong, but the desire to see the mystery with at least one eye wins out.

It is in this state of internal struggle that he first opens a room in his neighbor’s apartment, then presses a button in the time machine he finds there, then goes outside the building where it is located in the future… then performs more and more of the same innocent actions, until we see him running away with a valuable artifact, and being chased by two space pirates.

All of this was interesting and made sense because it revolved around the general idea that time travel is inaccessible to everyone, that it is very difficult to predict the moment when an incredibly interesting excursion turns into an adventure whose consequences you cannot imagine.

Єдина сцена фільму, в якій Коля хоч якось цікавиться, на що схоже майбутнє
The only scene in the movie in which Kolya is at least somewhat interested in what the future looks like

The movie doesn’t have any of this. The heroes find the space time machine in a school physics classroom during a scene that can compete with “a schoolboy picked up a signal from an alien civilization during an e-sports tournament” — so stupid and illogic it is. No reflection on sticking his hand into a dark hiding place where it is unknown who hid the gravitational anomaly… and then the time machine merged with Kolya’s body…

By the way, once in the future, Kolya immediately falls into Alice’s arms. That’s why the filmmakers reduced the entire line of cognition of the future to one short static scene. Kolya is not interested in the future. He rushes into the war with the pirates and within a few scenes simply forgets about the beautiful future, as well as the dangers of playing with time.

Space pirates and the endless war in time

We should also mention space pirates. In the original source, they were all caught within a few months, and their foray to earth was their last act of hooliganism before being arrested. And the time traveling of Alice, and Kolya and pirates is just a result of a bug in the security system of some scientific institute, which has full control over some technology and, in the end, it is its employees who put an end to this whole story.

Космічний пірат Глот
Space pirate Glot

However, in the new Russian movie, two space pirates are part of a threat that the Space Federation has been unable to overcome for at least a decade. They land freely on Earth and try to seize time travel technology, which seems to be theirs to some extent.

For some reason, only the two of them go back in time to confront Moscow schoolchildren, and of course, they find themselves in a situation where they can change the bright future into a horrible dystopia, where the Earth is a base for space pirates and the population survives by building weapons for them. Space terrorists and fascists operate under the cover of Glot’s authoritarian regime.

It is also worth noting that the movie has a lot of dark scenes in general. And in combination with the fights that take up most of the screen time, it all adds up to the atmosphere of an endless war in time for the right to decide what the future will be like.

Саме в такій кольоровій гаммі знято більшість сцен у фільмі
Most of the scenes in the movie are shot in this color scheme

Obviously, this is a very painful topic for modern Russians. They have believed so much in the myth that their bright future was stolen from them by some dark forces that they simply cannot imagine tomorrow as anything but fighting among the ruins.

The new film adaptation of one of the most iconic Soviet books is not about the fact that somewhere out there, everyone who believed in Russia has a bright future. All that the aggressor country can offer people is an endless war against those who have allegedly stolen something from them. And in this war, they spare no one and nothing, including historical developments, which not only can but must be rewritten by force.

That is why we do not recommend this film. Young people who did not experience this layer of Soviet culture will see nothing but propaganda in it. And people of the older generation simply won’t be able to refresh their childhood memories, because the themes that once made the book and the first film adaptation iconic are simply not there.

A famous song from the Soviet film adaptation is featured in the film. But why it is there remains unknown. After all, everything else in the film suggests that, despite claims about Russia’s stellar future, it does not actually have one. Therefore, no road ahead looks really tempting.