The tremulous roar of rocket engines followed by the slow ascension of the Soyuz rocket and moments later it punches through a bank of clouds.. The Soyuz launch while breathtaking, is portrayed as routine reflecting its reliability for Russian and later ISS missions. This filmic vignette provides a strong counterbalance to the Salyut 7′s unreliability.
Salyut 7 the movie has a unity of storyline and production unlike Gravity. It marries the pre-digital world with the mystique of Soviet technology and weaves it seamlessly into filmic storytelling. Knuckle tension and human vulnerability has everything to do with hardware breakdown and freezing space capsules as it has to do with human attachment and separation anxiety. It also helps if you are orbiting earth at 470+ km with no guarantee of returning alive.
Special effects abound but are never too glossy because they’re about authenticity – you can sense the retro hardware fanatics drooling over every detail. Two thirds of the film is actually shot in zero gravity.
And considering the budget was a mere $15 million yet the production isn’t compromised. As the cosmonauts ponder their fate during weightlessness while sucking floating water globules and swigging smuggled Smirnoff, the voyage has the required Russian edge.They are not so much good guy heroes of the U.S. as off-beat individualists.
In 1985 a Soviet space station is about to crash to earth unless successfully intercepted and recovered. A mission to rescue Salyut 7 is mounted but numerous space personnel repeatedly fail the gruelling test exercises. Finally, two candidates are selected – one is a retired cosmonaut deemed mentally unfit while the other an engineer with an advanced knowledge of the ship. This unlikely team, while facing enormous difficulties provides the only chance for a successful mission.
An edge-of-your-seat space thriller coupled with true to life SFX. The real story of 1980’s soviet rocketry succeeds in part because of the production but especially because of the persuasive acting of Aleksandr Samoylenko as mission controller and Vladimir Vdovichenkov as cosmonaut commander Vladimir Fyodorov.