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The Silent Star

3.6 out of 5 stars 25 customer reviews

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(Aug 23, 2005)
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Editorial Reviews

A film by Kurt Maetzig, based on Stanislaw Lem's novel The Astronauts. In this celebrated sci-fi classic, a mysterious object from outer space is found in the Gobi desert. An international expedition, dispatched to Venus to decipher the message it contains, discovers it is a declaration of war-- on Earth!

The first sci-fi film made in East Germany by the legendary DEFA film studio, THE SILENT STAR is a masterpiece in story, art and set design, and technology and was the forerunner of 2001: A Space Odyssey and, later, Contact. Based on the novel by Stanislaw Lem (who also wrote Solaris) and made during the U.S./U.S.S.R. space race set off by the Sputnik launch.

Special Features


Product Details

  • Actors: Yoko Tani, Oldrich Lukes, Ignacy Machowski, Julius Ongewe, Michail N. Postnikow
  • Directors: Kurt Maetzig
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Closed-captioned, Color, NTSC, Special Edition, Subtitled
  • Language: German
  • Subtitles: English
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated:
    Not Rated
  • DVD Release Date: August 23, 2005
  • Run Time: 95 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (25 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B0009PW3TC
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #207,347 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "The Silent Star" on IMDb

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: DVD
Well, after 40 some years I finally saw the uncut version of the European release, The Silent Star. The American title was, First Spaceship On Venus. Back around 1961 when I was a little boy my Mother took me to the theater in Toronto to see, First Spaceship on Venus. I loved it. When this movie finally came out on DVD I ordered it. Unfortunately the picture quality and sound was horrible. I bought it a second time when it was remastered. This copy was much better but it still was the American version that was edited, the voices were dubbed,and music added. The release of Silent Star on DVD finally shows this film as it was originally intended. The 20 minutes missing from the American version are here along with the orignal voices of the crew (with sub-titles) and the original music (what there is of it). I always thought that the film was cut because it ran to long. How wrong I was. This movie was made in a Communist Country and the Cold War was at it's peak. The parts that were removed were propaganda pure and simple. The cut parts of the movie talks about who the real threat is (the imperialist West) There are several references to the bombing of Hiroshima. At this point I need to explain the movie a little bit. Short and to the point, the inhabitants of Venus want to destroy all of mankind by using lethal does of radiation. Things go terribly wrong on Venus and they end up destroying themselves. See the reference to Hiroshima yet? The message is, we destroyed Hiroshima and will probably destroy ourselves. Of course they left out a slight detail called Pearl Harbor. For 40 years I just thought this was a SCFI popcorn eating movie. If you are a fan of, First Spaceship To Venus then this latest original version is a must have.Read more ›
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Format: DVD Verified Purchase
This review is for The Silent Star, in widescreen, the 95-minute version, German with English subtitles. This is the original, uncut, remastered special edition, which can be had on its own or within The DEFA sci-fi collection of three films. I’ve never seen the butchered version of this film so I can’t comment on that.

As far as this film goes, the first problem to overcome is the language barrier, if you don’t speak German (with English subtitles). The second problem is the subtitles. They are yellow in color, one line using the movie as a background, the lower line easily read against the black space below the film. As anyone knows, readability is nigh on impossible when words are plastered against a mix of colors, more often than not in motion. It also doesn’t help that most of the time they are not on screen long enough to read and comprehend. Once you get past that, the next obstacle is the blast of vitriol against the United States. One of the characters, a Japanese doctor (Yoko Tani), will keep mentioning Hiroshima, placed in context with the film’s overall anti-nuclear message. It’s not a subtle message; it’s slathered on thick and often, in a condescending fashion that never lets the viewers forget that they, the communists, are the good guys, while we, the Americans, are the evil people who unleashed THE bomb on poor Japan. Lest we forget, this was an East German production with particular political views. It is a product of its time and sentiment. When viewing this film you have to set that aspect aside to get to the good part, when they actually land on Venus. This is when the film comes alive. The design of the Venus is like viewing a Richard M. Powers illustration in motion. It is eerie and fanciful, aided by the brilliant hues used in the design. It’s for this section of the film only that I am keeping this DVD in my collection. The first part all but put me asleep. It’s not that I mind the message so much as the method of delivery.
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Format: DVD Verified Purchase
This movie dates from the height of the Sputnik era. Despite that, or maybe because it wasn't made by one of the then-superpowers, it avoids the panicky, militant tone of so many movies back then. It starts with an artifact found in Tunga (would that be Tunguska, in English?), determined to be of alien origin. An international research team forms to analyze the recording in the object, then to visit its source on Venus. In flight, it is decoded as an invasion plan - but saying much more than that would lead to spoilers. The plot as a whole tends toward the predictable, but has enough novelty in it, even now, to hold the viewer's attention.

The international crew looks strikingly like that on Roddenberry's initial "Star Trek" series a few years later: no two from any one country, one black, one woman (two different people this time), etc. The woman, Sumiko, is the medical officer - nurse - and is somewhat stuck in the female stereotype. Her makeup is always impeccable, if heavy, and she's the one allowed to have visible emotions. One of the other characters gives her the "you should be having babies" talk at one point, with the clear implication that he's offering the biologically necessary help. And yes, she has to be saved at least once. Outside of that, she has a postive role, and represents an interesting mid-way point between Flash Gordon's ineffectual Dale Arden and the wholly capable Ripley character from the Alien movies.

The movie does have a few cheesy moments, like visible strings bouncing the alien bugs around, wobbly ground carts, obligatory meteor storms, and 50s/60s optical effects. For its day and budget, though it's surprisingly good. This, like the Solaris movies, is said to be a film version of one of Stanislaw Lem's books, but I don't recognize which one.
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