This site’s been on hiatus for a little while, but I’m back, and I’m kicking it off again with a review of a hidden gem of Soviet science fiction: A Dream Come True. It’s an hour-long film from 1963, depicting first contact between humanity and an advanced alien race known as the Centurians. The aliens are peaceful, and the conflict of the movie is in fact a rescue mission—the Centurians, on their way to Earth after intercepting human radio signals, crash-land on Mars, and it’s up to a crew of Soviet cosmonauts to lend a comradely helping hand.
This movie is very much the antithesis of The Killing Star, which I reviewed some months ago. Its universe is a bright and friendly place, populated by bright and friendly beings, rather than a Darwinian killing field where first contact is death. Early on there is some debate on this point; Dr. Laungton, implied but not stated to be an American, claims that the aliens are likely to be hostile imperialists, while his Russian colleague Sergei Petrovich Kryov (not at all an expy for real-life Sergei Pavlovich Korolev, whose identity was a closely guarded secret at the time) counters that only a thirst for knowledge would drive another species across interstellar distances.
To briefly summarize the plot: a Soviet cosmonaut, on his off time, beams a song into interstellar space using something called a “crystalphone,” and aliens from the planet Centuria pick it up. They launch a spacecraft to make first contact with humanity. Their ship, however, crash-lands on Mars, and they are only able to send a probe to Earth, asking for help. The USSR sends the rocket ship Ocean to recover them. It suffers its own complications, however, arising from a solar flare, and one cosmonaut bravely sacrifices his life to complete the mission, so that his comrades can bring a living alien safely back to Earth. Triumph and jubilation ensue. Laungton, the pessimist, is proven wrong—the aliens have nothing but the best of intentions.
Altogether, A Dream Come True is a wild ride. The visuals are ambitious, though obviously dated, and there aren’t that many glaring scientific inaccuracies, which is surprising. The music is phenomenal, but then again I’m a sucker for old Soviet songs. While the aliens are goofy (see above), the ship and spacesuit designs are actually vaguely plausible, extrapolated as they are just a few years from the technology of 1963.
On the other hand, the plot gets hard to follow at points, possibly due to translation problems. I had trouble figuring out exactly what mishap befell the protagonists’ ship until I’d watched the scene a couple times (it was a solar flare). And while this is a propaganda piece—the Soviet system is viewed through heavily rose-tinted glasses, to say the least—it also feels refreshingly hopeful, earnest, and good-hearted, unlike your typical B-movie of the era. It very much carries a spirit of Space-Age optimism. Watching it, I gained a valuable look at the future from the other side of the Iron Curtain.
If you want to check out A Dream Come True for yourself, the full movie is available on YouTube, with subtitles. I highly recommend it; it’s a delightful slice of history.