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aka Gagarin. Pervyy v kosmose
Directed by Pavel Parkhomenko
Russian language with English subtitles

GAGARIN: FIRST IN SPACE tells the story of Russian cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin, who in 1961 became the first man in space. This dramatisation of the true story follows Yuri from his beginnings as a pilot at flight school. He and 19 of his fellow pilots are signed up to the Soviet space program where they undergo a series of medical tests to see who’s fit enough to enter the unknown. 20 candidates are whittled down to just 6 as the race to be the first in space is not only between the pilots but also other countries.

Last year, award-winning space film GRAVITY hit the screens and whilst the visual FX were a thing to marvel at, I found the story quite flat to the point of being non-existant. Where Gravity disappointed me, GAGARIN: FIRST IN SPACE captivated me with its emotional story and the scientific breakthrough for mankind. The viewer gets to know Yuri as a kid living in harsh conditions under German occupied Russia, having hopes and aspirations for a better life for himself and a yearning to start a family of his own. Yuri wasn’t simply a man, but a man with connections and ties: a wife, children, parents and siblings – just like any one of us. If anything were to malfunction in space, it would no doubt be life threatening. The scientists and technicians of the Soviet space program put together an aircraft to the best of their abilities, but with no-one knowing exactly how a human may respond to being in outer space, some of the variables were out of their control.

Being a Russian film about a Russian hero, I’m so thrilled that the filmmakers decided to keep the Russian language track in the movie, with English subtitles used for the UK release. The filmmakers also edited the film to run at 108 minutes, which is the same length of time that Yuri Gagarin orbited Earth in the Vostok rocket.

Yaroslav Zhalnin stars as the smiley Lieutenant Yuri Gargarin and he couldn’t have been a better choice. As Yuri, he’s charismatic and passionate about flying and his family, and is seen as a beacon of hope for not only the Soviet space program but his fellow pilots and the nation. As the tension intensifies as the launch date nears, Yuri keeps a level head. When he’s finally sent into space, he learns to deal with the situation that many could only imagine to be in.

With inspiring visual FX and a mesmerising story of man’s first venture into space, GAGARIN: FIRST IN SPACE is a gripping thrill ride from start to finish and thrusts you into the time and place of one of man’s greatest achievements.

Rating: ★★★★★★★☆☆☆

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About Bat 4394 Articles
I love practical effects, stop-motion animation and gore, but most of all I love a good story! I adore B-movies and exploitation films in many of their guises and also have a soft spot for creature features. I review a wide range of media including movies, TV series, books and videogames. I'm a massive fan of author Hunter S. Thompson and I enjoy various genre of videogames with Kingdom Hearts and Harvest Moon two of my all time favs. Currently playing: The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt, Yakuza Zero and Mafia III.

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