On the Silver Globe (1988) Poster

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As intriguing and imaginative as it is impenetrable.
Yaaatoob1 February 2012
This ambitious Polish science-fiction film first began production in 1975, but in 1977, with eighty percent of filming complete, the Polish government ordered production to stop and all sets, costumes and footage to be destroyed, over fears that some themes present in the film were an allegorical criticism of Poland's communist rule. The surviving reels of footage, smuggled out of Poland by the director and crew, lay dormant until the fall of communism and, although incomplete, the film was finally released in 1988. As much of the footage was lost or indeed never filmed, the narrative was incomplete and in a daring move Żuławski decided to narrate the missing scenes and include their destruction as part of the narrative, this narration being presented over footage of a busy Polish city that zips by the camera as Żuławski fills in the gaps, also providing clear dividing points between the three main acts.

The film itself deals with the cyclical nature of existence, the ethics of freedom, the power of belief and the dangers of allowing that belief to fuel ideology, all told through the anthropology of an emerging society created when three astronauts from Earth crash land on a distant planet. For the film's first act we follow the point of view Peter who records events on a video-camera, as he, Marta & Thomas attempt to survive and start a new life in the barren, alien wilderness. After Marta becomes pregnant and gives birth to Thomas' baby, the astronauts realise that the child is growing at an accelerated rate. The film jumps forwards erratically as we are presented with snippets of a society emerging in front of Peter's camera lens, as the astronaut's children grow to maturity and themselves begin to procreate. The children begin to deify their astronaut parents, who seemingly never age as generations pass. The first act ends with Marta and Thomas dead and Peter, now referred to only as 'The Old Man', alone in a society of his children who do not understand his ravings, nor why he will not die like the others and ultimately they begin to resent his presence. Eventually, Peter returns to his space-craft and sends his hours of recorded footage back to Earth.

The second act revolves around Marek, the owner of the space agency that funded the first mission, who himself heads to the planet to escape the pain of a lost love, only to find a savage, incomprehensible and divided society of people who have been awaiting his prophesied arrival. He is regarded as their messiah and through his eyes we are introduced to the advancements in the beliefs and structure of the society since we last saw them. Marek becomes embroiled in his role as deity, guiding the society under his rule and leading the charge against a race of bird- like creatures from across the sea called 'Sherns' who steal women to mate with and produce mutated half-human, half-Shern offspring. The final act takes place primarily on Earth, where another astronaut named Jack is attempting to discern what befell Marek's mission to the planet. He is caught up in an affair with Ava, the woman for whom Marek left Earth, and in a fit of drug addled depression he himself heads to the planet, only to find the people's messiah, Marek, crucified in grisly fashion. Ultimately, Żuławski is dealing with some heavy themes here, asserting that humanity has a need to continually create and destroy his gods, that without belief there cannot be understanding and that without understanding their can be no happiness.

The world Żuławski presents is stark and beautiful, the Baltic shores, Caucasus mountains and Mongolian desert providing the barren and isolated landscapes that so capture the imagination throughout the film, but also it's the wonderfully designed costumes and props and cold, grey-blue cinematography that lend these places a true alien feel. Overall 'On the Silver Globe' is as intriguing as it is impenetrable. The frenetic camera work launches us directly into the midst of the chaos on-screen, events later explained more by action than dialogue as characters descend further into erratic and emotional madness, exploring the reasons for their being and the world around them through pained and awkward ad-libbed philosophical diatribes. While the narrative is most certainly confused, partly because of the unique journey of the film's production and release, and partly because of the confounding dialogue, the over-reaching story told is one that still conveys a powerful message about the nature of belief in human society and the desire to comprehend our existence. While most certainly not a film for everyone, 'On the Silver Globe' is a tough two and a half hour experience to endure, but one that repays it's viewer's diligence with some compelling food for thought and some truly beautiful cinematic scenes.
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The Broken Artifact
loganx-229 February 2008
Warning: Spoilers
It's difficult to judge this film accurately because it is a fragmented damaged piece of an artifact, but like Micheloangelos armless David or the defaced Sphinx, the crack in the Liberty Bell, etc, broken things can still hold a remarkable power, perhaps more so than if they had remained intact. Polish authorities halted production of this film, confiscated and burned props, setts, costumes, and footage, leaving about 25 percent of the remaining film, instead of making a documentary about the horrors that befell him ala Lost In La Mancha(though Zulawski did have significantly more footage Gilliam), he includes the destruction of the film as part of the narrative. Those scenes which aren't intact are summarized through voice over from the director himself as hand-held cam(still dizzying Zulawski) tours an unmanned Polish city.

The story of On The Silver Globe is an adaptation of "The Lunar Trilogy" written by the directors Uncle Jerry Żuławski between 1901 and 1911(never published in English but popular in Europe), about a Space Crew landed on a distant moon inhabited by primitive humanoid creatures, who find a device which shows them the voyage of an earlier space flight to the planet made by pilgrims who crash or are seeking a new life(it's never clear at least in the film)where after the struggle to survive, begin the process of procreation, accept the children born on the planet grow at an extremely accelerated rate generations passing in less than decades. The first hour or so of the film is all p.o.v. handicam shots ala "Cloverfield", "The Blair Witch Project", "Diary Of The Dead", etc, we see only what the astronaut's see as they begin rebuilding civilization in their own fashion. We observe the culture, customs, architecture, and yes even fashion of the newly developing humans over generations which seem to pass in the time it takes the astronauts to grow facial hair. Because the astronauts age at a much slower rate, they become Godlike elders of the newly emerging(from incest) humans. The anthropological goings on in the background, are more interesting by far than the dialog which I can understand why other's might say sound like the ramblings of mental patients obsessed with meaning, feeling, and Godliness.

At first I thought the dialog was the result of hallucination and the stress of surviving in a new completely isolated environment, then as the astronauts die off, I thought again, this is is the result of this last mans increasing isolation(unable to communicate with his offspring who are in fear/awe of his existence, "Why don't you die?", as he wanders the village despondent). Then later I considered it was an affect of the planet, maybe even the Shern projecting some kind of madness(will address get to this later), and inevitably considered there was no reason for the obtuse dialog which does sound more often then not dubiously sane, as well as the possibility that their madness is somehow supposed to be a reflection of our own, as Native and Earth-born alike all seem equally psychotic, exploring the extremities of their environments, the former in collective ways war, torture, orgies, the latter in personal ways drugs, dementia, delusions of grandeur, but I digress.

The second half of the film shows us one of the astronauts who discovered the origins of the planet, being selected as the messiah( think of Earth as Heaven and you get the Biblical allusion to The Resurrection), by the natives who we come to realize are the descendants of the first mission. The new Messiah indulges in his Godking status, and deals with the threat posed by winged telepathic creatures called Sherns who kidnap and mate with native women to produce...lizard men? What follows is espionage, decadence, war, and delirious parade of fantastic and occasionally grotesque images(p.o.v. shots of men impaled rectally on 100ft stakes with their intestines hanging out, crucifictions, etc.)

All and all On The Silver Globe is a messy movie, brilliant visual poetry and an interesting anthropological concept somewhere between Ursula K Lu Guine and Alejandro Jodorowsky but predating them both by almost fifty years(date of the original story), coupled with an at times incoherent plot and obtuse dialog. Factor in that this film wasn't completed for political reasons, which Zulawaski does, each time he shows us real people walking around as he describes what the astronaut's did next, and you've got an interesting if imperfect jewel of a film. If completed in full it probably would not have been a masterpiece, though the first hour are some of the most naturalistic and oddly surreal images of coming to a new planet that I have ever seen in any SF film, however it would definitely have a loyal place as a cult classic snugly on DVD shelves somewhere between "The Holy Mountain", and "Dune". For adventurous literate film seekers a fragmented modern story of the cyclical nature of time, the destructive nature of hero worship and deification, and human cultural anthropology. Like the film found by the astronauts "On The Silver Globe" is a damaged and incomplete artifact, sacrificed and crucified before it's time like it's protagonist, while warning of the abuses of power and ideologies we accept and propagate which allow them to flourish, and which inevitably lead to this films own cancellation.
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Otherworldly and Beautiful!
Wetbones4 January 2004
I finally managed a track down a copy of this film after looking for it forever. And not only did it live up to expectations, it surpassed them in every way possible! I had no idea what to expect from a Polish sci-fi film from the 70ies and the first thing I noticed were the lavish costumes, extremely impressive sets and great make-up. If someone would attempt to pull off something similar in the US today it would cost insane amounts of money. This is a film by Adrzej Zulawski so it figures that there is a lot of philosophical dialog and religious metaphors aplenty. In a way I was reminded of the films of Alejandro Jodorowsky and maybe if he had made his adaptation of DUNE, as he planned for many years, it would have turned out to be something like THE SILVER GLOBE. The copy of the film I watched was taped from the German TV station 3 Sat who actually paid for subtitling the film in German! The rather poor picture quality only stressed the otherworldly beauty of the images. Often the film felt like a transmission from another time or maybe even another planet. It is a truly unique gem, even in it's unfinished form, and a film that is overdue for rediscovery.
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are you sure andrezj done it this way?
khungus-114 January 2012
only a truly gifted artist could make something this uncompromisingly weird-it makes lost highway look like an episode of meet the press.okay,let's take a story about a few astronauts leaving earth and landing on a distant planet.the astronauts die off relatively quickly and their children grow up at an accelerated rate-the children spring into being btw,no copulation is ever hinted at much less shown-so quickly as to reach their tenth (or so) birthdays in a matter of days.the children welcome the next visitor,presumably from the planet poland,as a god...and i'm not sure what happened after that...that last sentence which probably took you about ten seconds to read is the only synopsis for this 2hr30min minute film i can muster.and i have no idea if what i wrote is even remotely accurate.to say i didn't really follow this movie is besides the point,its greatness lies not in its storytelling abilities so much but in the tough to discern netherworlds of aura and atmosphere.whatever the holy mountain,electra,my love,mulholland drive,blood of a poet or the other 2 giants of polish sur-reality,the saragossa manuscript and the hourglass sanatorium have-this movie has too.i lack the ability to describe sufficiently all the films i've just mentioned so all i can really tell you is that after i watched on the silver globe i knew that i had liked what i had seen.yes,it's totally insane but it's not bad...just don't ask me why....
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A rare, original, thought provoking masterpiece of Science Fiction.
arterybg18 March 2018
Crazy original film.. trying to encapsulate almost everything about the human condition.. from simple human emotions, trust, love.. to opposition, hierarchy, religion, politics..how we perceive the world, the relationship between man and a woman, heavy philosophical and transcendental scenes.. the first 30 minutes are almost unbearable though.. at one point it got so boring, i could not sit still, i was going mental.. some people left the cinema.. mainly because of the heavy overly poetic and dramatic dialogue.. the rest is a joy for the imaginative mind.

It is based on a Sci-Fi novel, written by the grandfather of Zulawski. The novel had a great influence on Stanislaw Lem as he was growing up.

Mind-blowing stuff. A must-see for the serious cinephile.
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strange and haunting
mike_wreck8 August 2007
first off, the copy of the film that i was able to track down, was in polish with a very difficult to follow English voice-over narration/dubbing that spoke everyone's lines. Yet, despite the tedious dubbing issue and the frustrating image quality on the bootleg i tracked down, the wonderfully unsettling lunacy of the whole affair was able to shine through and really hit home for me.

One earlier reviewer, in an attempt to discredit the film, described the actors' performances as similar to the ramblings of mental patients. I thought about it a bit, and concluded that, yes, all of the performances did have an element of hysteria and frenzy that someone might attribute to psychotics, but for me, thats part of what made the picture so extraordinarily unsettling (in the best way). The point-of-view style of camera-work and delivery that carried the first half of the film was really unnerving. The entire thing had a dizzying sense of madness that threatened to crumble at almost any moment, but managed to hold together long enough (around 3 hours) to hit you with the savage power of its staggering ending.

It had more going for it than simply being "crazy" though, as i felt it also offered a fascinating look at the cyclical nature of human civilization, and perhaps more so, the ultimate hopelessness of it. It is a terrifyingly bleak film.

if you can track down a copy of it, and feel as though you can handle the often tedious viewing experience, its definitely worth it. There's nothing else out there quite like it.
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So impressed that I bought the book "Polish for beginners" to learn the language
mk70078 April 2004
A SF Movie that was started in 1977 - as long as I know from a polish group of people that worked at the Arts Academy.

The project was then stopped due to problems. 10 years after, in 1987, somebody collected the original tapes which were about 75% of the script.

What you see is this tapes glued together. The other 25% you see somebody driving around in a polish city holding a handcam out of the window of the tramway or running around with it and a speaker is reading the corresponding part of the script.

It is a SF Movie that deals with Men and contact to other races, men land on an distinct planet. They live there. They leave their land to see what is behind the sea. They fight with the other race. They got sex with the other race. They get cruzified.

The basic in this movie is the Question "why?".

It is a low-cost production with very effective pictures, sometimes bizarr. 3SAT, a german cable television channel made german subtitles and aired it in about 1995. I was lucky to videotape it and looked for it since then in Search engines. 2004 is the first time that I found information on IMDB.
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Important Sci-Fi film seen by few !
NateManD23 February 2005
It's difficult to describe the film The Silver Globe to the average person. Many people describe it as being similar to Jodorowsky's unfinished Dune project. The version I found had no subtitles, so I had to guess what was happening, but that didn't bother me since it was unlike any film I had seen. The movie takes place in a post apocalyptic future that has almost been destroyed by man. People decide to start over, and they build a village on the moon and choose a leader. They're are many disturbing and unforgettable images of people shouting at the brink of their sanity, bizarre bird creatures and a brutal crucifixion scene on a cross that's almost 100 ft high. There is one scene where people are in the air with poles stuck up them, the poles are almost a couple stories high. (Hard to describe but think of the impalement scene in Cannibal Holocaust 100 ft. in the air) The movie has some of the most amazing cinematography and insane camera angles. Fan's of directors like Jodorowsky, Tarkovsky and David Lynch won't be disappointed.
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some adds, no summary
berger-1114 January 2001
This is one of the most impressing films I ever saw. Not only the fantastic sound of the polish language (i saw the film with german subtitles)but the great scenery of the mongolian landscape lead me to this opinion. This film is one example of films which are not just the "american standard cinema movie".
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galensaysyes27 March 2008
I suspect this may be a kind of fake. It's all that remains of a film whose production was stopped in the middle: a science fiction film that, to judge from this paste-up, might have been something like Stalker done in the style of Weekend. Unfortunately, the sequences that were never shot included virtually all of the science fiction and most of the action, so that two-thirds of what's left concentrates on three people trekking through barren landscapes and going crazy into the camera, as in Blair Witch Project. I found it difficult to track the progress of their degeneration, which all seemed very much the same. Based on this, I'm not surprised the Polish film bureaucrats canceled the production, only that it took them as long as it did. Now the extant footage has been edited into what the DVD case calls a reconstruction. But is it really? Or is it a new construction using the old materials? What made me begin to suspect this was that throughout the film, while the director summarizes the unshot sequences in voice-over, the screen shows what seem to be outtakes, but the last of them closes on a shot of the director, taken contemporaneously. So were the other interpolated sequences shot then or forty years ago? And if forty years ago, were they to have gone in where we see them or elsewhere, and as we see them or in some other form? Or were they just scrap? Much of the rest consists of long tracking shots of scenery, which also look like outtakes. And the film is edited in a style now fashionable--with series of multiple cuts on the same angle, a few seconds apart--which I don't remember being the fashion forty years ago. This made me wonder whether the director had cut the film as he would today, rather than as he would have back when. I also wonder whether he had done so partly to disguise the incompleteness of the available material. And where did the music come from? If the film was never finished, it can never have been scored; and to me the music sounds new, too. So all in all I don't know how to judge the "reconstruction" on the basis of what it was to have been because I don't know how much I'm seeing of that. If the gaps could have been bridged with staged readings of the missing portions of the script, maybe read by the surviving actors, the film might come together into something; as it is, it seems to be little more than what another, better known film was deliberately intended as and named for: ashes of time.
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One of the worst films I have ever seen.
ShoeBuckle6 September 2010
I have seen many bad films but it is hard to remember any which equaled this one. The film has very little if anything going for it. Like other parts of the film the beginning of the film wasn't needed. There is little continuity to the scenes. It will be a real struggle for even the most die-hard film lover to get through this monstrosity. It lasts two and a half hours long and is horribly written. The film tries to be poetic but the script is stilted and the story line becomes constantly disjointed. (The fact there is one-fourth of the film which was never shot doesn't help matters.) In place of lost scenes viewers will see modern shots of life on Earth as the director narrates what the missing scenes would have looked like. The acting is overdone and is laughable if it weren't for the fact they are trying to be serious. I get the idea that the actors were allowed to ad-lib their lines which go on for an inordinate amount of time. I'll do my own ad-libbing right now which will give you an idea of what is in store:

A rainbow is like a light never reaching its essence. It is the light of life that glows that way. Life is that way everyday in the morning. I like the morning it gives me a feeling of freshness. Feeling fresh I can see the light.

Yes it is that bad. As previously stated the film has several scenes which should have been cut or not used as they add nothing to the storyline. The lighting is very dark and shot with a blue filter to the point that fire looks green. The soundtrack (or lack thereof) will also make you question the director's ability to bring a coherent story to the screen. The only joy I experienced while watching came after the two hour mark when I knew it was almost over.
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Impossible to watch !
Robert S-312 June 2007
This film is as far from Hollywood style as Poland is.

There are some impressive ideas in the movie (like some surreal scenery) but unfortunately everything else is a total scrap.

Film was shot on East-German ORWO film of deplorable quality giving it a look worse than amateur 16mm shots.

Sentences are completely absurd - you are lucky if you do not understand polish ! Acting reminds mad mumbling of psychiatric clinic patients....

I was a small kid when I fist learned about this production - it was in 1978, they were taking some shoots in Cracow where I lived. I was a fan of SF, watching then Space 1999, Star Wars and Japanese films about Godzilla. So obviously I was very excited about this SF production taking place in my city. Then there were no knows about the movie. Ten years later it was show on Polish TV - I was angry, because it disappointed me totally.

It is "unwatchable" !
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They can't all be winners
EnoVarma4 April 2018
In the introduction, the director declares that his movie was "murdered" back in '77. On this rare occasion, I find myself on the side of the producing party. "On the Silver Globe" is as ambitious as it is insufferable. The majority of the first act is shown as a collection of recordings by a group of astronauts getting to know their new habitation. This is all done in hand-held close-up, and it takes over an hour. Most of what is shown to us is manic and deranged behaviour as the characters stumble into madness. (It has to be said, that these astronauts are a shame to their community. They should be men of science capable of analytical thinking, but instead they become mystics within five minutes from landing.) Very little of the dialogue is sensible in any way. That's a bit too much to ask of the audience. In my case, I could take about 80 minutes of it, then decided to try and spend my time better elsewhere. Zulawski is not without talent, by all means, but this project was misguided. I hope "On the Silver Globe" doesn't become a cult film - a classic it most definitively is not.
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