Gosti iz galaksije

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Gosti iz galaksije (1981) is a darkly humorous science-fiction film that operates as an allegory for the dangers of living in one’s own imagination. Writer and director Dušan Vukotić takes this concept and a modest budget to create a strikingly original film, brimming over with visual ingenuity. Despite the misogynistic undertones, Gosti iz galaksije manages to be both entertaining and engrossing largely due to the unique costume and creature designs.

The film follows a hotel clerk and would-be science-fiction novelist Robert (Žarko Potočnjak) whose “telurgy” (power of imagination) brings his novel to life. Suddenly Robert and his girlfriend Biba (Lucié Žulova) must contend with the robot woman Andra (Ksenija Prohaska), her child companion Targo (Rene Bitorajac), and Targo’s toy space monster Mumu (Petr Drozda). It isn’t long before people are turned to cubes, wedding parties are decapitated, and tourists are stripping out of their clothes as the travelers from the Arkana galaxy wreck havoc.

Gosti iz galaksije is first and foremost a male fantasy, Robert’s fantasy. Andra resembles Brigitte Helm’s mechanical woman in Metropolis (1927); a kind of idealized version of the female form as sexual object. But Andra also lives to serve Robert. She vacuums his apartment, makes him a meal, and pours him coffee without question. When Robert touches her the room turns into a psychedelic swirl of blue and musical notes emit from her golden body. The scene in which Robert caresses Andra is one of sexual intercourse abstracted.

Of course Robert’s fantasy costs him very little, but to those around him it costs everything. His pursuit of his dream to be a writer takes on a physical form in the mischievous Targo. Robert’s ambitions could have easily driven Biba away, but in Gosti iz galaksije it is the literal manifestations of Robert’s creativity that do that job. Targo shoots tourists with laser eye beams, turns Biba into a cube, and sets his toy Mumu loose on a wedding party.

The terrors wrought by Targo and Mumu are rendered by Vukotić as pure slapstick. When a man’s head is lopped off by the monster Mumu it lands in a bowl of soup, then casually observes that he “is missing something”. Likewise when Mumu steps on the head of a man his skull is flattened out like in a Bugs Bunny cartoon yet he lives. The world of Gosti iz galaksije is a cartoon world actualized in the flesh.

Gosti iz galaksije doesn’t really say more as a movie other than that one cannot live in their own imaginary world. It’s a simple concept that Vukotić milks for all its worth. Gosti iz galaksije is like a children’s film in how it explores its conceptual core to the extreme without adding any depth or nuance. Luckily Gosti iz galaksije is visually inventive enough to sustain the viewer’s attention so that the film never over stays its welcome.