Alexey Leonov (Evgeniy Mironov) makes a spectacular emergency landing in his jet fighter aircraft and his skill is rewarded by being included in the Soviet Space Program. It is at a time when the Soviet Union is making significant ‘firsts’ in the competition with the USA to land the first man on the Moon.
One milestone ‘first’ was to release an astronaut into space beyond the confines of his spaceship. To beat the US, the Soviets decided to undertake such a mission in 1965 rather than 1967.
From the beginning, Alex’s partner Pavel Belyeyez (Konstantin Khabenskiy), a 40-year-old veteran, is injured during training and with the help of Alex fights his way back into the program. Pavel is wary of Alex, he says he is fearless, and that’s dangerous.
Once the men are prepared, an unmanned test module is put into orbit and successfully simulates a space walk mission, but disintegrates soon afterwards. As a consequence Chief Designer Sergey Korolev (Vladimir Ilin) wants to delay the mission by a year, and send up test dummies in the meantime.
Alex is having none of this, he makes an impassioned speech to the effect that from his childhood, and during World War II, his family and the Soviet people had to suffer and take risks to achieve victory. He is so determined; he says he would gnaw a hole in the hatch to walk in space.
In the face of this Sergey gives the green light to the manned mission. Voskhod 2 launches on 18 March 1965 crewed by Alex and Pavel. It achieves Earth orbit and at first Alex’s spacewalk goes according to plan, then things unravel faster than the umbilical cord that connects him to the space capsule.
As they cope with the many life endangering problems, there are flashbacks to Alex’s childhood, and scenes with his wife and family who have little idea of what is going on once the live TV broadcast is suddenly cut off to show ballet.
At one stage Sergey is reminded that the astronauts are soldiers who might well have to die to stop their spaceship literally falling into enemy territory.
This is a real-life story of extreme bravery against all odds, with wonderful cinematography and special effects that take us back to the Cold War battle for supremacy in space. It gives a Soviet perspective of what sacrifices were made to be the first, and is equal to the US viewpoint displayed in such movies as the The Right Stuff and Apollo 13.
THE SPACEWALKER / DIRECTOR: DMITRIY KISELEV / SCREENPLAY: SERGEY KALUZHANOV, YURIY KOROTKOV, OLEG POGODIN / STARRING: EVGENIY MIRONOV, KONSTANTIN KHABENSKIY, VLADIMIR ILIN / CERT: 12A / RELEASE DATE: 30TH OCTOBER