Despite an official hatred for all things capitalist and decadent, the reality on the USSR’s ground was somewhat different. Obviously, most of this love was hidden (bootleg copies of the Beatles, for example), but a lot was above ground and relatively open.
One example of this was Pepsi, who we recently wrote about. Pepsi was initially allowed into the USSR in the 1970s, and at the end of the ’80s the Reds were so desperate for their cola fix 3 billion dollars worth of naval equipment was even swapped for the stuff. That’s a serious Pepsi addiction.
Another rather baffling example of this was Star Wars, which achieved official release in the Soviet Union and spawned Soviet Era Star Wars posters, which you can admire below:
These were the original Star Wars films somewhat edited but how God (George Lucas) mostly intended them.
What did the Soviet authorities think about Star Wars?
Well, there wasn’t all that much officially said at the time, but I think the leaders were looking at the Empire as being “capitalist” whilst the proletariat of the USSR probably felt the evil Empire had more in kin with the old CCCP. Regardless Star Wars still remains huge in the former USSR, although what the average ex-Soviet thinks about Jar Jar Binks has not been studied particularly hard.
Were There Any Soviet Stars Wars RIP-Offs?
There are many GREAT rip-offs of Star Wars, with one particular Turkish version even stealing the exact shots from the destruction of the death star, bit Soviet copes tended to be more subtle and class conscious.
In general, Soviet films are completely underrated, with some such as Come and See among the best films ever made (in my humble opinion). In fact it is widely accepted that Come and See was not only the inspiration for Saving Private Ryan, but realistic war films in general.
Of course, this meant that the Soviet Union also took its whole take on the sci-fi genre producing some great, and other not so great films. There is no direct Soviet equivalent to Star Wars, but we have picked one released around the same era that certainly took at least a little inspiration from Lucas and co.
Per Astra ad Aspera (1981)
The Latin title of this film means Through the Thorns to The Stars. A reconnaissance craft – named Pushkin in homage to one of Russia’s greatest poets encounters a derelict starship. Inside is a humanoid woman with the inhuman abilities of teleportation and telekinesis.
The film is set in a future successful Soviet Union (even the best film makers aren’t clairvoyant) with good old fashioned Soviet male heroes eventually saving the day. Per Astra ad Aspera is not Star Wars at all, but it is interesting to see quite how much influence managed to cross over the Iron Curtain.
Star Wars in North Korea
North Koreans see a lot more western films than you’d expect, with surprising ones being very popular such as Bend it like Beckham and even Titanic! I’ve lost count of the amount of very tough North Korean makes who like to speak of the tragic romance that was Jack and Rose.
Star Wars has not been officially released in North Korea. I personally have yet to meet a North Korean to debate the Star Wars saga with, but who knows what the future might hold? I’d personally love to discuss just how shit The Last Jedi was with my pals north of the 38th.
To learn more about the myriad world of North Korean Cinema check this article or to see the old USSR upfront check out our Soviet Tours.