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Tonight I’m examining the film “On the Silver Globe.”

Where to start? The Polish science fiction film is a stunning, mind-bending and unique work of pure cinema. But its backstory is almost as intriguing as the film itself "On the Silver Globe" began multiple locations in the Soviet bloc in the mid 1970s, with the film crew traveling from Mongolia to the shores of the Baltic Sea and plumbing the depths of a disused salt mine which stood in for an alien underground temple. 

An adaptation of the landmark Polish science fiction series The Lunar Trilogy by Jerzy Żuławski, the grand uncle of “On the Silver Globe” director Andrzej Żuławski, was funded by the communist Polish government and planned to be a showcase for the possibilities of Polish cinema. However, officials shut down production about 70 percent through the shooting citing budget issues (but perhaps there were ideological issues as well).

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Years after filming ended, when the sets were destroyed and the costumes had rotted away, Żuławski edited the footage together, filming unrelated street scenes with narration describing the parts of the story that went unfilmed and premiered the film at the 1988 Cannes Film Festival.

Since a 2016 restoration, appreciation for the film has grown, illustrated by the recent release of the European behind-the-scenes documentary “Escape to the Silver Globe.” 

Vice magazine called "On the Silver Globe" the greatest science fiction movie never made. While the final result is not the film Żuławski set out to make, the film is a visually striking and elusive work of art. It's a one of a kind movie that defies not just categorization but description. 

East European film scholar Daniel Bird joins me to explore "On the Silver Globe," "The Lunar Trilogy" and Zurawski’s unique and expressive approach to filmmaking. Daniel Bird is co-founder of the post-production and production company Acid Pictures, through which he has co-produced restorations of Jane Campion’s "Peel," Stephen Sayadian’s "Dr. Caligari" and Peter Weir's "Picnic at Hanging Rock" He directs the Hamo Bek-Nazarov Project, through which he has produced Temple of Cinema, an installation featuring outtakes from Sergei Parajanov’s "The Colour of Pomegranates," Parajanov Triptych (a programme of restored shorts from Armenia, Ukraine and Georgia), and a restoration of Maria Saakyan’s "Mayak." He is also the co-founder of Friends of Walerian Borowczyk, which recently worked with MUBI to distribute a restoration of "Brief von Paris."

He directs the Hamo Bek-Nazarov Project, through which he has produced Temple of Cinema, an installation featuring outtakes from Sergei Parajanov’s "The Colour of Pomegranates," Parajanov Triptych (a programme of restored shorts from Armenia, Ukraine and Georgia), and a restoration of Maria Saakyan’s "Mayak." He is also the co-founder of Friends of Walerian Borowczyk, which recently worked with MUBI to distribute a restoration of "Brief von Paris."