The First Man to Walk in Space
 
Ambassador Ilya Rogachev of Russia presents a prize to Joe Mahlanga who won a quiz competition about the history of space exploration. Also pictured is Alexander Arefiev, Press Attache at the Russian Embassy

29 April 2021

The first man in space, Yuri Gagarin, paved the way for all space exploration that followed. In introducing the film ‘Spacewalker’ to guests, Ambassador of Russia to South Africa, Ilya Rogachev said that Gagarin “didn’t just write his name in history, he turned a whole new page on it.” This year marks 60 years since Yuri Gagarin’s legendary flight into space.

The Russian embassy in South Africa hosted a Yuri Gagarin photo exhibition and screened the Russian movie ‘Spacewalker’ to honour the 60th anniversary of Gagarin’s great accomplishment.

The scene was set at Apogee Boutique hotel in Pretoria to step into the world of space travel. After the then USSR successfully sent the first man into space the race was on to have a person ‘walk in space’ and the film ‘Spacewalker’ captivates in relaying the story of the great achievement.

Yevgeni Mironov plays the brave, resourceful, charismatic, determined Alexei Leonov, the first man to walk out into space. His big personality is balanced by realistic, sober, stoic mission commander Pavel Belyayev played by Konstantin Khabenskiy. The film builds on the cosmonauts’ bromance which is at the heart of the story and the success of the mission. The other relationship that develops is between the Chief Designer Sergei Korolev played by Vladimir Ilin serving as the surrogate father in mission control and the cosmonauts. No matter how the mission plays out, the obstacles faced, he refuses to give up on his "little eagles" right to the end.

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Leonov was a consultant on the movie which ensured that events were depicted as close to reality as possible. He died in 2019, two years after the movie was released.
 

This 137 minute film is full of excitement and suspense and glitches in the mission leaves one fervently rooting for the cosmonauts who have families waiting for their safe return. The spacewalk is carried out in the middle of the film and one is left in awe of the ingenuity of the Russian team who were, in 1965, able to successfully accomplish this feat, notwithstanding the many challenges that were faced and overcome.

Spacewalker is a must-watch, a remarkable drama about the space race told by the Russians.