To the Stars by Hard Ways (1981)


To the Stars by Hard Ways (1981)
Cherez ternii k zvyozdam (original title)

The lone survivor of a derelict spaceship is brought to Earth to recuperate and regain her lost memories. Given the name Neeya, a series of events triggers her telekinetic powers and a number of flashbacks that reveal her origins on the planet Dessa. A human spaceship returns her to Dessa. The planet is found to be in ecological ruin and run by a businessman who intends to keep it that way. The crew of the ship, aided by their robot and Neeya's powers, defeat a monster unleashed against them. They repair the planet's ecosystem and Neeya remains to help rebuild Dessa while the crew returns to Earth.
Soviet Union
IMDb   6.0 /10
TheMovieDb    5.3 /10
FilmAffinity   4.8 /10
Director Richard Viktorov
Director Nikolay Viktorov
Writer Kir Bulychyov
Writer Richard Viktorov
Release Date1982-05-21
Runtime2h 28mins
Content Rating
CompanyKinostudiya imeni M. Gorkogo, Trete Tvorcheskoe Obedinenie
CountrySoviet Union

Per Aspera Ad Astra (film)

Per Aspera Ad Astra (Russian: Через тернии к звёздам, USA screen name - Through the Thorns to the Stars; Humanoid Woman) is a 1981 Soviet science fiction film directed by Richard Viktorov and based on a novel by Kir Bulychov.


In the 23rd century, the starship Pushkin discovers a derelict alien spaceship of unknown origin. The alien craft's crew are identical humanoids created by an advanced cloning process. Most are dead, but one woman is found in a catatonic state. The leader of the mission, scientist Sergei Lebedev, brings her to Earth. He settles her in his house and names her Neeya.

Neeya suffers from memory loss and cannot recall anything of her past. As she adapts to life on Earth, she discovers she has a variety of telekinetic powers. A friend of Lebedev, Prof. Ivanova, begins studying Neeya's neurophysiology and finds a special neurocenter in her brain that can be triggered remotely. Neeya is visiting the beach with Lebedev's son Stepan when Ivanova triggers the system. Neeya loses control of her body and falls into the water. The device also triggers a clear memory of her home planet, where she sees a man explain the purpose of the control system, giving him control over the clones. The flashback ends when Stepan pulls her from the water.

Neeya joins an archaeological expedition, where she has another flashback that reveals she is from the planet Dessa. She returns from the expedition to find that a diplomatic mission from Dessa has just arrived at the spaceport to ask for help from Earth. She learns they will return to Dessa on the Astra, and stows away on the ship. By chance, both Stepan and Prof. Ivanova are also aboard.

The Astra encounters Neeya's ship, identified by the Deesan diplomats as the Gaya. A transmitter for the neuro-command system has been left on, forcing Neeya to teleport aboard without a spacesuit. She manages to disable the signal before passing out, and is rescued by Stepan. One of the diplomats, Rakan, explains that the Gaya was the last ship to leave Dessa. Aboard was Professor Glan, who was building an army of clones and awaiting a signal from rebel forces on the planet that the time was right to return and take over.

The Astra reaches Dessa to find a planet that has been stripped of all minerals, leaving the air and water poisoned. Life on the surface is only possible due to Turanchoks, who runs a gas mask factory out of Glan's former Institute. Turanchoks is unhappy with the presence of the Earth ship, which has the power to clean up the mess and put him out of business. After the humans successfully test a way to clean the air, he poisons the only remaining water supply and blames it on them, inciting a riot. Due to Neeya's intervention, the plan is not wholly successful.

Turanchoks activates one of Glan's control devices and uses it to force Neeya to place a bomb on the Astra. Rakan attempts to stop him, but is stabbed by one of Turanchoks' agents. Near death, Rakan crawls off and releases Glan's last and most deadly experiment, a blob-like mass which begins killing everyone in the lab, including Turanchoks. Outside, Ivanova attempts to take the bomb from Neeya, but is shot by Turanchoks' agent. The shock of her death breaks the control's effect on Neeya. Neeya's powers, aided by the remaining crew of the Astra and the ship's robot, defeat the monster. The Astra leaves for home, leaving Neeya behind on a mended planet.

Variant cuts

A heavily-edited English-dubbed version, and entitled Humanoid Woman was featured on an early episode of Mystery Science Theater 3000. This cut had almost an hour of footage missing.

On December 27, 2001, a new restored version directed by Nikolai Viktorov, the son of the original film's director, was released as the 20th anniversary edition. The release featured revised special effects by the Paradox company and an all-new soundtrack in Dolby Digital. This version was cut by twenty-five minutes in order to speed up the dynamics of the plot and excise Soviet ideological context.


  • Yelena Metyolkina as Neeya
  • Uldis Lieldidz as Sergei Lebedev
  • Vadim Ledogorov as Cadet Stepan Lebedev
  • Yelena Fadeyeva as Maria Pavlovna
  • Vatslav Dvorzhetsky as Petr Petrovich
  • Nadezhda Semyontsova as Professor Nadezhda Ivanova
  • Aleksandr Lazarev as Professor Klimov
  • Aleksandr Mikhajlov as Dreier
  • Boris Shcherbakov as Navigator Kolotin
  • Igor Ledogorov as Ambassador Rakan
  • Igor Yasulovich as Torki
  • Gleb Strizhenov as Glan
  • Vladimir Fyodorov as Turanchoks
  • Yevgeni Karelskikh


CountryCompanyAir dateTitle
United StatesInternational Film Exchange, Celebrity Video Presentations1982–1987Per Aspera Ad Astra.
ItalyCanale 5, Rai Fiction1984, 2009Per Aspera Ad Astra.
FranceFrance 21995À travers les ronces vers les étoiles
JapanToho, Fuji TV, TBS1994, 2008星にとげスルー
SpainTelecinco, TVE1995, 2006A través de las espinas a las estrellas.
South KoreaMBC2010별빛으로 가시를 통해
Czech RepublicČT12012Skrze utrpení ke hvězdám
CroatiaHrvatska radiotelevizija2013Kroz teškoća do zvijezda
GreeceAlter Channel2009Κορίτσι-ρομπότ
SwedenTV42004Stjärnklar prinsessa Niya