Inquest of Pilot Pirx

Test pilota Pirxa

Film poster
Directed by Marek Piestrak
Written by Vladimir Valutsky
Stanisław Lem (story)
Starring Aleksandr Kaidanovsky
Music by Arvo Pärt, Eugeniusz Rudnik [1]
Release dates
  • 1979 (1979)
Running time
104 minutes
Country Soviet Union

Inquest of Pilot Pirx (Polish: Test pilota Pirxa, Russian: Дознание пилота Пиркса, translit. Doznanie pilota Pirksa, Estonian: Navigaator Pirx) is a joint Polish-Soviet 1979 film directed by Marek Piestrak based on the story The Inquest by Stanisław Lem from his short story collection More Tales of Pirx the Pilot. It was adapted for film by Vladimir Valutsky. It is a joint production by Dovzhenko Film Studios, Tallinnfilm, and Zespoly Filmowe. Music by Arvo Pärt, sound by Aleksander Gołębiowski, cinematography by Janusz Pawlowski. Runtime 104 min.[2]

Plot summary

Spaceship pilot Pirx is hired for a mission to evaluate some nonlinears (androids with "nonlinear" characteristics) for use as crew members on future space flights. Pirx and his crew, made up of nonlinears and humans, are sent out to launch two satellites into the rings of Saturn. There is a near disaster and the human crew are almost killed. Upon returning to Earth there is an inquest to determine if Pirx was responsible for the "accident." In the end, it is found that one of the robots caused the malfunction in an attempt to kill the human crew members, with Pirx cleared of all charges.

In this tale Lem puts forth the idea that what is perceived a human weakness is in fact an advantage over a perfect machine. Pirx defeats the robot, because a human can hesitate, make wrong decisions, have doubts, but a robot cannot.[3] A similar idea is present in Isaac Asimov's Robot series, where putting a robot in a position where it cannot chose between the Three laws of robotics fries its positronic brain.

Differences between the story and the film

The biggest difference is that the movie tells the story in chronological order with the inquest taking place at the end while the short story starts with the inquest and then goes back in time from there. The movie also includes an assassination attempt on Pirx to prevent him from accepting the mission while this is not present in the short story. Another difference is that in the movie Pirx and his crew are attempting to launch two satellites into Saturn's rings while in the short story they are trying to launch three.[4]



Test pilota Pirxa was awarded the "Golden Asteroid" Big Prize on the XVIII International Cinema Festival at Trieste 1979.

External links

Inquest of Pilot Pirx at the Internet Movie Database


  1. "Program/Film/ THE PILOT PIRX TEST DIR. Marek Piestrak"
  2. Inquest of Pilot Pirx at the Internet Movie Database
  3. Swirski, P. (2008). The Art and Science of Stanislaw Lem. McGill-Queen's University Press. p. 161. ISBN 9780773575073. Retrieved 2015-04-04.
  4. Lem, Stanisław: More Tales of Pirx the Pilot, pages 90–161. Harcourt Brace & Company, 1982.
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