Les Années lumière (1981)

Switzerland, France
35mm film, Eastmancolor
mono. French

A Swiss/French fantasy film directed by Alain Tanner.

Plot Summary

A young man meets an old man who claims that he has been taught to fly by birds.


Directed by: Alain Tanner
Phoenix, Slotint
Produced by: Pierre Héros
Written by: Alain Tanner
Based on the Novel La voie sauvage by: Daniel Odier
Director of Photography: Jean-François Robin
Editor: Brigitte Sousselier
Music by: Arié Dzierlatka
Production Sound Mixer:
Make-up Co-ordinator: M. Autret
Production Designer: John Lucas

Trevor Howard (Yoshka Poliakeff)
Mick Ford (Jonas)
Bernice Stegers (Betty)
Henri Virlojeux (lawyer)
Odile Schmitt (Dancer)
Joe Pilkington (Thomas)
Mannix Flynn (drunken boy)
Don Foley (cafe owner)
Gabrielle Keenan (girl at village dance)
John Murphy (man in bar)
Jerry O’Brien (bar owner)
Louis Samier (trucker)
Vincent Smith (policeman)

Alternative Titles

A años luz – Spain
Fényévek távolában – Hungary (television)
Fényévekre innen – Hungary
Gli anni luce – Italy
Isik Yillari Ötesinde – Turkey
Lata swietlne – Poland
Lichtjahre entfernt – West Germany
Light Years Away – USA
Lysår herfra – Denmark
Os Anos de Luz – Portugal
Valovuosien päässä – Finland


New Musical Express 16 January 1982 p.19
Tanner has shifted to the English language and Ireland as a location for Light Years Away – although, if this is supposed to add up to a ‘commercial’ shift, I very much doubt the likelihood of success. Light Years Away is a visually pleasant but thematically very strained project, an Art film every inch of the way, which never looks like transcending its portentous base and establishing some kind of diverting aesthetic . […] I found it a lumpy and unhelpful odyssey; not my cup of metaphysical fatalism at all. – from a review (Silver Screen: Light Years Away) by Ian Penman

Films & Filming no.328 (January 1982) pp.31-32
By setting his film in the year 2000, stripping it of many of the conventional elements of dramatic tension and narrative interest, and by setting out to create a modern Icarus myth, Tanner has clearly abandoned the realist, almost documentary mode of films such as La Salamandre and Le Retour d’Afrique. Similarly the state of Mankind now seems to preoccupy him much more than the state of the Swiss nation. As a result, Light Years has none of the ‘exotic’ interest of his earlier work. But it does have its own brand of exoticism; it offers a vision of the future which is simultaneously familiar and weird, urban landscapes (and indeed all that man has constructed) which are all waste and decay, with Dublin a mass of graffiti and the garage a pile of rotting cars; but a rural setting of stunning beauty overcast by a strange, mauve light. […] Light Years Away may not be to every audience’s taste. The ending may strike some as pessimistic; but the film is nevertheless a brave attempt to do within the mainstream cinema what the characters try in the film, namely to find an alternative and more authentic way of proceeding. Tanner has always been moved by this concern. – from an illustrated review by Jill Forbes



  • Films and Filming no.328 (January 1982) pp.31-32 – illustrated credits, review (by Jill Forbes)
  • New Musical Express 16 January 1982 p.19 – review (Silver Screen: Light Years Away by Ian Penman)


  • Film Review 1982-1983 by F. Maurice Speed (ed.) p.155 – credits, review
  • French Science Fiction, Fantasy, Horror and Pulp Fiction: A Guide to Cinema, Television, Radio, Animation, Comic Books and Literature from the Middle Ages to the Present by Jean-Marc L’Officier and Randy L’Officier p.18 – credits