Hanus In ‘Spaceman,’ Explained: Who Was Jan Hus? What Did Gorompeds Represent?


Based on Jaroslav Kalfar’s novel, the Netflix space drama film Spaceman revolves around the first cosmonaut, Jakub Prochazka, from Bohemia, who ventures into the vastness of space to collect samples of a mysterious comet named Chopra. Somewhere around 2017, the undiscovered comet entered the Milky Way and brought a sandstorm of intergalactic cosmic dust into our solar system, because of which a cloud formed between Venus and Earth. This particular phenomenon was visible from planet Earth and formed a purple zodiacal light at night. But even though Chopra or its dust particles didn’t pose any imminent threat to humanity, at least four space shuttles had been sent to space to bring samples back to Earth. Jakub’s space shuttle JanHus1 was one of them.

Spoiler Alert

While the Spaceman film didn’t clarify it, I want to mention that it was Jakub’s first time in space, where he was sent on a six-month-long suicide mission by his own country. For anyone who has read Kalfar’s book, the entire mission was a farce from the very beginning. It was state-sponsored propaganda to create a name and build a brand for the independent Czech Republic. When Senator Tuma offered him a choice to volunteer for the mission, Jakub quickly grabbed the opportunity for two broad reasons. His father was an informer for the communist regime and even organized secret interrogations and executions of its enemies. In short, his hands were soaked in blood. It was something Jakub was never proud of, especially in the newly reformed country, and he therefore wanted to atone for the crimes of his lineage by becoming a hero to the new nation. Secondly, Jakub had commitment issues. I am not sure if that would explain his complex take on relationships, but maybe Jakub didn’t want to bear a child until and unless he had earned a name for himself and rid the world of the memories of his father’s crimes. Maybe it was the reason why he always distanced himself from his wife, Lenka, every time she got pregnant. However, in the book, Lenka had her first miscarriage on the treadmill, after which Jakub just stayed at his office. Since then, the couple had been trying to conceive again but failed to do so. In the book, Lenka never conceived again, which became one of the reasons for a crack in their marriage.

So here we are, with a man who has isolated himself from humanity in order to run away from his fears, commitments, and guilt. The space shuttle represented Jakub’s self-inflicted loneliness. But even though Jakub could go to the farthest corner of the Milky Way, he couldn’t run away from himself and the feelings that would haunt him forever until he made peace with them. It was what happened in Jakub’s case, whose past guilt manifested itself as the creature called Hanus, whom he named after a philosopher and inventor named Jan Hus. In the book, Jan Hus was called a preacher who preached John Wycliffe’s words from a small cathedra during the reign of King Wenceslas. He was a free-thinker who raised his voice against the tyranny of religious institutions, because of which he was declared a heretic by the church and later burned alive for his revolutionary ideas. Why Jakub named his inner monster Hanus is a matter of discussion in itself. The voice of the creature was a rebellion against his own mindset. Jakub rigidly believed in certain preconceived notions throughout his life, and Hanus’ job was to liberate him from the thoughts that kept him a prisoner of his own mind. 

Hanus can be seen as Wilson the Volleyball (from Cast Away) in Jakub’s life. The spaceman already knew what was right and wrong, but he wanted a punching bag to throw his ideas at so that he could see them more clearly. The way The Creature entered Jakub’s life and all the reasons he gave for approaching him weren’t just vague but also random. Jakub’s mind played tricks on him, where it wanted him to accept that The Creature was real and he could share his life’s dilemma with it, something no one else was interested in in the outer space. It could be speculated that Jakub sabotaged the surveillance camera himself on the space shuttle so that mission operators keeping an eye on him 24/7 wouldn’t brand him as a heretic. Kalfar used a line in his book that Bohemia had been considered a nation of heretics, which actually resonated with Jakub’s plight. Furthermore, he later sabotaged the microphones and communication devices so that operators like Peter wouldn’t be able to hear his conversation with Hanus.

In reality, Jakub was just talking to himself because he had no one else to talk to. He wanted someone to hear his conflict with his father, who was burned alive in their ancestral home, because of which he was never able to confront him for the crimes he had committed. Additionally, Jakub wanted to ask himself why he would leave Lenka behind every time she needed him the most, especially when he had promised to be with her through thick and thin. Hanus only appeared when Lenka decided to cut off all ties with Jakub and stopped talking to him, which made him reflect on his behavior so far and how he had been ignorant of her needs. Jakub wanted to become a hero for the nation so as to wash away his father’s sins, but in the process, he was slowly losing what he already had. Hanus reminded him of all the moments he shared with his loved one in order to remind him of the beginning of his love story. We often feel the warmth of the love running through our veins during the beginning, or what the book calls “The Big Bang.” But when things get hard or responsibilities knock us down, we run away from the same feelings. 

Hanus often brought up a term called Gorompeds, which destroyed its entire tribe. It could mean a lot of things, but the Spaceman film portrayed them as small flesh-eating worms. It could mean that Gorompeds were nothing but our own inner thoughts and demons that one day consumed our existence because we refused to face them. Additionally, Hanus loved the Nutella because it was nothing but an extension of Jakub’s mind, who shared the same thoughts but from a different perspective. And last but not least, Hanus’ code of the universe, “body must not be violated,” had much more meaning in the book than in the film because we never got to see our favorite Shoe Man. But in regards to the Spaceman film, maybe those words were spoken for Lenka, who, being a mother, had to carry a child, while Jakub, being a narcissistic husband, shied away from his responsibilities and violated Lenka’s body and mind by not being there when she needed him the most.

So at the end of the day, what was Hanus’s purpose? It was just to make Jakub realize the mistakes he had committed in the past that had ruined his marriage, and, therefore, he needed to start over and sort things out. It was to make him realize that a man often designs his own doom, but it is never too late to make amends. And we can change our lives for the better only if we have the courage to face our demons and talk about them. Jakub needed to change his outlook on life and deliver the love that Lenka deserved. Instead of running away, Jakub needed to be there with Lenka and not leave her side again, no matter what happened. It was to make Jakub think that his father might have left a scar on his mind and soul, but Lenka shouldn’t bear the burden of it. She loved a man who was ambitious and passionate. She wanted Jakub to prove his love to her, not his worth to the world. But even though the couple never ended up together in the book, the Spaceman film did give us some hope.

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Shikhar Agrawal
Shikhar Agrawal
I am an Onstage Dramatist and a Screenwriter. I have been working in the Indian Film Industry for the past 12 years, writing dialogues for various films and television shows.

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