The early first days of the last century were times of great human curiosity about new technologies and the marvellous possibilities in the world of science; startling discoveries and new inventions set the world on the path to modernity. Unfortunately, this time of enlightenment also coincided with terrible conflicts and war, mankind at its worst.
That human duality is very well reflected in the Danish film "Himmelskibet" (1918), directed by the great director Herr Holger-Madsen. It is a sci-fi film that includes a clear and sincere pacifist claim.
The film tells of the eagerness and hardships of the sea captain Herr Avanti Planetaros, now reconverted into a space captain, and his project of a trip to Mars. Before embarking on his particular space odyssey, Captain Planetaros will have to bear the incredulity and the scorn of many conservative astronomers, especially Professor Dubius ( ah, what a proper name ) . In spite of such indifference and after many troubles and years of work, the spaceship "Excelsior" is finally constructed and Captain Planetaro's trip to Mars goes from dream to reality. Once on Mars, Captain Planetaros and his crew finds an advanced society in which peace is a way of life among its citizens.
Filmed during the terrible years of WWI, "Himmelskibet" was obviously influenced by that devastating conflict that destroyed Europe during four miserable years. The message of peace and morality comes from the archaic but advanced Martian society which hopes to influence the Terrestrial civilization and wean it from such bad habits as violence, wine and canned meat.
So, Martians will show Terrestrials the way to achieve a better society on Earth with pacifist messages reminiscent of those of religion and pious morality, and in stark contrast to the bad behaviour on earth which has wrought so much unhappiness through the centuries. The Martians hope their philosophy will be spread on Earth once Planetaros and his crew returns home.
In these modern times in which the movies are full of technological magic, the special effects in "Himmelskibet" are primitive by comparison but are still full of naive charm. In fairness, longhaired and modernen youngsters should remember that Herr Holger-Madsen was also a very modernen youngster in those olden times, a director who was innovative, imaginative and influential.
It must be said too that this Herr Graf thought that instead of journeying through space to Mars, Captain Planetaros may have travelled back in time to ancient Greece since the Martian citizens wear white and classical robes so reminiscent of the Hellene imaginarium ( Martians may look like Greeks but in comparison they are crashing bores ). However, in spite of its naive ways, the film effectively conveys its important message and one that is no less valid today where mankind still dreams of a world of peace and cooperation. Alas, even after Captain Planetaros' trip to Mars, the world seems not to have grown in wisdom.
And now, if you'll allow me, I must temporarily take my leave because this German Count must make love to one of his Teutonic heiress and war with the other one.
4 of 6 people found this review helpful.
Was this review helpful to you?