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This is called the first Soviet science fiction film because of its "futuristic" sets on Mars, although most of it takes place in Moscow. The movie is set at the beginning of the NEP (New Economic Policy) in December, 1921. A mysterious radio message is beamed around the world, and among the engineers who receive it are Los, the hero, and his colleague Spiridonov. Los is an individualist dreamer. Aelita is the daughter of Tuskub, the ruler of a totalitarian state on Mars in which the working classe are put into cold storage when they are not needed. With a telescope, Aelita is able to watch Los. As if by telepathy, Los obsesses about being watched by her. After some hugger-mugger involving the murder of his wife and a pursuing detective, Los takes the identity of Spiridonov and builds a spaceship. With the revolutionary Gusev, he travels to Mars, but the Earthlings and Aelita are thrown into prison by the dictator. Gusev and Los begin a proletarian uprising, and Aelita offers to lead ... Written by
Fiona Kelleghan <email@example.com>
The Old U.S.S.R. was quite a bizarre country; aristocratic balls were illegal and so was private property. This Herr Graf, for example, had to suffer the indignity of sharing the hundreds of empty rooms at the Schloss with homeless people. What's more, the caviar was rationed out-and even the commoners got their share.
So the fact that a Bolshevist engineer has the dream to travel to Mars after having received a mysterious and coded message from outer space was not at all strange to this Herr Graf. It was not even a surprise that this dream comes true.
"Aelita" (1924) ,directed by Herr Yakov Protazanov, was the U.S.S.R.'s first science-fiction film and was a notable success and became known even beyond the frontiers of Russia. Even after all these years, the oeuvre maintains its singularity, artistic qualities and its weirdness.
Obviously the film surprises the audience, especially with the Mars futurist part. This is skilfully intertwined with a parallel story of a Bolshevist couple whose relationship is endangered by jealousy and suspicion. Even the queen of Mars, Aelita (Frau Yuliya Solntseva) will get involved as she falls desperately in love with the Terrestrial Bolshevist, our hero, the engineer Losi ( Herr Nikolai Tsereteli ). The engineer dreams of travelings to Mars partly as a way of dealing with his earthly problems but, more importantly, to export the October revolution beyond the small confines of earth. Thus, the red planet must become truly red.
The part of the film set in Mars astonishes even a German count with its particular costumes and sets, designed by Frau Alexandra Exter and Herr Isaac Rabinovich ( this Herr Von must add that Herr Protazanov's cinematographic background was influenced by European early avant-garde; he worked in Germany and France before the Bolshevists asked him to return to Russia) . This gives the film a suitably bizarre and fascinating atmosphere that is most appropriate for such an unusual story.
It must be said that the film isn't all absurdity, extravagance and propaganda delirium. As this German count said before, the film combines science-fiction with a down to earth story that reflects the daily hardships of the Moscow citizens trying to make a living at the beginning of the 20's. There is also some humor about people feeling nostalgic for the old regime and who are not quite accepting of the new order. The character of Kratsov (Herr Igor Illynksy), an amateur investigator, adds a bit of humor and brightness. Overall, the film is a successful combination of realism, comedy and science fiction; surely, one doesn't expect all this from those rude Bolsheviks.
And now, if you'll allow me, I must temporarily take my leave because this German Count must return to the aristocratic earthly world.
Herr Graf Ferdinand Von Galitzien http://ferdinandvongalitzien.blogspot.com
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