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Back when Germany was divided politically and ideologically the
Communist East German half gave us First Spaceship On Venus which is a
rather self explanatory title. It hasn't worn well with time, but it's
still open to speculation what's on Venus.
A magnetic spool containing Venusian recordings is found in the wreckage of what was thought to be a meteor hitting the Siberian tundra in 1908. Just enough to arouse scientific curiosity is translated and an international expedition is formed.
Back in 1908 things were happening on Venus and it was a more advanced civilization on that planet and more warlike. But a big old disaster happened and the Venusians were all killed. What happened to the Venusians is why you watch the film.
The film is a plea for universal disarmament and it was made sincerely with the best of intentions. The message is laid on with a sledgehammer and the acting not great and the dubbing even worse.
Still Walter Ulbricht who led East Germany back then had no real reason to be ashamed of the film, but it is sadly and badly dated.
A mysterious magnetic spool found during a construction project is
discovered to have originated from Venus. A rocket expedition to Venus
is launched to discover the origin of the spool and the race that
Out Of All The Films Yes This Wins As The Best One Including "This Island Earth". Joel & The Bots Put Up A Layer On This Film That Made It At Least Watchable. The Acting Is As Good As It Got For The Sci-Fi Genre Back Then.
The Idea Of This Film Is Just Too Stupid To Be Looked Upon Now But Back In Its Time This Film Could Be A Better Movie.
There Is Not Much Else To Say Unfortunately Except If You Plan On Watching This In Any Way Only Do It Through MST3K.
Because I have given in only five stars out of ten does not mean one
should not see this film. It is not a great film, but it is interesting
on a historical and political level.
I first happened to see the Americanized version, and realized that it was edited down, and nationalities of characters changed. Finally through Netflix, and some 5 years later, I was able to see what I believe is the complete East German version.
Having seen the real version, I cannot say it is a better film than the Americanized film I originally saw, in fact it was somewhat of a disappointment. One of the things that the American version did was make the African more believable as a person. In the East German version his character is really inane. His last lines in the American version could be interpreted as reflecting what the U.S. was going through regarding racial equality at the time. When I watched the film, I felt that perhaps, some of the film was a swipe at the East German government, since here they were talking about going into Outer Space, while the East Germans were being imprisoned behind a wall.
Having seen the East German original, I unfortunately cannot say this to be true. I felt this might be correct, since the Director later on made a film which was banned by the East German Government.
The film however, should be of interest to those interested in the Science Fiction film through the ages, and those people should definitely look at it, as they should at Russian Science fiction or other Eastern European genre films of that time.
Another IMDb viewer commented on the censorship of this film to the U.S. The fact that it was even distributed into the U.S. shows that the film had some merit for Science Fiction Cinema at the time, especially with the visuals. Please note that for East Germany and Poland, this was not a low budget film. I believe it may have been the most expensive East German film ever made. If it had been released as the East Germans made it, it would have caused a lot of fury, and some problems for the American releasing company. Now we can laugh at it. Except for the good American scientist, Americans in this film are portrayed as Whiskly Gusling war mongers who dropped the Atomic Bomb on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Russians, Germans and Japanese are portrayed as only peace loving people. To watch the politics of the film, is now, quite amusing.
With its interracial cast, I wonder if Gene Roddenberry, when he made Star Trek for television, some 5 to 6 years latter, if he was not influenced by this film.
The new DVD that was released sometime in 2006 has some interesting information about the making of the film, and the Government interference in its making. To bad however, the disc does not have an Audio Commentary, which might shed more light on the making of a very flawed but important note in the Science fiction film genre. It would also be of interest for viewers to see the American version as well. I believe Blockbuster DVD rental by mail business has both versions.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
I have recently watched First Spaceship On Venus and found it very
enjoyable and atmospheric.
A expedition, including a woman and a rather nice little robot heads to Venus to see if there is any life on there. When they arrive, they discover the remains of a lost civilisation and little activity. But they face dangers. These include metallic insects that turn out to be harmless in the end and best of all, a strange mud that attacks them but it retreats when a laser gun is blasted at it. They manage to take off in the end, but with three people less, who died on Venus.
The movie's special effects are quite good considering the low budget and the rocket looks good too.
I'm not familiar with any of the cast although the woman is played by Yoko Tani, who appeared in the 1966 British sci-fi, Invasion. (See my review of this).
First Spaceship On Venus is worth watching if you get the chance.
Rating: 3 and a half stars out of 5.
Despite the lavish sets and fair acting, I just couldn't get into this film. It was way to choppy for me, with too many plot holes. I've heard that the original ran 130 min., and the version I saw ran some 78 min., giving me an idea of how much has been cut out.
I hear a lot of people yearning for some mysterious original version of
this film, which is supposed to last for around 4 hours or so. Well,
DEFA has recently released an original version DVD, and it still runs
for exactly 1 hour 30 minutes. If you think the English version was
badly dubbed - be prepared for a treat of your lifetime. The multitude
of actors (this word should be used in parentheses) who worked on this
film, came from Germany, Russia, Poland, China, France (the Japanese
actress is French) and Africa, and God only knows what mish-mash of
languages they used on the set. It's all dubbed in German, in a sound
booth that has the acoustics of a bucket, regardless whether the actors
are in their space suites, in an Sound-of-Music-like mountain paradise,
or fighting the boiling tar on Venus. Amazingly, the original version
takes place in the year 1970, not 1985 as the version released in the
I can't really say anything redeeming about this over-lit, under-directed yarn. There's a bunch of extremely unexciting actor wannabes with the average age of somewhere around 55, who in real life would probably have hard times climbing the stairs to second floor, let alone flee from the living slime which at one point is supposed to be so sticky that the slightest drop glues the female to the floor, and which a minute later pours over the protagonists like a sea of mud (which it is) with no visible effect. Everything is shot in a rather small sound stage (as opposed to Russian sci-fi classic Voyage to the Prehistoric Planet), and how some viewers can deem this dermatine-plasticine world to be eerily alien, is far over my head. I remember the time when every Socialist coffee house had furniture like the "glass forest of Venus".
The way the director, the cameramen and the lighting crew have managed to neglect their tasks, is biblical. The scriptwriters probably just were somewhere else from the very beginning. The actors are quite often a real pain to behold, especially the black astronaut who probably was simply the only black man they had in East Germany, and who is so miserable, that the director, on his more sane moments, has wisely asked him to turn his back to the camera while delivering his dialog. Another horrible character is the TV-woman with her bedroom eyes (don't forget it's a 1959 Socialist bedroom), who covers the event globally on a live Intervision network. Then there are some excitingly unnecessary characters like Brinkmann's mother and Arsenjew's wife, who were cut from the first part of the film for US release, but for some inexplicable reason can be seen at the ending, thus making the whole mess even more perplexing.
Oh, and let's not forget the despicable, but unavoidable precious little robot, one of which you can unmistakably find in every 50s sci-fi flick, so you can marvel how it's cute little light bulbs start flashing frantically when it starts talking in a funny little voice! Even though it looks like a tiny toy tank, it manages to run over the stomach of a 7 foot Russian astronaut, thus giving the petite female surgeon excuse to undress the heroic male and operate on him to save his vitals (sorry, not shown!).
I find Stanislaw Lem one of the best writers in this genre, and that makes me wonder whether the fact that his name was used for this miserable screensoiler tormented him throughout his life.
Please don't waste your time on this film, otherwise you'll want to waste some more time to write a comment about how you wasted your time in the first place.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
This is the epitome of what makes some subject matters the perfect replacement for a sleeping pill. What little plot there is surrounds the discovery of an apparent meteor near Venus, and a journey to find out what it is and if it is, does it pose any threat? I kept patiently waiting for something thrilling, but all I managed to discover after 45 minutes of scientific mumbo jumbo that I was checking out the remaining time on it. Without a doubt one of the most pathetically boring and unnecessary trips into the wild dark yonder. I found it tedious, uninspiring, and would learn more about astronomy through the most boring science teachers of my educational past.
Mystery Science Theater 3000 or MST3K has won awards and ran for 11
years, but for my money and time, it's not only a complete waste but
also a big negative. I prefer the original movies as is, without part
of them being blocked out and without wisecracks. If these movies were
shown and experienced as intended, their impact and value would be felt
and maintained. One of the negative results of MST3K is that IMDb
viewers, like sheep, routinely rate a good many sci-fi films too low.
"First Spaceship on Venus" is one of these movies.
The movie was produced by an East German and Polish combo. The cast would be mostly unknown to American viewers, but Yoko Tani, its female lead, might be known for she has appeared in a good many international and American films. She lends a combination of striking beauty, strength, and empathetic emotion to this picture.
The story and special effects are original and imaginative, in a true sci-fi vein. Venus is shown as very different, hostile and alien, both the planet itself and its former inhabitants, who had mastered gravity and nuclear energy and planned to conquer earth.
We are entering an era where you can talk to your computer and it can take instruction verbally. Combine that with robotics and you have the capacity to instruct mobile robots. This is shown in the film, 50 years ahead of its time. The movie has an anti-nuclear weapon and nuclear war message, and it presents the challenge of space exploration as a destiny of the whole world's peoples, not as a competition among rival states for power. But first and foremost, the film shows a few handfuls of courageous, thoughtful and adventurous human beings who are willing to risk their lives to gain knowledge of a forbidding environment. And it depicts the strange encounters they have on the world of Venus.
I first saw this on TV in the mid 60s in black and white. It was spooky
and scary at that young age. Recently I have seen it in colour but only
the cut down version. I will try to find the longer version as the
editing of the 79 minute version seems quite harsh and very rushed.
When they reach the planet, things happen in rapid succession. Some
build up and more interaction among the characters would definitely
help. Maybe some of that is there in the full version.
The visuals are definitely there with the imaginative sets (with the 50s modern art flavour that could have come from the Jetson's) and there is a basis for a good enough story. The very multinational crew is a good idea and refreshing. Yoko Tani always looks great to me.
But even with the editing problems fixed, there are clearly some unnecessary, cheap diversions such as the inevitable threatening meteor shower and the goofy robot (where is Robby when you need him?). Those were common in American B grade science fiction. If taken out of this, this film could rise well above those. It certainly has the potential for that. Other Warsaw Pact science fiction films of that era, though flawed, come across better. Then again, this seems to be the first one.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
The poorly dubbed and sometimes corny science fiction movie has both
great and awful scenes. Before "2001: A Space Odyssey" this movie
attempted some real science in its depiction, particularly when the
sound effect of outer space is silence. This is one of the few science
fiction movies ever made that uses silence during the emergency space
repair, duplicating the actual physics of sound in outer space. This
movie also revealed liquid food before it was displayed in 70 mm in
"2001." Using what science they had at the time, this serious movie
also contained some awful, dumb scenes with colorful number
cheerleader-like, ground space crew workers. The acting was poor but
the script plotpoints were particularly telling especially as to who
lives and dies. An American hero dies, creating a romantic tragedy in
its wake. What is particularly great about this movie is its visual
depiction of an alien planet and the set up for the invasion of earth,
the use of an alien crystal used as a message device, as well as some
of the eerie techno-music. The alien landscape is some the most strange
and creative set pieces in science fiction film so far. There is both
brilliance and almost idiotic terrible in this movie. On balance this
is a five out of ten star movie.
**Subsequent reflection** Netflix provided a subtitled version of what appears to be the original release in German which also appears to avoid most of the techno-music which in some ways is both more elegant and focused on the film but also at times looses the eerie, musical thrill and haunting melody of the dubbed, English version. There are also extended deleted scenes which provide more character development and sometimes gorgeous backdrop of scenery, including Brinkman's mother, a another tender moment as well as reference to Brinkman's German background as well as the politics of the American scientist in having to go against his own scientific community to going on a Russian spaceship! Overall, understanding the context of the time, a movie released six years before 2001: A Space Odyssey, this film seems to attempt on its low budget as authentic a portrayal of space travel along with a strong plot script with dialogue that adheres relatively to the stock language of the times but also extends itself to more real dynamics than originally given credit. Some of the scenes actually rival 2001 in their out-worldliness and its strong message and action thriller is as potent as 2001. Originally rated 5/10, its more likely 8/10 even though a few scenes, more so than 2001 are dated, but not as much as say Forbidden Planet (1956). "Silent Planet" (First Spaceship on Venus) does justice as among the most daring and serious foreign sci fi attempt of the 60s.
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