Thirty years ago, at a scientific conference, Prof. Manfeldt presented his theory on the existence of gold on the Moon. It was greeted with laughter by the assembled academics. Today, Herr Helius has ambitious plans to build a spaceship... and take it to the Moon! Windegger, his chief engineer, will be going, and so will Prof. Manfeldt, now living in a cramped garret alone with his theory. But there are disagreements with the financiers who insist that their man Turner also accompany the flight... The unmanned Rocket H 32 brings back valuable information from the dark side of the Moon. Helius is upset by the news of Windegger's engagement to the pretty Friede. And the financiers have a secret agenda: to control the world's gold supply... Finally, the Spaceship "Friede" is ready as it rolls out on its gantry for takeoff. The staged rocket works as planned, but the acceleration is fierce. As they approach the Moon, they discover a stowaway on board, Gustav, a little boy...Written by
Thea von Harbou, the screenwriter, was also director Fritz Lang's wife. See more »
The rocket launch is boldly set for 2130 (9:30 PM) as announced by the smoke-writing plane. But the launch also coincides with the rising of a full moon. The full moon would rise much earlier, approximately 1800 (6:00 PM) local time. See more »
Fritz Rasp is billed in the opening credits as "Der Mann, der sich Walter Turner nennt" or "The man who calls himself Walter Turner." See more »
The film was given a release from Kino Internation on DVD, running a length of 169 minutes. The 2000 restoration runs 200 minutes. The original showing in the United States ran 156 minutes and was later cut to 95 minutes. See more »
The cinema of Weimar Germany, more fantastical, surreal and purely visual than its Hollywood counterpart, often resembles not reality but the world of dreams – and nightmares. And this is a world not totally removed from our own experiences, because we all of us dream.
Frau im Mond was adapted by acclaimed screenwriter Thea von Harbou from her own novel. It has at its core the spirit if not the accuracy of scientific endeavour, and yet it is essentially, like most of von Harbou's work, a story of epic, rip-roaring adventure. Rich with subplot, which adds to rather than detracts from the awe-inspiring voyage, of all her stories it is probably second only to Metropolis for its sheer imaginative splendour and romantic sweep. Many of its devices found their way into Tintin's moon adventure twenty-five years later, author Herge even naming one of the characters Wolff as a possible tribute to Wolf Helius.
Such a story is in constant danger of going off the rails of credibility, and as such it requires a director of a certain boldness in approach. Fritz Lang, von Harbou's husband at the time, is known for his stark visual style which many would associate with the expressionist excess of film noir, a genre to which Lang would indeed make several notable contributions in later years. And yet his manner, unbridled as it was in Germany where he was allowed to work more closely with his creative team, is more one of bizarre fantasy and nightmarish exaggeration than of grim realism. It is this take on things that brings Frau in Mond into the world of acceptability. Von Harbou creates a great character in the impoverished yet brilliant Professor Manfeldt. Lang brings Manfeldt's world to life with the bleak angular depiction of his home. In such a place it is normal for actors to grimace and gesticulate wide-eyed into the camera.
And herein lies the important second dimension to Lang's technique. Point-of-view shots were by now a fairly routine trick in Hollywood, but Lang consistently breaks that fourth wall and inserts the audience somewhat aggressively into the film's world, often having the camera take the position of alternate positions of two characters facing each other. Also notice how each of the sets of Frau im Mond is an enclosed space, not a backless facade as we would get on a soundstage. By giving us 360-degree coverage of a room, Lang gives us the impression – better I think than any other director – that we have entered the same space as the heroes and villains of the story.
This is how Lang and von Harbou get away with their own bizarre and fantastical ramblings. Fritz Lang's later silent films are exciting, so enthralling, in spite of their long running times, their oddball imagery and melodramatic plot lines. The finest work of Lang and von Harbou allows us to become part of their dream world.
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