In spring 1938 in the mountains in the north of Chile a fiery UFO, later named "Chilean Sphere", fell down. The investigation of this episode, made by a film crew, has led to a sensational discovery. It appeared that before the Second World War (in the thirties) in the USSR a secret space program had been developed. The Soviet scientists and military authorities managed to launch the first spacecraft 23 years prior to Yuri Gagarin's flight. "The First on the Moon" tells about everyday life, heroic deeds and tragedy of the first group of the Soviet cosmonauts. It is the first Russian film shot in a very rare genre 'mockumentary' or 'documentary fiction'.
When elements of the plot started leaking out, a number of Russian newspapers treated it as a documentary about a real 1938 event, referring to it as the Santiago Meteorite. In reality, the film is fiction from beginning to end. To quote the director: "Some type of new genre. It was very difficult to decide on a name. So far, for me this is either historical drama or documentary fantasy." He also said: "Our film is about how the Soviet state machinery manufactured major products - the best people. Fine, strong and clever heroes, then rendered [them] unnecessary to the native land - some have been destroyed, others lost in obscurity, yet others still broken by fear." See more »
"Mockumentary" doesn't do this film justice. Apparently the director's label is "documentary fantasy", but "alternative history" works for me. There's some humor here, but it's not a comedy. After all, taking the premise that Stalin had a secret space program in the 30's to its logical conclusion doesn't exactly point to it being a Laff Riot... What you DO have is a fascinating "historical" documentary tracing this secret rocket program of the late 1930's and following the cosmonaut's lives before, during, and after. Much of what would be seen as "fictional recreations" in most documentaries is explained and presented as NKVD surveillance video -- a great conceit. The film includes recreations of newsreels, training films, and also "contemporary" interviews that support a fascinating story. I saw this at the 2006 Seattle International Film Festival, where it sold out both showings. See it if you can!
25 of 26 people found this review helpful.
Was this review helpful to you?
| Report this