AELITA (1924) Directed by Yakov Protazanov was a sensation upon its heavily publicized release in 1924. Aelita Queen of Mars is now a curiosity of post-revolutionary Soviet Russian silent cinema. Despite a cool reaction from critics, the film was such a hit with the Soviet public that many Russian babies born in 1924 were named Aelita, and the cubist designs of the Martian sets – heavily influenced by the avant-garde ‘constructivist’ movement – would in turn influence science fiction films in the years to follow (most notably the Flash Gordon serials). With costume designs and performances that are truly out of this world, Aelita was the 1924 equivalent of a Spielberg spectacular: and it is startling to think that this film was even possible in 1924 Russia.
The story is almost beside the point, revolving around a married Moscow engineer who dreams of Aelita, the Queen of Mars, and is obsessed with building a spaceship that will take him to her. An alleged murder, passionate jealousy and a bumbling detective are all part of the film’s portrait of post-revolutionary lifestyle, but they pale in comparison to the intermittent scenes on Mars, which peak with the engineer’s ultimate arrival and the eruption of a Martian slave rebellion! It is pure propaganda but agreeably light and remarkably revealing of its time and place. If you are fascinated by imaginative films from the silent era then Aelita is must-see viewing. For more details about my soundtrack c.d.r. go to my HIPSHOT SOUNDTRACKS page.