Frau im Mond (Woman on the Moon)
Directed by Fritz Lang
Screenplay by Fritz Lang and Thea von Harbou (based on the novel by Thea von Harbou)
Weimar Republic, 1929
Watched on 8th August 2014
Frau im Mond was Fritz Lang’s last silent film, but a first in many respects. It’s the first film to depict such standard things as weightlessness in space, the use of a multistage rocket, and counting down to a rocket launch — the first attempt at a ‘serious’ science-fiction film, basically.
But the film begins not as sci-fi but as espionage, with a sinister gang of businessmen trying to steal space travel plans from the outcast visionary Professor Mannfeldt (Klaus Pohl) and his entrepreneurial friend Helius (Willy Fritsch). Mannfeldt believes the moon holds vast reserves of gold, which the evil businessmen (represented by Fritz Rasp, as “The man who calls himself Turner”) intend to retrieve before it gets into the hands of those with better intentions. Turner eventually outsmarts Helius and Mannfeldt and joins them on their voyage, along with Helius’ assistants Windegger (Gustav von Wangenheim) and Friede (Gerda Maurus), who are newly-engaged — much to the distress of Helius, who secretly loves Friede. (Perhaps not so secretly, considering his rocket is named after her…)
It’s been a while since I watched a silent drama, so it took me a while to adjust to the relatively slow pacing. But once I had adjusted, I loved this film. The futuristic art deco design is delightful, Fritz Rasp is superbly sinister as “Turner”, and Gerda Maurus is mesmerising (and stunningly beautiful) as Friede.