Yakov ProtazanovUSSR111 minutes1924B&WSilent
Suppressed by Soviet authorities and long thought lost, this crazily inventive spectacle about a Moscow engineer and intellectual who builds a spaceship to meet the woman of his dreams — the eponymous queen of Mars — now ranks among the most important sci-fi silents, a precursor to the grandiose visions of Fritz Lang. A triumph of visual design, Aelita features Martian costumes and amazing constructivist sets designed by the abstract painter Alexandra Ester; the producers struggled to provide scarce resources to ambitious director Yakov Protazanov and his cast of thousands, purchasing 70,000 feet of film from abroad with precious hard currency. "A highly complex film that ... engages with a number of themes and styles and attempts to bring them together within a sophisticated plot which comments on the social, political and historical reality of 1920s Russia, as well as providing audiences with a ripping yarn" (Andrew Horton).
Digital copy courtesy of MK2.