From the Tsars to the Stars
Russian Fantastic Cinema
Aelita, Queen of Mars
Director: Jakov Protazanov
Cast: Yuliya Solntseva, Igor Ilyinsky, Nikolai Tsereteli
Soviet Union, 1924, 120’, black & white; silent
The world's first feature film to use interplanetary travel as its main plot line, Aelita is based on A. N. Tolstoy's novel. A brilliant engineer and a crusty soldier travel to the Red Planet to find it inhabited by meek humanoids and ruled with an iron fist by the beautiful Aelita. Spectacular unrest ensues; will our heroes make it back home? Free of earthly logistics, the film's unique set design captures Soviet Constructivism at its graphically most unhinged.