thu 24/06/2021

DVD: Frau im Mond | reviews, news & interviews

DVD: Frau im Mond

DVD: Frau im Mond

Fritz Lang's lunar epic shines in a gleaming new print

Gerde Maurus prepares to end her days on the moon's surface

So much of Fritz Lang's 1929 silent film Frau im Mond rings true that you're inclined to forgive its shortcomings – notably a protracted, slow first act which takes far too long to set the plot in motion. Which involves brooding engineer Helius (an intense Willy Fritsch) whose space programme is hijacked by a sinister, cigar-smoking cabal intent on plundering gold reserves located on the moon's dark side.

Lang's slow opening does have some choice moments – there's an entertaining robbery in the back of a car, and the film's oleaginous baddie (Fritz Rasp) reveals his colours in style. There's a wonderful sequence where the hero desperately tries to make an emergency phone call.

And then we lurch abruptly into sci-fi thriller territory. The extended technical explanation of how Helius's rocket will reach the moon is visually engaging, and the actual launch is spectacular. The flight is brilliantly realised, unsurprising considering that Lang's most notable scientific advisor was the famous rocket scientist Hermann Oberth (one of whose proteges was the young Wernher von Braun). The reverse countdown during takeoff was copied 40 years later by NASA, and the film's neat visual attempts to portray g-force and weightlessness stand up well in a post-Gravity world.

What ensues on the lunar surface won't surprise anyone who's familiar with Hergé's Tintin, but the closing moments are unexpectedly moving – Gustl Gstettenbaur as the heroic young stowaway almost steals the film. We sense that Helius and Friede (the radiant Gerda Maurus) will make a success of their new home, despite their comically inappropriate clothing. Eureka's extended, restored cut looks superb, and the piano soundtrack is effective but unobtrusive. The one bonus feature is a short, subtitled documentary on the making of Frau im Mond. It reveals that the Nazis banned the film in 1937, fearing that its realism was a little too close to their own clandestine rocket programme.

The film's neat visual attempts to portray g-force and weightlessness stand up well in a post-Gravity world

rating

Editor Rating: 
4
Average: 4 (1 vote)

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