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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars M-A-G-N-I-F-I-C-E-N-T !! An impressive silent SF film, which inspired Werner von Braun and dozens other rocket scientists
This is the second of great silent SF movies made by Fritz Lang and although not as immensely great and universaly known as "Metropolis", it is certainly a very major film! Below, you will find some more of my impressions, with some limited SPOILERS.

PRECISION: this is the review of "Masters of Cinema" restored 163 minutes long version of this film...
Published 20 months ago by Darth Maciek

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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A melodramatic folly from Fritz Lang
This is a very good issue of Fritz Lang's 1929 silent sci-fi epic, Frau im Mond (Woman in the Moon) by Masters of Cinema. The Friedrich Murnau Stiftung transfer looks very good in its original 1.37:1 aspect ratio presentation with the images pin sharp, showing off the solid cinematography of Curt Courant, Oskar Fischinger, Otto Kantureck and Konstantin Tschetwerikoff, the...
Published 15 months ago by Film Buff


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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A melodramatic folly from Fritz Lang, 8 Sep 2013
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This review is from: Frau im Mond / Woman in the Moon [DVD] [1929] (DVD)
This is a very good issue of Fritz Lang's 1929 silent sci-fi epic, Frau im Mond (Woman in the Moon) by Masters of Cinema. The Friedrich Murnau Stiftung transfer looks very good in its original 1.37:1 aspect ratio presentation with the images pin sharp, showing off the solid cinematography of Curt Courant, Oskar Fischinger, Otto Kantureck and Konstantin Tschetwerikoff, the outstanding production designs of Otto Hunte, Emil Hasler and Karl Vollbrecht, and the solid direction of Lang. One caveat - a very ugly edit as the layers of the DVD change which occurs just as the rocket is taking off. I found the way it dissipates tension most distracting, but perhaps others won't be so disturbed. The film is given with a decent piano accompaniment of music by Willy Schmidt-Gentner which seems a bit basic to me coming from Gottfried Huppertz's wonderful orchestral scores for Die Nibelungen and Metropolis, but it is a re-recording of the film's original score and that is a good thing. MoC's presentation this time is decent rather than outstanding. Included on the disc is a 15 minute documentary 'The First Scientific Science-Fiction-Film' which only really scrapes the surface of the details about the making of the movie. Then there's the customary booklet, this time just 36 pages of large print which consists mainly of 'A Formal Analysis' of the film by Michael E. Grost. This concerns itself with drawing out tropes which the film shares with the rest of Lang's oeuvre and though interesting in part, I find it misleading to draw thematic parallels between Frau im Mond and Lang films where he wasn't really personally involved - he was very much just a hired hand for Western Union, Rancho Notorious and Moonfleet and any parallels of mise-en-scene or script must surely be coincidental more than anything else. There is also an extract from the page or so that Tom Gunning gives the film in his marvellous book on the director, Fritz Lang: Allegories of Vision and Modernity. The fact that Gunning doesn't give much space to Frau im Mond underlines the sad fact that the film isn't one of Lang's most successful efforts. In contrast to other reviews posted here I have to say that the film is of limited interest to the average punter. It's only likely to attract sci-fi afficionados (it was a pioneering example of the genre) and Lang completists (like me), especially as MoC have made it available at a slightly lower price than usual.

There's no doubting Lang's lofty ambition here. He had already toyed with science fiction in Metropolis and was determined to keep up to date with the media of the time (an obsession of his especially shown in M) by capitalizing on the current craze for rockets, the moon and space adventure in general as evidenced by numerous comic strips of the time and the work of Hermann Oberth and Willy Ley, two rocket scientists who he press-ganged into the film as technical advisers. The rocket in the film is named Friede (German for 'peace'), the name also of the film's central heroine played by Gerda Maurus, and the film would appear to be a statement on space travel as a harbinger of world peace, though this is extremely woolly when put into the context of most of the film's spurious character-driven melodrama which is anything but peaceful. It is also quite ironic in view of the Nazis later banning the film because it resembled research being made into the V1 and V2 rockets by Wernher von Braun that started in 1937.

Frau im Mond impresses most with the success of its central section which depicts the launch in very precise detail with an emphasis on extraordinary aerial model effects and the kind of remarkable geometric set construction so familiar to us from Metropolis. Lang's customary crowd-control skills are also much in evidence with the media sensation of the launch being heightening to generate considerable tension. It's even claimed that Lang and his screen writer/wife Thea von Harbou invented the countdown (from 6 to 1) as opposed to the count-up which had been in use before. The rhythm of the editing is superbly gauged here as the moon rises over the horizon and the rocket is moved out for the launch. Then we have that unfortunate edit which I have mentioned, but the actual journey to the moon is well depicted with superb effects as the rocket approaches it's destination which spins dizzyingly in front of us. Lang loved diagrams, maps and graphs and in this film he really goes over-board with his loving depiction of the process of design. This is shown right from the beginning with the designs stuck on the Professor's apartment walls, and becomes control-freakish once we get to the launch - clocks, dials and a multitude of other round designs really dominating the mise-en-scene to an obsessive degree. It isn't all simply sci-fi fantastical conjecture either as (apart from a couple of misjudgements) it's remarkable how close Lang and his team come to predicting how space travel would eventually be. As Gene Wright says in The Science Fiction Image: 'It's silly melodramatics aside, the film offers a stunning and remarkably prophetic depiction of a flight to the moon'.

It is unfortunate that such a stunning central section is so compromised by the protracted melodrama which sandwiches it. The first hour is all lengthy plot exposition - something about a sinister capitalist consortium muscling in on a planned trip to the moon being prepared by Wolf Helius (Willy Fritsch), the owner of Helius Hangars, a big engineering company. He's in love with space cadet Friede Velten who is about to marry his best friend Hans Windegger (Gustav von Wangenheim). Helius is blackmailed into including on the trip the mysterious agent for the sinister consortium named 'the man going by the name of Walt Turner' (Fritz Rasp). The group is completed by Professor Georg Manfeldt (Klaus Pohl), the crackpot genius astrologist who first had the idea that there might be gold on the moon. The moon trip becomes less an adventure into the romantic unknown (though that element is encapsulated in the plot by the inclusion of a stowaway boy played by Gustl Stark-Gstettenbauer), than a capitalist profit-driven hunt for gold. What makes this melodrama tedious is the number of protracted scenes between protagonists which ill-serve the film's theme of space travel. Thea von Harbou must take the blame here along with her husband for a scenario that looks back to the 19th century more than it looks forward to the 21st. Consequently, this is the silent film of Lang's which has dated the most. Even at the time of its release the film was criticized for its antiquated structure. In 1931, re-edited, re-titled (By Rocket to the Moon) and released in America, Variety magazine found the film 'painfully draggy' and observed, 'the rocket trip to the moon is surrounded by a hackneyed melodramatic frame, and a bedraggled romance'. Lang's forte was always production design and narrative structure to the extent that actors often seem peripheral to his concerns. In films which are concerned with much stunning experimentation (especially Dr. Mabuse: the Gambler, Die Nibelungen, Spione, Metropolis and M) nobody really notices the over-wrought expressionistic acting, but in Frau im Mond, a good deal of time is given to the actors who exist only on the surface with painfully little psychological incite afforded them by the script. Compensatory sustained suspense is in very short supply so that the shortcomings of this soapy melodrama are exposed as clear as day. Fritsch, Maurus and Rasp had all come to Frau im Mond straight from Spione. In that film, the narrative design is so cunningly designed that the film seems breathtakingly way ahead of its time. Because Lang is so concerned with the mise-en-scene and how it relentlessly drives its plethora of different plots, the over-wrought acting seems to add to the total effect of the film. Frau im Mond however, strands the same actors on (admittedly very well designed) sets where the mechanics of their craft are truly exposed by an over-simple old fashioned storyline which takes forever to spin out. This is true of every character confrontation before they leave and is especially problematic when the party reach their destination. Where you would think Lang/Harbou would be more interested in the moon surface itself and the characters' awe-struck reaction to it, the script focuses instead on mundane Earth-like, character-driven jealousies, especially the silly love triangle and the Disney villain cartoon antics of the dastardly 'Mr Turner'. 'Quaint' would be a kind description for events that transpire with cutesy episodes with the boy and a mouse not helping one jot.

Lang devotees will find numerous compensations throughout the film. Apart from the launch of the rocket, there are the other typically imaginative set designs coming from Hunte and Vollbrecht - Manfeldt's dingy hovel strewn with maps and diagrams, Helius's well-appointed apartment with sleek modern furnishings and a Lang-trademark huge spiral staircase, the chic apartment of his neighbor with it's shop-window-like plant display cases, Windegger's apartment replete with a huge bookcase and stylish art-deco trimmings, the interior of the rocket depicted with obsessive detail, and then there is the moon surface itself which looks startlingly like a romantic painting by Caspar David Friedrich. Lang keeps his compositions scrupulously balanced, focusing on square constructions and also modern-looking circular designs, especially the numerous clocks and dials which keep re-appearing throughout. Whether these Langian features are enough compensation for the film's flaws is a moot point. For me, Frau im Mond is a huge come-down from Spione, and I find it little short of amazing that Lang should rebound so quickly to make the stunning M. In terms of narrative structure and mise-en-scene, Frau im Mond could and should have been another wonderful voyage into the future like Spione or Metropolis. That even Die Nibelungen (a myth from the 12th/13th century) looks more modern is testament enough to the film's folly. Still, Lang maintained affection for it in later years even though he was aware of its weaknesses. As Patrick McGilligan points out in his biography, Fritz Lang: The Nature of the Beast, among other things Frau im Mond was a valentine to Gerda Maurus with whom he was having an affair at the time, and this may well explain much of the wan sentimentality and the way the camera seems to drool over Maurus whenever she is on screen. It was also the last silent film Lang ever made. Bad box office returns combined with his refusal to post-synchronize sound into the film were enough for Ufa to let him go. His next film (and greatest masterpiece), M was eventually set up with Seymour Nebenzahl for Nero-Film and featured stunning sound design and much else besides, but that's another story...
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars M-A-G-N-I-F-I-C-E-N-T !! An impressive silent SF film, which inspired Werner von Braun and dozens other rocket scientists, 5 April 2013
By 
Darth Maciek "Darth Maciek" (Darth Maciek is out there...) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Frau im Mond / Woman in the Moon [DVD] [1929] (DVD)
This is the second of great silent SF movies made by Fritz Lang and although not as immensely great and universaly known as "Metropolis", it is certainly a very major film! Below, you will find some more of my impressions, with some limited SPOILERS.

PRECISION: this is the review of "Masters of Cinema" restored 163 minutes long version of this film.

"Frau im Mond" begins with the great dream of a manned expedition to the Moon shared by two unlikely friends. One of them, professor Georg Mannfeldt (Klaus Pohl), is an old scientist, considered by his pairs as a madman or a fraud and living in most abject poverty. The second, Wolf Helius (Willy Fritsch), is a gifted engineer and very succesful businessman, owner of a major industrial company. Together they decide to build a giant rocket and go to the Moon, looking for gold which they hope will cover the immense cost of this enterprise. This is described in the very beginning of the film. The performance of Klaus Pohl as an old half-mad scientist is absolutely unique - those first minutes of the film, you really WANT to see them!

What happens next? Well, quite a lot indeed, because this is a long film. Some sinister forces will intervene, acting through The Man, a nameless archi-villain played magistrally by actor Fritz Rasp, who with his unique physionomy and great talent steals absolutely every scene he appears in (he also played a quite sinister character in "Metropolis"). As the title clearly suggests, a young woman will also play a considerable role - this is in fact one of the first films in which a woman who is also a serious scientist appears... There will be a love triangle, lots of trouble during the space trip, more trouble on the Moon and a very good, VERY surprising ending. All of this under the curious but stoic regard of a very zen mouse, played by Die Maus Josephine (as stated in the credits)...)))

This is a long film, but I didn't feel the time passing. The performance of actors is absolutely brilliant! The unique character of talent needed to act in silent movies gives to this film a charm impossible to find in modern cinema. Passion, hope, love, despair, anger, cruelty, lust, terror, disgust, ecstasy - you name it, they are all here, silently screaming at us from the screen. The plot is not bad at all, especially considering that this film is a pioneering work. Description of space travel is of course deliciously silly, but that also gives this film a very unique savour.

This film is also the first one to show the countdown to the launch of a rocket - pretty impressive, considering that this film was made in 1929. The very solemn moment of launching of the rocket is a great and very emotional cinema scene - and it certainly greatly impressed and inspired many young students, who were later to become rocket scientists in German V-1 and V-2 program in Peenemunde, beginning with a certain Werner von Braun, who saw this film, eyes wide-open, at the tender age of 17. In fact, the first V-2 rocket ever launched had the image of "Frau im Mond" painted on it...

I loved this film greatly and I am absolutely keeping preciously this DVD. I recommend it with all my heart. Enjoy!
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars "Never" does not exist for the human mind... only "Not yet.", 2 Jun 2011
By 
Trevor Willsmer (London, England) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Frau im Mond / Woman in the Moon [DVD] [1929] (DVD)
Worst things first. Despite being made by Fritz Lang and his then-wife and screenwriter Thea von Harbou only two years later, Frau im Mond aka Woman in the Moon is no Metropolis. It's as if Kubrick had followed 2001 with Destination Moon - a capable enough picture, but one for its day rather than for the ages. Even had it not been banned by the Nazis in 1937 because its depiction of rocket science was deemed too close to their secret rocket programme it probably would have been forgotten of its own accord. There's no grand vision, no striking design, only one real set piece and almost nothing to say. Made purely to cash in on the rocket craze that hit Germany in the late 20s and Fritz Lang's own enthusiasm for Hermann Oberth's pioneering theoretical work, the main attraction of `the first science fiction film based on scientific fact' is its visionary and surprisingly accurate (in parts) depiction of interplanetary rocket travel. Unfortunately to get to that you have to put up with a drawn out 74 minutes of melodrama, and once it reaches the Moon it waves goodbye to science and says hello again to melodrama.

The opening hour and a quarter is the biggest problem, padding the length out and taking its own sweet time setting up characters and plot points that could have been done in less than a third of the time. Heartbroken over the woman he loves, Friede (Gerda Maurus), deciding to marry his best friend Windegger (Gustav von Wagenheim), wealthy Wolf Helius (Willy Fritsch) finally decides to make the trip to the Moon in the rocket he's designing, spurred on more by emptiness than by the theories of the ridiculed and ruined Professor Manfeldt (Klaus Pohl) that the mountains of the Moon are rich in gold. But an international consortium of gold producers aren't quite so blasé, stealing his papers and research material and threatening to destroy his rocket and kill his workers if he doesn't agree to give them the monopoly on the Moon's gold reserves because "I for one want the moon's riches, should they actually prove to exist, to fall into the hands of businessmen, and not visionaries and idealists." Which, along with the appearance of their sinister agent Fritz Rasp, looking like Crispin Glover playing Adolf Hitler only even creepier, should provide some dramatic conflict other than Fritsch losing his girl to his best friend, but unfortunately it's all but forgotten as soon as all three of them agree to his demands.

Thankfully, while never especially dull, the picture really picks up at this point as it gets out of the apartments and drawing rooms and onto the impressively realised launch pad and the trip to the Moon itself. Here at last Lang brings some sense of epic scale to the picture, aided by some surprisingly decent model effects. While it gets a lot wrong, it's true to the best science of the day and probably gets even more right, presenting a credible multi-stage rocket and a decent attempt to realistically depict both the effects of G-force and weightlessness (Lang's cost-effective solution to the latter is quite ingenious). It even introduces many of the staples off later sci-fi films, like watching the Earth eclipse the sun or the Earth set behind the Moon. Some of it certainly has that quaint period feel: they wear cardigans and mountaineering gear in the ship, a diving suit on the surface of the Moon before they discover it has breathable atmosphere and use a divining rod to source water. The film isn't altogether unaware of this, however. When they discover a young stowaway, he shows them his own extensive research into space travel - science fiction comic books. Once they reach the Moon, it's back to melodrama as everyone shows their true colours and, after a shootout with the obligatory crewman who goes mad, there's not enough oxygen for all of them to get back to Earth...

The film's biggest problem is that there's just not enough going on, either emotionally or intellectually, to justify its two-and-three-quarter-hours running time. It never bores and it is fascinating seeing what it got right and what it got wrong, but it just doesn't pay off big enough for that kind of investment. It's hard to avoid the feeling that you could jettison those first 74 minutes and not feel much loss, not least because it's so hard to care about the characters. Maurus, looking like Margaret Dumont's younger, svelter and much more attractive younger sister, is an idealised figure of German womanhood who proves the most noble character, but she's too idealised to ever come alive. Fritsch, the first man to record Lili Marlene, is a right old misery guts as the hero, spending so much of the film scowling, wincing, staring off into the distance or trimming a neighbour's plant to the roots that instead of wanting them to get together you start to long for her to try to slap him out of his insufferable self pity.

Eureka's Masters of Cinema UK DVD release is a mixture of the excellent and the frustrating. The restored print is outstanding, but the subtitling is problematic: because it uses the original German subtitles, the optional English translations have to fit in the gaps between the lines, making them difficult to read at times. Worse, the film has one of the worst layer changes of any DVD release, placed during the shot of the rocket launching, resulting in a very unwelcome freeze frame at exactly the moment when speed is of the essence (it's not as if there aren't plenty of static shots in the film where it would be less noticeable). On the plus side, Gabriele Jacobi's short documentary packs a lot of information into its 14 minutes, not only comparing the film's space travel scenes to real NASA footage of the first Moon landing but also detailing how, as a publicity stunt for the film, UFA's publicity department provided the funding for Hermann Oberth to move from the theoretical to practical experiments with the first liquid fuel rocket (at least until the publicity budget ran out). Ironically, instead of the rocket research publicising the film, the film publicised rocket research, with one of Oberth's assistants, Werner von Braun, even using a woman on the Moon as the emblem for the V2 rocket. There's also the customary booklet.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Great Job by Eureka !, 17 Aug 2014
Decent Lang Movie. Eureka did another great Job with this bluray dual format release.

A / V quality is outstanding most of the time and this movie is able to compete with other great restorations like nosferatu , mabuse and city girl.

Bonus featue is only a short documentary (SD upscale) about fritz lang and the real rocket scinece behind the movie. and how the movie was banned during 1937.

The Movie has the original german intertitels and comes with english subtitles (is possible to remove the english subs).
Compared to langs other movies i found this one a little to long and "boring". it takes around 90-100 min till the rocket actually starts its journey.
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10 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Frau im Mond (1929) sophisticated for its time, 24 Aug 2008
By 
bernie "xyzzy" (Arlington, Texas) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Frau im Mond / Woman in the Moon [DVD] [1929] (DVD)
Poor penniless Professor Georg Manfeldt has a theory that the moon has gold, lots of it, and why not? His rich friend Wolf Helius owns a rocket factory and it seems that he has sent everything up but people. Turns out his friend Wolf has a problem; the girl Friede that he secretly loves had no idea that he felt that way and married their mutual friend and head engineer Windegger in the factory. A sophisticated criminal element gets involved and wants to control the moon gold flow.

List off occupants:
Professor Georg Manfeldt (Klaus Pohl)
Wolf Helius (Willy Fritsch)
Hans Windegger, Ingenieur (Gustav von Wangenheim)
Friede Velten, Student astrologer (Gerda Maurus)
Gustav, Child stowaway (Gustl Gstettenbaur)
Der Mann, Criminal element (Fritz Rasp)
The Mouse (uncredited)

Everything is going along swimmingly until the obligatory lack of water, oxygen, and life.

This is not your run of the mill love on a rocket that "misfires" movie. Maybe because they took the time to flesh out the movie and not rush the story it turned out to be very sophisticated. There had time for intrigue and subterfuge as even the bad guys were well organized and believable.

Top writers and top director and UFA studios can only produce a masterpiece.

The models are very good and many of the real problems with space are anticipated and depicted, unlike some cheap remakes. I was disappointed to find that all they found on the moon is gold and not Louise Brooks; the title is misleading.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Echoes of the 1950s -- in 1929, 8 Mar 2011
By 
J. A. Eyon "Little Raven" (Seattle - USA) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Frau im Mond / Woman in the Moon [DVD] [1929] (DVD)
You'd think you were watching a spaceflight film from the 1950s. All the ingredients are there. A homemade spaceship with room for standing, cabinets with dials and levers, a few men, including one old and wise one, one evil -- and a woman. Oh, and a young stowaway.

But this was made over 20 years earlier. B&W. No sound. Heavy melodramatic plot and acting.

And it goes on for 2 hours and 48 minutes, developing at a very slow pace. Too slow for most of today's audiences. But I was fairly engrossed. Director Fritz Lang was a master of his style of storytelling and filmmaking.

Good points are the efforts at scientific accuracy -- it was surprisingly prescient at times, supremely silly at others. The direction and cinematography were topnotch, too.

It was a bit distracting that the villain was made to look like Adoph Hitler. Lang was staunchly anti-Nazi and left Germany around 1933.
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16 of 20 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A silent sci-fi great, 11 April 2008
By 
DH Dixon "whitespeck" (England) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Frau im Mond / Woman in the Moon [DVD] [1929] (DVD)
This is the only Fritz Lang film that I feel entirely happy with. Its depiction of a flight to the moon is both forward-looking and revealing but also quaint in its historic art, and the silent acting is of a very high order with quite a lot of depth in the characters. This film is great fun and perfectly excellent.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Not the turkey some would have you believe..., 18 May 2013
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This review is from: Frau im Mond / Woman in the Moon [DVD] [1929] (DVD)
Arrived on time at at a good price. While not Lang's finest hour, it's a looooooong way from unacceptable - familiar themes and some top camerawork.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Master's of Cinema has done it again., 22 Sep 2014
By 
Douglas A. Roy "TheDoug" (Pittsfield, MA) - See all my reviews
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As usual the Masters of Cinema folks have produced a great cinematic product for the money. Great Fritz Lang film by one of the most notable m's from this German period.
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5.0 out of 5 stars good copy in, 26 Sep 2014
By 
LALANDE Simon (illkirch-graffenstaden, Alsace France) - See all my reviews
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Marvelous Film from Fritz Lang.
In france only on DVD. good copy in Blu-Ray
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