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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,
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This review is from: Frau im Mond / Woman in the Moon [DVD]  (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!