This is a short movie review, but one concerning space. I happened upon this silent film as I was researching the Mittelwerk series. The English name of the film is “The Woman in the Moon.” It’s available in the US on Netflix streaming, so the wife and I watched it. The director’s last name, Lang, is appropriate since it means “long” in German. At two hours and forty-six minutes, the movie could use some heavy editing. My wife fell asleep a little bit during the first hour or so. It does pick up, though.
If you are curious about a movie that fired up the imaginations of space geeks, particularly German ones, in 1929, then there probably isn’t a better example of “realistic” space travel than “Frau Im Mond.” The movie uses a launcher system mounted on rails to transport the rocket out to the launch area. The rocket itself doesn’t look that different from the “real” classic rocket shape in the late 40’s, early 50’s. The rocket has spring-mounted cots for passengers to use during lift-off. There’s even multiple rocket stages, which might have never been heard of by the general public until the movie’s debut.
Some liberties have also been taken concerning the science in the movie, but that’s storytelling for you. It’s interesting to see the juxtaposition of technologies in this story: fountain pens for crew logbooks, on a spaceship; dowsing rods; analog clocks and no mention of computers anywhere. Weirdly, the “American” antagonist looks remarkably like a NAZI villain from Indiana Jones.
There’s a sense while watching the movie that someone advised Fritz Lang about what it would take to travel to the moon. And it turns out a few someones did: Hermann Oberth and Willy Ley. Both were fundamental members of the Verein für Raumschiffahrt (VFR=The Spaceflight Society) in Germany. Wernher Von Braun was also a member of the VfR.
If you have nearly three hours of free time, it might be worth your while. It is silent, but you get the gist of the story through the actors. It does help if you can read German–but you don’t need to. And the music soundtrack has been updated–it’s pretty good–I don’t think there were any synthesizers in 1929…