in about 100 words or less
Russia 113m, B&W, silent
Director: Yakov Protazanov; Cast: Yulia Solntseva, Igor Ilyinsky, Nikolai Tseretelli, Nikolai Batalov, Vera Orlova
Loosely adapted from Tolstoy’s 1923 novel of the same name, Aelita is a complex fantasy about an engineer’s dream of travelling to Mars in a vehicle of his own design. Finding his way to the “Red Planet”, Mstislav Los and his travelling companion help organize a Martian workers’ revolt that is soon betrayed by Aelita, the Queen of Mars. Unmistakably political in its intent, Aelita is a cautionary tale about corruption and betrayal of communism from within its own ranks. Protazanov’s depiction of the Martian workers, which appears to have inspired Fritz Lang’s Metropolis (1927), is the most interesting visual element of this once popular Soviet film which fell out of favour for its “subversive” message (Klaus Ming November 2016).