"Aelita: Queen of Mars" 1924, Yakov Protaznov
“Aelita: The Queen of Mars” was a 1924 science fiction, propaganda and romance silent film produced by Yakov Protazanov from the Soviet Union. This was the first science fiction film in the Soviet Union. This version was recreated with title cards in English. The Soviet Union was known to make propaganda-based movies for viewers to watch because the entire nation was controlled by the totalitarian government. This film was no exception, even though it was a fantasy-based movie. The intention was to symbolically describe how Russia was going through an extremely revolutionary time in their history.
This remastered version of “Aelita” opened up with Morse Code messages and then the main character, Los received the message. Montages then were used showing different places around the world that also received this code. The Morse code from Mars was sent by aliens. The aliens were led by Tuskub, but the main alien character was his daughter, Aelita. Aelita had a telescope, which was used to oversee Los from Earth. She ended up drawing a portrait of Los because she was attracted to Los from Earth. The main goal was that Los was trying to build a Rocketship to go to Mars.
This film also included realistic plot of romance between Los, his wife Natasha. Natasha had an attraction with another man named Viktor Ehrlich. Los continued to have visions of Aelita from Mars and began to fall in love with her, while his wife, Natasha fell in love with Ehrlich. During this time, Los became jealous about Natasha and Ehrlich. Los was sent away for work for six months. He later then got a card from his friend, Spiridononv, who said he was leaving. He also said that he was hiding Los’ plans for the rocket to Mars in the fireplace mantle. Upon Los’ return to home, he killed his wife, Natasha believing she committed adultery. Following the murder, Los dressed up like Spiridononv to avoid getting into serious trouble. He continued to build the ship and he began his next journey.
Los began his journey to Mars to meet Aelita. Once he arrived on Mars, some propaganda was portrayed because Mars’ citizens were living with brutal working conditions. The citizens were put into “cold storage” when they were finished working, and they do not have any sense of life, which are known politically as Craft Idiots. These people basically worked and did not do anything else, where the cold storage was their resting place from day to day. Aelita therefore lead a revolution for the workers where they would no longer have to work long hours and to remain in cold storage when not working. Aelita was going to become the ruler of Mars, but the workers were going to be treated the same way as they were before Aelita was going to take over. Prior to her takeover, Los threw Aelita off the platform, and freed the people. Finally, Los returned to Earth with a surprise ending.
This film was extremely innovative in 1924 because there was the use of excellent costumes, the believable Mars setting and telescopes and what people believed what life was like in space. However, most of the aspects in this film are not true today. Most Soviet films were centered towards the main issues of the country and this film was no exception. Compared to Eisenstein’s propaganda films, this film was less intimidating to watch because this was more of a fantasy than the brutal reality depicted in “Strike”.