The Soviet Union, despite censoring countless artists, still managed to produce some of the finer works of literature and film the world had ever seen. One such piece of art, the silent film Aelita: Queen of Mars, was not only a revolutionary science fiction film in every sense of the word, but a highly influential piece of cinema.
Below you can watch the entire film and not only marvel at the silent film techniques, which were typical of the time, but the futuristic and constructivist texture of the film that would lay the foundation for the genre for years to come. From Fritz Lang to Stanley Kubrick, they can all thank Yakov Protazanov’s Aelita: Queen of Mars.
The film was almost lost to the censors like so many other great pieces of work but survived for its revolutionary plot. It sees Los, an engineer from Earth, not only construct his own spacecraft but to travel to Mars but he does so with the intention of varying their queen, Aelita.
The hints of Aelita‘s impression on Fritz Lang’s Metropolis can be seen with the introduction of Aelita’s father, who ends up being the despot demon of the red planet. He is ruthless in his rule over the masses and enacted a vicious vision on the peasantry.
It’s not too difficult to see why the film was beloved by the Soviet Union for some time. It became a classic reimagining of the Russian revolution set in space and accurately reflected the what happened on earth. Though some critics at the time referenced Los, a disenfranchised intellectual who topples a ruler, as not in keeping with the party’s values it managed to survive. Only decades later would the film be temporarily banned.
Looking back now though, we can see the value the film had. Not only for the connection or perhaps escapism it offered Russian audiences across the country but the vast amount of directors and artists who took inspiration from the film, without which we arguably wouldn’t have Metropolis, Road to the Stars or even 2001: Space Odyssey.
Its flair for costuming and futuristic detail, as well as a confounding story arc, allowed audiences to dream of a new world, an ever-expanding and ever-opening universe. If that’s not the point of science fiction then we don’t know what is.
Watch Russia’s first revolutionary science-fiction film Aelita: Queen of Mars below: