24 August 2003 | zetes
Interesting, but the story is too sloppy
Bizarre Russian sci-fi, socialist silent about a scientist who builds a rocketship, flies to Mars, and leads the Martian proletariat in a communist revolution. Or at least that's what I've always heard that that was what Aelita was about. In reality, this part of the plot only takes up about fifteen minutes of this 111 minute film. Most of it takes place on Earth, where a scientist, Los, suffers the infidelities and hedonism of his wife. He watches her with scorn as their philandering neighbor feeds her pieces of chocolate. This movie may hold the record for having the most unnecessary subplots. There's a man who is training to be a spy/private detective/undercover policeman (the professions seem kind of mixed up) and then there's a soldier who has had much experience `winning over' neighboring lands to the Soviet Union. Meanwhile, on Mars, curious Queen Aelita is wasting the planet's energy supply by using a newly invented telescope to watch Earthlings. She falls in love with the scientist. The movie is mainly valuable for the early science fiction settings. The filmmakers do a very good job with the art design on Mars. Of course everything looks very silly and impractical, but it's always amusing. Some of the sets and costumes are more imaginative than anything in Metropolis. Of course, Prozanov isn't anywhere near the talent Lang was, and most of the time the images are haphazardly composed. The Earth sequences, which take up the vast majority of the film, are not too bad, to tell you the truth. In fact, the story is pretty good. It certainly needed to be cleaned up a lot, especially so we might understand why the side characters exist in the first place (it makes more sense when they get to Mars, ¾ of the way through the picture). The acting is quite excellent. I thought the Martians were particularly well cast. I was actually quite enjoying Aelita: Queen of Mars, but the cop-out ending is rather bothersome. It's worth seeing, but it might be helpful to know beforehand that it's going to fall apart completely by the end. 7/10.