… or maybe not, perhaps it is just ignorance on my part. But until very recently, I had never even heard of Fritz Lang’s 169 minute follow up to “Metropolis”; “Woman In The Moon”. Released in 1929 the movie tells the story of the first successful trip to Earth’s satellite. It is a melodrama backed by large doses of credible science.
It’s told in three acts. The first act involves skullduggery and established our central characters. The hero is Helius, the wealthy owner of an aircraft factory, who is assisted by Hans and Friede. The latter two have become engaged, an act that has broken the heart of Helius, who has been secretly in love with Friede. You have old professor Mannfelt, whose theories about the moon caused him to be laughed out of academia. There is the young boy Gustav who is enamored with science fiction and who runs errands for Helius. Finally there is Turner, the evil servant of a conglomeration of international business interests. Aware that Helius is preparing a space flight to the moon and also Mannfelt’s evidence that gold will be found there, Turner has stolen essential material from Helius and is blackmailing him. His goal is to be part of the ships crew and see to the conclave’s interests.
The second act shows the take off and the flight to the moon. For the first time on screen the public is introduced to the count down and multi stage rockets. The significant G-forces involved in escaping the Earth’s atmosphere are also addressed, along with weightlessness. The latter concern is dealt with in a novel way via a series of looped belts on the floor. The astronauts must slip their feet in and out of these to walk. The crew is Helius, Hans, Freide, Mannfelt and Turner. That is until they learn that Gustav has stowed away. The trip to the moon takes 36 hours.
The final act is what happens upon the moon. I’d rather not reveal specifics but people do die and characters expose their true nature. I’m not ashamed to admit that the film was able to bring me to tears.
So I’m giving a hearty recommendation that you catch “Woman In The Moon”.