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Aelita: Queen of Mars

Katara Cinema

/ Feature Narrative / Russian Federation / 1924 / 120 min / Black & White / DVD
In No Dialogue
Rated: Parental guidance is advised for viewers under the age of 13. Individuals under the age of 13 are not admitted into cinemas unless accompanied by an individual aged 18 or older.

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When a mysterious message is transmitted to stations around the world, the Soviet radio engineer Los – something of a dreamer – is struck with the notion that it might have been sent from Mars. Meanwhile, on the Red Planet, Aelita, the daughter of the totalitarian Martian ruler Tuskub, uses a powerful telescope to peer at life on Earth, and she soon sets her gaze on Los. In turn, Los mysteriously fantasises about Aelita watching him. His marriage begins to fall apart and when he discovers his wife has been unfaithful, his obsession with Aelita intensifies and he builds a spaceship with which to reach her.

Tuskub’s regime is harsh on its working classes – they are placed in cold storage when they are not needed. Upon his arrival on Mars, Los helps Aelita to conduct a proletarian revolution and make her the new Martian queen. However, as so often is the case with revolutions, idealism soon falls by the wayside.

Heavily criticised by Soviet authorities at the time of its release – it was seen as pro-Communist but anti-revolutionary and so was derided as being a remnant of the ideology of Tsarist Russia – ‘Aelita: Queen of Mars’ influenced later filmmakers with its complex take on politics, its stripped-down sense of science fiction and its stunning Constructivist set design.

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