Himmelskibet (1918)

HIMMELSKIBET (1918)
aka A TRIP TO MARS, THE AIRSHIP
Article 2107 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 12-22-2006
Posting Date: 5-20-2007
Directed by Holger-Madsen
Featuring Nils Asther, Lilly Jacobson, Nicolai Neiiendam

A pilot dreams of flying to Mars, and with the help of a professor, manages to build an airship capable of taking them to that planet. He gathers together a crew, and reaches Mars, which is populated by a utopian society.

When I started this project, the first movie to go onto my hunt list was ABBOTT AND COSTELLO MEET FRANKENSTEIN, which I was able to watch immediately; it became the first entry in the series. The second movie to enter my list was this one (under the alternate title THE AIRSHIP), and here it is, six years later, and I’ve finally had a chance to watch it. Simply for this reason alone, I’m bound to feel a bit of warmth for the movie, simply due to the fact that the hunt is over.

So, how is the movie? I would say that it’s good, but not great. It’s certainly ambitious enough; there’s a huge cast of extras in both the Earth and Mars scenes. The story itself is a little too familiar; it’s your basic “adventure-into-Utopia” story. But there’s a basic problem with Utopia stories; once you get to the Utopia, you end up almost entirely with scenes of people being really nice to each other, and that really doesn’t make for an exciting story. It’s no surprise under these circumstances that the most interesting character is the villain (who stays on Earth), the aptly named Professor Dubious, whose mocking of the whole project starts out as funny, but takes some nasty turns towards the end.

Still, it’s nice to have at least one more science fiction outing from the decade of the 1910s; the only other full length non-horror science fiction movie that I’ve seen from the era is 20,000 LEAGUES UNDER THE SEA, and I think this one is more interesting. It’s probably the most important science fiction movie between A TRIP TO THE MOON and AELITA; it’s certainly the best extant one. So I take my hat off to this one for its historical importance alone. I’m so glad to have finally had a chance to see it.

 

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