Weltraumschiff 1 startet… (1937)
Article 5506 by Dave Sindelar
Directed by Anton Kutter
Featuring Fritz Reiff, Rolf Wernicke, Carl Wery
What it is: A trip to the moon
A rocket is launched to circle the moon and return to Earth.
The copy I found of this odd little German science fiction movie was in German without English subtitles, and seeing as to how half of the movie is primarily talk, that is certainly an obstacle to following it. However, the general thrust of the action seems simple enough; the first half of the movie consists of a scientist explaining to the press the nature of the trip to the moon, whereas the the second half of the movie is the journey itself. However, since the movie is only 23 minutes long, it’s never really too elaborate to follow, and since the voyage itself almost entirely consists of special effects footage peppered with narration, and since nothing from a plot perspective happens other than the trip to the moon (there is virtually no human interaction in the second half of the movie), it’s devoid of long sections of film where you can’t tell what’s going on. The special effects themselves are the highlight of the film, and they’re pretty good and quite entertaining; in fact, I found myself wondering why they would put this much work into a short. The answer is simple; the short was edited down from footage from two incomplete feature films that were abandoned when Germany went to war, so this was no doubt intended to keep the films from going to waste. As it is, the movie serves as an interesting little stepping stone between some of the space travel films of the silent era and the coming science fiction boom of the fifties; in fact, I found myself thinking of ROCKETSHIP X-M, DESTINATION MOON, and WHEN WORLDS COLLIDE (especially when you see the launch ramp) while watching this. All in all, it’s an interesting and useful curiosity, and worth seeing even if you can’t understand the language.