Pros: good science fiction
Cons: slow, overly expressive acting
Professor Manfeldt’s theory that mountains on the moon are made of gold prompts a group of powerful businessmen to hijack the moon mission planned by Wolf Helius.
This is a long (two hours and fifty minutes!) and slow moving film. The first hour deals with the theft of Helius’ plans and the insinuation of a new member on the mission. The flight to the moon is interesting, showing the first countdown to launch and a few scenes in zero gravity (while they show the need to hold on and a few people floating around, they didn’t have small items - like items in the mouse cage, aside from the mouse - float), as well as a two stage rocket. The scenes on the moon were entertaining, if in no way scientifically accurate.
The sets were pretty good. And while the rocket ship doesn’t look much like what actually took people to space (inside or outside), it’s a decent attempt at guessing the future.
As a silent film the actors made up for the lack of explanation through dialogue by using overly expressive hand and facial gestures. At times this worked, while at others the actions seemed to contradict the text cards.
The music on the Kino Classics edition was excellent and really heightened tension in some areas of the film.
I wasn’t really sold on the romance. Wolf Helius obviously likes Friede Velten and his jealousy over her choosing Hans Windegger makes him avoid their engagement party. There are hints that Friede likes Wolf more than Hans, though Hans is - at first - more inclined to let her follow her dreams. When Hans later falls apart, I didn’t like him as much, though I’m not sure Wolf fares much better with his stern demeanor.
Given how little time is spent on the moon compared to the rest of the film, I’m surprised by the title. “Mission Moon” or some such (recognizing it would be in German) would have been more accurate.
It’s a great film if you’re interested in the history of science fiction or silent films. It’s more involved than I’d expected, and kept my attention despite its length.