This is called the first Soviet science fiction film because of its “futuristic” sets on Mars, although most of it takes place in Moscow. The movie is set at the beginning of the NEP (New Economic Policy) in December, 1921. A mysterious radio message is beamed around the world, and among the engineers who receive it are Los, the hero, and his colleague Spiridonov. Los is an individualist dreamer. Aelita is the daughter of Tuskub, the ruler of a totalitarian state on Mars in which the working classe are put into cold storage when they are not needed. With a telescope, Aelita is able to watch Los. As if by telepathy, Los obsesses about being watched by her. After some hugger-mugger involving the murder of his wife and a pursuing detective, Los takes the identity of Spiridonov and builds a spaceship. With the revolutionary Gusev, he travels to Mars, but the Earthlings and Aelita are thrown into prison by the dictator. Gusev and Los begin a proletarian uprising, and Aelita offers to lead the revolution, but she then establishes her own totalitarian regime. Los is shocked by this development and attempts to stop Aelita, and then reality and fantasy become confused, and Los discovers what has really happened. –IMDb
Jakov Protozanov was one of the leading directors of silent film, in addition to being a writer and an actor. Starting in 1900, Protozanov worked as a salesman in Moscow, and subsequently spent time as an accountant, a translator and a clerk in both France and Italy. In 1906 he found work as a director’s assistant in Moscow. After learning a great deal about filmmaking, Protozanov made his directorial debut in 1909 with the film The Fountain of Bakhchisarai. Protozanov went on to make a series of films while living in France and Italy between 1918 and 1923. Eventually, Protozanov returned to the USSR, where he would make the popular science fiction film Aelita. In 1935 he was the Honored Statesman of the Arts in the Russian SFSR; in 1944 he received the same honor from the Uzbekistan SSR. Jakov Protozanov died in Moscow in 1945. —Seagull Films
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