In the context of Germany’s Kulturfilm phenomenon, Wunder der Schöpfung was among the greatest achievements of the 1920s. The production was constructed, rehearsed, and shot over a period of two and a half years, under the supervision of Hanns Walter Kornblum.
The idea to describe the universe and man’s place in it well suited UFA’s Grossfilm mentality, one year before the Metropolis catastrophe. Hundreds of skilled craftsmen participated in the project, building props and constructing scale models drawn by 15 special effects draughtsmen, while 9 cameramen in separate units worked on the historical, documentary, fiction, animation, and science-fiction sequences. Without star roles or even protagonists, the film’s plot is crowded with meticulously structured and skillfully acted single scenes an artful mosaic of small vignettes. No less than four credited university professors ensured the factual background behind the scientific and historical events portrayed.
The film’s symbol of progress and the new scientific era is a spacecraft, travelling through the Milky Way, making all the planets and their inspiring worlds familiar to us, with the extravaganza of their distinctive features. The film’s educational intentions, however, become steadily more obscure, humorous, or even campy as this popularization project proceeds.
With the excuse of presenting the end of the world a not-so-new concept as a new, undeniably scientific truth, the film veers happily along a new path, displaying detailed apocalyptic scenes of the end of mankind. For today’s audiences, this amazing film demonstrates how the universe was comprehended in the 1920s, and how that view was sold to contemporary audiences. —www.edition-filmmuseum.com