Frau im Mond is: (a) The first feature-length film to portray space-exploration in a serious manner, paying close attention to the science involved in launching a vessel from the surface of the earth to the valleys of the moon. (b) A tri-polar potboiler of a picture that manages to combine espionage tale, serial melodrama, and comic-book sci-fi into a storyline that is by turns delirious, hushed, and deranged. © A movie so rife with narrative contradiction and visual ingenuity that it could only be the work of one filmmaker: Fritz Lang.
In this, Lang’s final silent epic, the legendary filmmaker spins a tale involving a wicked cartel of spies who co-opt an experimental mission to the moon in the hope of plundering the satellite’s vast (and highly theoretical) stores of gold. When the crew, helmed by Willy Fritsch and Gerda Maurus (both of whom had previously starred in Lang’s Spione), finally reach their impossible destination, they find themselves stranded in a lunar labyrinth without walls — where emotions run scattershot, and the new goal becomes survival.
A modern Daedalus tale which uncannily foretold Germany’s wartime push into rocket-science, Frau im Mond is as much a warning-sign against human hubris as it is a hopeful depiction of mankind’s potential. —Eureka Entertainment
Born in Vienna in 1890, Fritz Lang was brought up in Viennese middle-class comfort by his Roman Catholic father Anton and his Jewish mother Paula Schleisinger who both hoped that young Fritz would become an architect. But like so many middle-class children of the new century, Lang was fascinated by the pulp and fantasy literature of his day, the art world both in and outside Vienna and a potent new form of entertainment that invited artistic scrutiny and craftsmanship, the motion picture. Though the teenaged Lang attended school as his parents wished, he secretly haunted the cafe’s and cabarets of Vienna and intended to become a painter like his idols Klimt and Schile. At aged 21 Lang’s yearning took him to Paris where he lived in Bohemian splendor until the outbreak of W.W.I. Returning to Vienna, Lang enlisted in the Austrian army where he repeatedly saw combat, was wounded at least three times and decorated twice.
It was while on leave recuperating from one of these wounds… read more
Lang, the great pessimist and the great romantic. Death and love always go hand to hand in his work and it's no wonder that in a scenario of utter void and loneliness (the moon) the left for dead protagonist (after chaos hits the group of astronauts - and groups always stand for fascism in Lang) finds after all that his object of desire - a woman - has stayed with him. Eros meets Tanatos, the woman meets the moon.
Woman in the Moon contains Lang's usual stylistic hallmarks, which are always gratifying. However, I could have done without the inordinate melodrama, which seemed to make the elements of space opera more awkward than epic. The garish sets were entertaining and quintessential to German Expressionism. It's worth a look for hardcore Lang fans such as myself, but don't expect anyone else to take much out of this film.
What follows a pretty engrossing and intriguing first half kind of devolves into a second half that leaves one in disbelief at the amout of logic thrown to the wind, and I'm not talking about the travel to and exploration of the moon - that sense of fantasy can be digested, granted the time from which the film came - but rather the emotional and psychological dynamics amid the characters, really leaves one at a loss.
This film is often cited as the first occurrence of the "countdown to zero" before a rocket launch (Wikipedia). IMHO this may be the very first film that uses the cliche of showing the woman leaving bus or plane that she was meant to board just in the next scene.
Stepping out of the sullen romantic echo chambers of Balzac and the Bourbon Restoration in Ne touchez pas le hache, Jacques Rivette moves