A fascinating relic, this silent 1924 Soviet feature melds primitive sci-fi with Leninist propaganda: a renegade engineer, obsessed with mysterious radio signals from outer space, embarks on a rocket trip to Mars and discovers a capitalist society that freezes workers and puts them in cold storage for later use. (It’s not such a red planet after all.) Constructivist painter Alexandra Ekster designed the strikingly angular sets and costumes, which would influence Hollywood’s Flash Gordon serials of the 30s. For a film about the future, this is oddly preoccupied with the past, as the characters try to sever their emotional ties to prerevolutionary Russia. Yakov Protazanov directed.
Aelita: Queen of Mars
1 hour 52 min