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Interplanetary Revolution

Entry updated 26 June 2023. Tagged: Film.

Russian animated silent short film (1924; original title Mezhplanetnaya Revolyutsiya). State Tech Kino. Loosely based on Aelita (1922) by Alexei Tolstoy. Directed and written by Nikolay Khodataev, Zenon Komissarenko and Youry Merkulov. 8 minutes. Black and white.

We are informed what we are about to see is "an event very likely to happen in 1929" (see Near Future), a "tale of Comrade Cominternov, the Red Army warrior who flew to Mars and vanquished all the capitalists on the planet!!". The story then unfolds using primitive cut-out animation and too few inter-title cards, making the narrative difficult to follow, but which seems to be as follows:

Imploring hands are upraised and a sign appears: "Warriors of the revolution, save Martian workers enslaved by capitalism!" (see Politics). Next, capitalist caricatures literally drain the blood of the workers (see Vampires) then grow fat on wealth, with swastikas prominent (the symbol had become associated with fascism by this time). Marx's Das Kapital (1867) appears on screen. An industrialist reads a copy of Pravda: "Bourgeois capitalism is dead!!!" – terrified he hides under the bed as a worldwide revolution occurs. Others, including a representative of the church (see Religion), fly off in a giant shoe. A Russian Spaceship containing Comrade Cominternov and a pilot lifts off, either in pursuit or going directly to Mars; the shoe ends up swallowed by the Sun. Having appreciated the beauty of space during their Space Flight, the Russian astronauts now arrive on a high-tech Mars: here we see a futuristic City with much Technology and imposing architecture, its skies full of advanced flying machines (see Transportation). Comrade Cominternov gives a rousing speech and the proletariat rise up: there is an air battle between squadrons of Rocket ships whilst the workers attack the ruler of Mars and his guards – after fierce fighting the workers are victorious.

The propaganda is extremely broad, unsubtle and – to modern eyes – Clichéd, though presumably less so in 1924. The first animated Soviet sf film, Interplanetary Revolution is mainly appreciated as a historical curio, but it is inventive and some of the scenes on Mars are interesting in the their own right, particularly those showing the city – whilst the rocketship fight, though technically taking place within Mar's atmosphere, must be one of the first space battles on film. Merkulov has said that "the battling rocket squadrons and the flight into the starry cosmos" delighted him and the other two creators: "we fancied ourselves as the Columbuses [sic] of animation", as quoted in Giannalberto Bendazzi's Animation: A World History: Volume I: Foundations – The Golden Age (2016). The trio had been temporarily involved with the making of Aelita (1924), but its Director, Yakov A Protazanov, decided not to have an animated element; so they made their own version, including at least one dig at the live action film: Cominternov sees a man and a woman on the Moon kissing (the hero in Aelita teaches a Martian how to kiss), babies now appear and are swallowed by the Moon. [SP]


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