Woman in the Moon
December 19, 2004 2:36 PM   Subscribe

Fritz Lang's last silent film, Woman in the Moon, has just been released by Kino Video in a lovingly restored and remastered edition, expanded to its original running time of 169 minutes. (Prior releases of the film in the US had as much as half of the original footage removed, with altered title cards that completely changed the storyline.) Woman in the Moon is considered to be the first real attempt to depict a flight to the moon in film that wasn't completely fantastic, thanks to the technical input of Hermann Oberth, who later went on play a key role in the development of the German V-2 rocket. As a piece of futurism, Woman in the Moon gets a few things wrong (the Moon of the film has a breathable atmosphere, for one thing), but it's also surprisingly prescient as well (the rocketship that voyages to the moon has multiple stages). Its most significant contribution to popular culture is the reverse countdown to blastoff, which was invented by the filmmakers as a dramatic device.
posted by Prospero (10 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
I like the clothes-iron looking lunar lander.
I heard all the hot women are on Orion, though.
posted by dancingbaptist at 2:41 PM on December 19, 2004

This is cool; I'll have to see if I can rent a copy. Thanks.
posted by interrobang at 2:46 PM on December 19, 2004

A pretty detailed (read: spoilerific) rundown of the movie on Jabootu lately: scroll about 3/4 of the way down.
posted by Bugbread at 2:51 PM on December 19, 2004 [1 favorite]

The Kino edition of Metropolis is amazing, it's really a totally different movie than short, grainy, flickery version I'd seen on PBS. I'm hoping that they did as good a job with "Frau im Mond"
posted by octothorpe at 3:07 PM on December 19, 2004

For an in-depth conversation and career retrospective with Lang, check out Peter Bogdanovich's Who the Devil Made It. The countdown anecdote is very amusing-- "if I count upwards, nobody will know when the rocket is supposed to go off!"

Thanks, Prospero. I believe we share the same V2 fetish.
posted by muckster at 3:22 PM on December 19, 2004

octothorpe: I have the Kino Fritz Lang box set that includes Die Nibelungen, Metropolis, Spies, and Woman in the Moon. Though none of the other discs in the box are as tricked-out as the Metropolis edition (there are no commentary tracks, and precious few extras), the films have been given the same careful restoration and expansion (Die Nibelungen has 100 minutes of restored footage, and Spies has something like 50). The extended Spies still has some severe continuity flaws, but it's entertaining all the same. Spies and Woman in the Moon don't have the excellent Gottfried Huppertz musical scores of Die Nibelungen and Metropolis, but the new score for Spies is decent, and the score for Woman in the Moon (by Jon C. Mirsalis, who seems like an interesting guy) is quite beautiful.

muckster: I successfully resisted including a series of Pynchon links in the post, but not without difficulty.
posted by Prospero at 3:50 PM on December 19, 2004

Oh man, thanks for the link. I've seen Woman in the Moon several times, but the transfers to VHS have been universally horrible. I'll have to go get this.
posted by j.edwards at 5:33 PM on December 19, 2004

This film kicked my ass when I saw it about a year ago in a PRISTINE print as a part of the Paramount's Silent Movie Mondays. The rocket can be found as an excellent card model here.
posted by mwhybark at 7:00 PM on December 19, 2004

On the BBC World Service this weekend I heard a fellow claiming that the countdown used by NASA and other space agencies is a direct borrowing from Lang. As he put it, (my words, his sentiments), "Why would NASA have to have a launch countdown? They know exactly when it's going to happen. It's just added drama for observers."
posted by Mo Nickels at 12:44 PM on December 20, 2004

cliche police: it's weird how people always say 'lovingly' restored. what, they bought it flowers?
posted by alfredogarcia at 3:57 PM on December 20, 2004

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