Soviet Socialist Republic of Mars



As I suggested in my last post, Constructivism became the language of the future. Aelita, Queen of Mars was a 1924 silent film directed by Yakov Protazanov. It is often called the first Soviet science fiction film because of its futuristic sets on Mars (although most of it takes place in Moscow). Avant-garde artist Alexandra Exter‘s did the costume designs for the film immediately before she and her husband emigrated to Paris. Prior to that she exhibited with Constructivist artists and taught in Moscow.

The sharp angles and abstracted curves of Constructivism had become associated with science, technology, and human progress. Mars itself, portrayed on the left, looks like the architectonic forms that often appeared on avant-garde canvases at the time. In this elaborate setting of technological advancement, we watch the story of Aelita, Queen of Mars and other fantastically costumed denizens unfold.

Aelita_Interioir Interioir_Aelita Queen of Mars

Interiors on Mars, above, costumes (note the maid’s pants!) below.

aelita_maid Costume_maid_aelita

The technical advancement of the Martians does not equal social advancement as we learn when the protagonist is finally propelled to Mars in a spaceship–all for the love of Queen Aelita. Mars then becomes not merely a site of escapist fantasy for the viewer, although it was certainly that, but a Utopian space of social change. Or perhaps a chance for the director to toe the part line. Either way, the visitors from earth discover oppressed workers on Mars and try to incite a revolution in order to create a Union of the Soviet Socialist Republics on Mars! I won’t spoil any more of it in case you want to watch it–its available for streaming with English subtitles and accompanying music here.



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  1. Pingback: Soviet Photography at The Jewish Museum | Linnea West

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