Mezhplanetnaya revolyutsiya [Interplanetary Revolution] (1924)

I am posting this one as more of a curiosity than something I would recommend.

I’ve posted several Soviet era and post-Soviet animated films on the blog side of my efforts lately, with more to follow whenever I get around to it.  In fact, the Soviet Bloc produced vast quantities of animation, most of it in the form of short films, from the sort of children’s animation we would expect, to a vast outpouring of works which were boldly experimental, surreal, or aimed at adults (complete with nudity).

And a lot of these films were Science Fiction, whether detailed and realistic hard sci-fi, or colorful flights of fancy, or surreal, allegorical or parodistic.

But they had to start somewhere.

Mezhplanetnaya revolyutsiya (Interplanetary Revolution — or, in the Cyrillic alphabet, Межпланетная революция) was the first Soviet animated science fiction film — and only their second animated film — and it is a very strange work.

Frankly, it is bizarre.  The animation is mostly very limited, usually cut out animation, and it is roughly the equivalent of bringing the avant garde Soviet propaganda poster of the Twenties to life.

The plot is not particularly easy to follow, although it was apparently meant as a sort of parody or pastiche of Aelita: Queen of Mars and hits a lot of the same plot points.  It doesn’t help, though, that the main character is mainly shown in still images of a tough looking soldier, whose name is apparently “Comrade Kominternov”: literally, the son of the Comintern or Communist International.

Not that you would ever call him — or anyone else in this film — a “Character.”

Evil Capitalists — represented as dog faced or as monsters, with Swastikas on their forehead and other symbolic images like those in a classic Editorial cartoon, or with caricatures of famous people — have been oppressing the workers of Mars, and the Earthlings who arrive in their Rocket spark the revolution, and at the end we know they’ve succeeded as, over the head of our scowling soldier, we now have a scowling portrait of Lenin…
The first half is all images of how bad Capitalists are, but things really pick up about halfway through when the Earthmen build their rocket and go to Mars.  There’s even a huge spaceship battle, which is probably the high point of the film.  I suppose the ghostly figure of the soldier in the first half is supposed to be the spirit of the Revolution or something like that.  It isn’t ever explained, nor do we have the equivalent of Aelita calling for help.

Let’s face it: it’s terrible.  Propaganda makes poor art, and the best Soviet era animation was always that least influenced by dogmatic concerns.  As my fellow critic Dave Sindelar put it, the Soviet people would probably far rather have watched Felix the Cat.

But it is an interesting curio, and one of the earliest animated Science Fiction films ever made.  It isn’t a huge crowd pleaser, but the spaceship battle is fun and at least it is only seven minutes long.

Unfortunately, that is one of its few virtues…

(Subtitles Available Here)



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