Aelita, or the decline of Mars

With an image gallery and synopsis

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Image: Still from Aelita (1924)
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Image gallery

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ENGINEER M.S. LOS INVITES ALL WHO WISH TO FLY WITH HIM TO THE PLANET OF MARS ON AUGUST 18 TO CALL ON HIM BETWEEN 6 AND 8 PM AT 11 ZHDANOVSKAYA EMBANKMENT.

This notice is hanging on the wall of a deserted building in Petrograd. A tall, broad-shouldered demobilized soldier named Aleksei Ivanovich Gusev reads the notice and reacts approvingly. An American reporter named Archibald Skiles also sees it and is stunned. He assumes that the author must be either a fraud or a raving lunatic.

Building the constructivist set for Aelita (1924)

Building the constructivist set for Aelita (1924)

The workshop

Skiles goes to the modest shed/workshop where engineer Mstislav Sergeevich Los is constructing his spacecraft, a metallic egg about 8 and a half meters high and 6 meters in diameter. Los estimates that his trip to Mars will take only eight or nine hours, since he’ll be traveling at close to the speed of light. The spacecraft is powered by ultralyddite, a fine powder which is more powerful than any other known explosive (and which was discovered by Petrograd factory workers!)

Skiles asks who is financing the project, and Los says the Soviet Republic is. Skiles offers to pay Los in advance for his travel notes — six articles of 200 lines each at ten dollars per line. Los accepts payment.

Still from Aelita (1924)

Still from Aelita (1924)

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