Move over Aelita! This 1910 short film about a scientist and the princess of Mars getting married on the moon is Italy’s first science fiction film. It is derivative of George Méliès’ A Trip to the Moon, but a fun little adventure.
An Interplanetary Marriage (Un matrimonio interplanetario). Silent short. 1910, Italy. Written, directed by Enrico Novelli (aka Yambo). Starring: Enrico Novelli. Produced for Latium Films. IMDb score: 4.8
A scientist watches the distant planet Mars. The image shows a mountainous landscape. It is a painting. The image pans. Slowly. Very slowly. The landscape isn’t very interesting. It has mountains and trees and some big mushrooms. But the director Yambo apparently wants us to see it very slowly. So not to miss it. Slowly. And finally he cuts! Only to replace it with yet another painting of the landscape. Slowly. Until we finally see a Martian house. And within the Martian house there is a princess of Mars looking back! And they fall in love. The scientist (Yambo) runs off to the telegraph office to send a telegram to Mars (yes indeed), and receives one back – apparently the king has agreed to marry his daughter to the scientist (it’s hard to tell, since some idiot has edited out all the intertitles from the copy that’s available online).
Yambo climbes into his sphere, gets shot out of a cannon and lands on the moon. The princess and the king have also arrived in their spaceship, and the couple get married. Then Yambo and the princess take a stroll in a moon cave, where they are almost attacked by moon zombies and insectoids. Then a group of dancing girls appear. The end?
Yes, this is yet another ripoff of Georges Méliés’ 1902 film A Trip to the Moon (review). The film clocks in at just under 13 minutes, and has decidedly higher production values than the American counterpart A Trip to the Mars by the Edison Company (review), released the same year. It is perhaps most notable for being Italy’s first science fiction film, and was written and directed by Yambo – real name Enrico Novelli – who is best known as an author of children’s’ books and as one of the fathers of modern Italian science fiction. He also starred in the lead role – this was Novelli’s only film. Considering that, the film is in no way badly directed, and even features some quite elaborate animation, a novelty at the time. The miniature sets are well made and even functional, the matte paintings so-so. What makes it special, though, is that – despite the fact that the aliens are still clad in Renaissance clothing (something Méliès started and it apparently stuck) – it is the first film to depict inhabitants of another planet as being a civilisation on par with ours, if not even more developed.
It is an amusing little romp, a bit slow-going and not necessarily very visionary, but fun nonetheless, and pretty well made for its day.
An Interplanetary Marriage (Un matrimonio interplanetario). Silent short. 1910, Italy. Written, directed by Enrico Novelli (aka Yambo). Starring: Enrico Novelli. Produced for Latium Films.