Written by: Michael Den Boer on March 7th, 2016
Theatrical Release Date: Germany, 1929
Director: Fritz Lang
Writers: Fritz Lang, Thea von Harbou, Hermann Oberth
Cast: Klaus Pohl, Willy Fritsch, Gustav von Wangenheim, Gerda Maurus, Gustl Gstettenbaur, Fritz Rasp
BluRay released: February 23rd, 2016
Approximate running time: 169 Minutes
Aspect Ratio: 1.28:1 Aspect Ratio / 1080 Progressive / MPEG-4 AVC
Sound: Dolby Digital Stereo (German Intertitles)
BluRay Release: Kino Lorber
Region Coding: Region A
Retail Price: $29.95
Synopsis: When a scientist discovers that there is gold on the moon. He builds a rocket ship and fly’s there. Will he find the riches he is looking for or will the greed of those who have come along with him on the flight get in his way?
Woman in the Moon was co-written and directed by Fritz Lang, a filmmaker who is most remembered as one of key contributors to German Expressionism. Notable German films directed by Lang include, Dr. Mabuse: The Gambler, Metropolis, Spies and M. Notable Hollywood films directed by Lang include, Scarlet Street,Clash by Night and The Big Heat.
The cinematographers on Woman in the Moon was Curt Courant (The Man Who Knew Too Much – 1934 version), Otto Kanturek (Night Train to Munich), Konstantin Irmen-Tschet, (The Adventures of Baron Munchausen – 1943 version) and Oskar Fischinger, a filmmaker in his own right who is most known for his work as an animator. The screenplay was co-written and adapted from a novel written by Thea von Harbou (Fritz Lang’s wife when this film was being made). Their collaboration would span twelve years culminating with the film The Last Will of Dr. Mabuse.
For his last silent film Fritz Lang would return the realm of Science Fiction, the genre where he had up to this point in his career his most acclaimed film Metropolis. And though Woman in the Moon saw Lang return to the realm of science fiction. This is where the similarities between these two films end. Where Metropolis depicted a futuristic society, Woman in the Moon is set in the present and it is its subject that makes it’s a science fiction film. At the core of the film is story that explores traveling to the moon via a rocket and both of these things were far from tangible when this film was made.
When it comes to the narrative, once again Lang weaves an engrossing tale that far exceeds the sum of its parts. The plot is a clever mix of science fiction, melodrama and a little bit of espionage is thrown in for good measure. Also the main characters are well defined and their motivations are never in doubt? The opening act does a good job setting up everyone’s back-story, while the middle act focuses on the preparation leading up to the launching of the rocket and the final act takes place on the moon.
Visually there are many standout moments in this film. With none that stand out more than the moments leading up to the launching of the rocket. Though technology and special effects in particular have come a long way since this film was made. It is remarkable how well the rocket launching sequence holds up after all these years. And of course other stand out moments include the section of the film that takes place on the moon.
Performance wise the entire cast are very good in their roles. With this film’s standout performance coming from Willy Fritsch (Spies) in the role of Wolf Helius, the character who is in charge of the trip to the moon. Other performances of note include, Fritz Rasp (Diary of a Lost Girl) in the role of Der Mann, this film’s villain and Gerda Maurus (Spies) in the role of Friede Velten, her character it the Woman referred to in the film’s title.
Woman in the Moon comes on a 50 GB dual layer (42.7 GB) BluRay. This release has been flagged for progressive playback and the film is presented in a 1.28:1 aspect ratio. Woman in the Moon was restored in 2004 Friedrich-Wilhelm-Murnau-Stiftung in Wiesbaden and 35mm master negative that was created from that restoration is the source for this releases 2k transfer. There are no issues with compression and DNR is kept in check. Outside of a few moments where the image looks soft the majority of the time the image looks crisp, contrast and black levels remain strong throughout. Also there is print damage that varies in degree throughout. It should be noted that it is most pronounced during the opening moments of the film. Needless to say, the overall presentation for a film that is eighty seven years old far exceeds expectations.
Extras for this release are limited to a documentary about the film titled ‘Woman in the Moon: The First Scientific Science Fiction Film’ (15 minutes 3 seconds, in German with English subtitles).
Topics discussed in this extra include, the influence from German physicist and engineer Hermann Oberth, his involvement in the making of the film and how this film went to great lengths to be authentic in regards to its subject matter.
Overall Woman in the Moon gets a strong release from Kino Lorber.
Note: This film is also being released by Kino Lorber on DVD.