What do you get if you cross a mad scientist with a strange looking Russian woman dressed in tin foil, some political propaganda and a stupid self-loving musician with no respect for the hearing, the deaf or even the dead?!
Well, aside from an ugly, overly amorous French man snoring the deckchair in front of me, you also get Aelita.
Now, for those of you who don’t know – that’s you, me and the rest of the World, I think – Aelita was the first film made by one of the pioneers of the Russian cinema, Yakov Protazanov, after his return from Europe, where he remained during difficult times of Russian Civil War of 1918–1922.
Aelita is a propagandistic story, told in what is basically a sci-fi film attempting to proliferate communist ideas, and it is based on a Sci-fi novel by Alexei Tolstoy. Are you asleep yet?
If you were watching the movie to a different soundtrack to what we had, you wouldn’t be but I can only describe the soundtrack we endured as akin to being locked in the boiler cupboard of a cruise ship with a flute and a saxophone for company and a man who only knew three notes on each!
Let me first set the scene – the scene I was in, not that our dear Aelita was in. French Cousin 2 and Mustard Boy are those enviable Parisians who soak up culture on a daily basis in the same way people over here soak up gin and tonics, although to be fair they are quite fond of a tipple or two.
And, just around the corner from their lovely flat is this incredible restaurant/bar/club/terrace and prairie!
Yes, they turned the top floor into a prairie, covered the floor with fake grass, installed a few water features and filled the place with deckchairs and hammocks – there’s even the essential bar serving cocktails. And this, after our eclectic meal downstairs complete with the rudest waitress ever, was where Aelita graced us with her presence.
So, onto the movie… Meet Los, a scientist, who is married to Natasha and working on a spaceship capable of going to Mars. For entertainment value, the Russian Civil War is raging and people are starving.
In the midst of this are a whole host of other characters portraying communist ideal against bourgeois wealth… I got a bit lost to be honest so stole a chocolate brownie of Mustard Boy.
While all this happens on Earth, we also get to see what’s happening on Mars, naturally! On the red planet, there’s regime similar to that of Egyptian pharaohs, where the working class, represented by the slaves, suffers under tyrannical regime of the ruling class. Heck, they took it so far that even the King looks like Cleopatra! And the slaves were stored in a refrigerated unit – although I don’t really know why. French Cousin 2 explained however, that this was to illustrate how disposable the rulers saw society to be.
It's from this delightful planet that Martian princess Aelita observes the life of Los and, as a result, wants to kiss him. I have no idea why she wants this… Los is by no means wonderful – he’s as attractive as an anorexic Herman Munster, has the charisma of lettuce bathed in olive oil and harbours murderous intentions towards his wife.
To be fair, he thinks his wife is having an affair with a rich man so he shoots her and then sets of in his spaceship to Mars with a man dressed up as a woman and a white rat.
Upon arrival, there’s a slave uprising and revolution, which results in the establishing of the Soviet Republic of Mars! The end?
Well it was for me, as it was at this point that the music got so loud and unbearable that I fell into a coma. But apparently, according to French Cousin 2, Los returns and finds his wife is not dead and she forgives him. They were, it seems, as fond as Hollywood endings as um… Hollywood are – except I have just remembered that French Cousin 2 told me that Los tries to kill his wife again… romantic fellow isn’t he!
Just incase my careful synopsis doesn’t have you dashing out to HMV to buy your own copy of the movie… does anyone fancy watching Aelita with me so I can see how it ended?