Aelita: Queen of Mars

AELITA is an early silent Soviet movie that tells the story of how much Loss (from Earth) wants to visit Mars, and how badly Aelita (from Mars) wants to kiss like humans.

Originally scheduled to screen outdoors in front of the Cambridge University Library with live piano accompaniment from Neil Brand, weather conditions forced a move to Trinity College.  The walk between the venues in dust with rain certainly added an extra theatrical atmosphere to the event.  A surprise to most, the poor weather and sudden change of location did not prevent a full house for this extraordinary show.

“Touch my lips with your lips like they do on Earth”

Loss has always dreamed about traveling to Mars: he even daydreams about his adventures. When he finds out his wife Natasha is having an affair with their new tenant, Loss kills his wife and launches his rocket to Mars. There, Loss meets Aelita, the Queen of Mars, who has been watching Loss’s everyday life from the space. She also has a secret desire to kiss with her lips, like people do on Earth.  Loss and Aelita finally kiss, and even start a revolution on the planet. But is that all? The narrative is more complex than it seems, and the twist will not be revealed here.

AELITA is considered to be a masterpiece in Soviet cinema, not only because its complex narrative that involves mysteries, murder alongside elements of science fiction; it also documents the glorious and the least explored avant-garde movement in Soviet Union. Some of the costumes and prop design can still be considered as unique even to audience nowadays, and it certainly promises you an artistic visual pleasure.  The original score for the movie has been long lost. Pianist Neil Brand’s tremendous live performance made the vintage film ever so alive again.

“Touch my lips with your lips like they do on Earth”, says Aelita in that nostalgic black and white picture; at the same time, trills Neil Brand’s fingers on the piano right in front of the silver screen: “what else can be more wonderful?”