Moscow: Proizvodstvennyy organ Mezhrabpoma Khudozhestvennyy Kollektiv «Rus’», . Item #1082
48 pp.: ill. 22.2x19.8 cm. In original illustrated publisher’s wrappers. Spine and edges are slightly rubbed. Otherwise near fine.
Scarce. First edition.
This brochure is dedicated to the Soviet silent film classic ‘Aelita’, which came out in 1924 and became a sensation in both Soviet and foreign movie industries. The edition features a list of cast members, a short summary of the film, and an article on the making of ‘Aelita’. The brochure includes multiple black and white illustrations depicting scenes from the movie, constructivist-style costumes, and pictures of the personnel.
‘Aelita’ was directed by Yakov Protazanov (1881-1945), a Soviet film director and one of the founding fathers of cinema in Russia. In 1923 Protazanov, who had been working in Europe for several years, was enticed home and offered a position at Mezhrabpom-Rus, the most commercially oriented film company in Soviet Russia. ‘Aelita’ became the first movie produced by Protazanov after his return from emigration.
Based on Alexander Tolstoy’s famous novel, the film tells the story of an engineer Los, who creates a spacecraft capable of flying to Mars. Los sets out for the Red Planet in the company of Gusev, a Red Army soldier, and a sleuth called Kravtsov. On Mars, the trio encounters an alien civilization. While Gusev plots a revolution, a love affair blossoms between Los and Aelita, the daughter of the Martian leader.
The film was released on September 25, 1924, in Moscow at the Ars cinema with musical accompaniment by Vladimir Kruchinin. The Martian sets were designed by Viktor Simov in the spirit of constructivism, and the costumes were designed by the costume designers Isaak Rabinovich and Alexandra Exter with the participation of Nadezhda Lamanova. ‘Aelita’ starred some of the most famous Soviet actors of the time: Igor Ilyinsky as Kravtsov, Yuliya Solntseva as Aelita, Nikolai Tsereteli as Los, etc.
Aelita’s release was preceded by an unprecedented newspaper advertising campaign that began about six months before the premiere. A month after the Moscow premiere, on October 28, the film was released in Leningrad, and in November it was shown in Izhevsk and Kazan. In spite of Aelita’s huge popularity among the audience, Soviet critics were less than impressed with the constructivist production. On December 3, 1924, the Commission of the Central Committee of the All-Union Communist Party turned down the petition to export the film abroad. Years later, ‘Aelita’ was recognized as one of the most revolutionary works in Soviet film industry.
Worldcat shows copies of the edition at Cornell University Library and USC Library.