Thursday, 9 June 2011

Nils Asther, Martian citizen, 1918

In 1918, Nils Asther acted in Himmelskibet (Ship to the Stars), an early silent science fiction film from Denmark. 
Himmelskibet, 1918, Russian poster

There are great reviews of Himmelskibet here and here, well written and with lots of pictures. So there's no need for another one of those. 

Instead, this is a fun game of 'Where's Nils Asther?'

Asther was only 21 as the time of filming and  this was only the second moving picture he had been in. He didn't have a big part in Himmelskibet and he can be a bit hard to spot. Here are some photos of him, older than in this film, but before he grew his bad-boy Hollywood moustache.

The basic plot of Himmelskibet: Earthlings fly to Mars and encounter some advanced natives. 

Asther is billed as a 'Martian citizen' and he first pops up when the spacemen meet the Martian elders on a large grassy field which looks as suspiciously as similar to Earth as those eternal 'alien' Welsh quarries did in Doctor Who.

Look, there's young Asther. Standing behind the spacemen 
as they come in peace. 

Then Asther offers the spacemen some melons. 
(The Martians in this film are strict fruitarians. 
That's what you get for living on Mars.)

'Whaddya mean, you only eat melons?' ask the spacemen. 
Only in Danish, and using silent screen caption cards.

One spaceman shows the Martians proper Earth food - 
wine and meat. They are bemused.

'How do you get meat?' the Martians ask. 
The spaceman kills some local wildlife to show them. 
Shock horror from the peaceful Martian melon-botherers.

The Martians, appalled, bums rush the Earthlings from across the fields. 
The spacemen throw a grenade. A Martian citizen gets hurt and he falls, 
melodramatically - Nils Asther. There he goes, whee.

Bad spacemen. You have killed a poor Martian citizen.

Only wait, he's still alive. The Martians take him to Martian hospital.

And hoorah, the wonders of science, and hoorah for inter-planetary harmony.

I viewed a snippet of the film here. It was accompanied by a spiffy new electronic soundtrack from 2007 which I think rather suited it.

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